covid vaccine

Covid vaccination at 11:54 this morning, so up just after 7 to be showered and sensible in plenty of time!

A rather chilly walk up to the GP surgery – I’d decided not to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt or a heavy jumper, so that I wouldn’t have to faff about for them to get to my upper arm. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the actual injection, and as a result didn’t go light-headed or otherwise feel wobbly! It was, fittingly, the “Oxford” vaccine.

However, by mid-afternoon I was starting to feel shivery, and run a slight temperature. A hot bath and early bed will be called for! Hopefully, it won’t get worse – the side-effects of this vaccine can apparently be pretty nasty.

scan of information leaflet cover

Life on plague island

I’ve had a really rough couple of days, though am now just starting to emerge from it. Seasonal depression is part of it, of course – I’ve been struggling for a few weeks, but that’s perfectly normal for me. I’ve been on the cusp of depression, but not actually over the edge.

However, the massive change in lockdown/tier arrangements only a few days before Christmas has deeply unsettled me. The lateness of it all, coupled with the certainty that it will rapidly prove to be not rigorous enough, is certainly part of it. The having to re-think Christmas travel arrangements and discussions with my Mum (and pressure to stay on extra days once I’m there) also doesn’t help. The sheer mechanics of getting stuff to people I’d expected to see over Christmas and now won’t: dealing with post and carriers at this very busy time shouldn’t have proved arduous but was right at the limits of my ability to perform.

So it was a severe bout of depression. Not going to bed until the small hours, waking before the alarm went off, loss of appetite (I under-shot my target 1500 calories a day by nearly 300 calories yesterday), intermittent bouts of tears for no reason, and massive apathy. All the usual signs.

I think / hope I’ve started to turn the corner, but am fretting about how I’ll cope, away from home, with the normal stresses (and of course pleasures) of a family Christmas, even curtailed and severely reduced in numbers as it is. I feel that I’m only marginally on the “not quite depressed” side of the border, and certainly don’t feel stable there.

Having coped well with the covid crisis for most of the year, I suspect part of it is things finally catching up with me. The start of next year maybe even worse as Brexit looms, and I’m actively trying not to think about it, though I will make sure that the food cupboard is well-stocked. At over £200, my next Ocado order is about a third higher than usual – though a fair bit of the extra cost is “treats” rather than essentials, reflecting my current low state.

Oh well, packing and house-cleaning are on the list for today – sister Jane is picking me up around 10am tomorrow.

Difficult week

It’s not been a good few days! A week ago I posted this to Facebook:

AAAARGH!
Covid-doctor has said that I *must* self-isolate for ten days, as I’m displaying symptoms. A postal test has been booked.
I’m perfectly OK for food and suchlike (I usually carry enough stocks to last me a month), but feel a bit grim due to high temperature etc., and food (one of my real pleasures in life) doesn’t taste right.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me that it’s just a mild case, or even just a ‘flu that the ‘flu jab hasn’t dealt with.
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I spent most of the week shivering (despite the heating being at 23.5C), with increasing pains in my chest. The fitbit-clone showed blood oxygen saturation dropping as low as 88%, though never for long periods, and my lips were looking rather purple. On Friday night, I was sufficently worried to think about calling the covid line again for advice.
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The test was delivered on Wednesday, and collected on Thursday. I got both a text an an email on Sunday, at about 3pm, to say I’d tested negative. As I put on Facebook:
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My COVID-19 test has come back negative. A relief, I suppose, but the lurgy I’ve got (“ordinary” ‘flu, presumably) is still distinctly unpleasant!
I’d have a bit more confidence in the testing/trace system if it wasn’t so screwed up – one email from them giving results had my date of birth 1995 (not ’55), while the other got that right but misspelled my name!
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I’m still feeling very breathless if I do anything – even just stand up and go to the front door to check the post! But I felt yesterday that I was turning the corner, even though I expect it will take two or three weeks to get fully back to normal.

Monthly update

Monthly update, after four months.

Well, I’m not losing weight as rapidly as in previous months – in fact, pretty much plateau’d for much of the time. I gather that’s to be expected. But overall I ended the month lower than the start of the month, so no cause for despair.

I’m kinda thinking it’s time for another blood test, to see if I’ve managed to move out of the “pre-diabetic” category, but (understandably) they aren’t really doing such things at the moment.

graph of weight loss

hospital again

Tuesday (2nd June) was not a good day. Actually, it started on Monday, during my walk: I started getting angina twinges as I was walking (on the level !) back through Perdiswell Park. It persisted, with varying strength, until after lunch on Tuesday. Not exactly painful, more of a squeezing sensation.

So, I thought I’d better check it out. I called NHS111, who sent an ambulance. A couple of ECG scans and some blood pressure monitoring later, they decided on hospital. That was what I’d been worried about – not that I dislike hospitals, but at the moment fear of catching CoViD-19 is still very high, as I have a couple of areas of “vulnerability”.

So, off to WRH. A&E was not crowded – I think I’m not the only one still worried about coronavirus! I was parked in the converted corridor, and bloods taken. Unfortunately, I was parked nearly opposite the doors to the Resuscitation Room, which was clearly getting prepared for something serious – as the doors opened, I could see staff gowning up in full protective gear. Then an emergency team rushed in, in full breathing apparatus, surrounding a patient in a tent-type-thing. Pretty scary. Then the team in Resus. obviously wanted things – ordinary staff were allowed as far as the doorway, but had to hand things through and were not allowed in. All was explained when notices were stuck on the door: “Covid RED ROOM” “Full PPE must be worn” No admittence except to authorised staff” and so on.

I saw the Duty Consultant in pretty short order – only a couple of hours. He was great, and immediately confirmed that I has not had a heart attack. However, he was worried by my dizzy spells (I’d just about fainted when I sat up from lying down, so he could listed to my back), and suggested he discuss me with a colleague and that I stay in overnight, to which I agreed. A transfer to an actual bed in the Medical Assessment Unit followed.

Fortunately, although there was no phone signal, the NHS WiFi proved excellent, so I was able to email Sim and ask him to call Mum – I didn’t want to alarm her by just sending a bare email! Too late for a proper meal, but a couple of NHS sandwiches at 300+ calories each stopped me starving. After further discussion, it was decided to take more blood, to do a d-dimer test (which checks for evidence of clotting such as deep vein thrombosis,). First attempt to take blood went really painfully wrong, but a second attempt an hour later went OK. There was an outside chance my symptoms could be attributed to something called “aortic dissection”, which is an emergency requiring rapid surgery. Fortunately, this proved not to be the case!

A rather disturbed night (the ward was noisy), and I gave up and got up just after six. I did try to keep my strolls out of the ward down to once every two hours – necessary not just for a quick e-cig, but also (actually mainly) because my back was really painful. The chair and bed were not good for me: I painfully hobbled out of the ward, with my ability to walk gradually improving on the journey through A&E and the reception area, and by the time I’d walked around for ten minutes I was walking normally on my return to the ward.

A very stodgy lunch (veg soup, chicken casserole with croquette and mashed potato, very overcooked mixed veg and leeks, followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard) played hob with my calorie count and attempts to avoid high-GI carbohydrates, but was tasty enough. I had a little snooze straight after it! It was decided that my dizzy spells might be related to taking non-modified-release isosorbide mononitrate, as that meant peaks and troughs of it in my system, so I agreed to try modified-release once a day. Previously it hasn’t worked for me, but they’ve upped the dose a bit, so we’ll see how it goes. My blood pressure does seem to vary – usually around 127/85, but sometimes about 115/65 which is really too low. Doesn’t seem to be related to posture, exercise, or anything else much!

Released just before 4pm, and home by cab (still wearing my hospital-supplied mask), so I was away for almost exactly 24 hours. Between stress and lack of sleep I was very wrung out, which continued into Thursday (when I did absolutely nothing and didn’t leave the house).

I’ve typed this up on Friday afternoon. Halfway through, I went out to the pharmacy (prescription from Elbury Moor has not arrived, although ordered last weekend), and Co-Op for milk. MapMyWalk tells me it was 0.72 miles, 2012 steps, in 23 minutes – rather slow, even allowing for time spent in shops. Still, I was deliberately not walking fast … I’m not over the “episode”, still feeling a bit breathless, occasional angina twinges, and generally a bit under par. Hopefully that will improve over the next couple of day and by the time the weather gets warm again I’ll be able to go for more sensible walks!

bloody inconvenient!

I’ve been back in a spica splint for the past few days (due to osteoarthritis in my thumb). Handwashing multiple times a day is a nightmare, and I’ve yet to find a disposable glove that will fit over the splint. So far, I’ve resisted the temptation to take strong painkillers and leave the splint off, ‘cos that would be storing up trouble for the future …

thumb in splint

taming “Miss Jessop”

This morning’s project was “taming Miss Jessop”. It’s a rosemary I love, and I’d planted it five years ago next to the steps, so I’d brush past it. Sadly, it’s got way too big, despite twice-yearly pruning! A pest to keep off the steps, and taking over most of the herb bed – not good. So it has to go, and a replacement be put in.

So, wresting the half-barrel that has been filling my front room with the smell of beer for the last three days was hard work … being conical, it won’t roll in a straight line! Then a shoving all the rubble and broken concrete that I’ve accumulated into the base. Then buckets of rather poor soil, from one of the raised beds and topping up the raised bed with home-made compost (of slightly dubious quality – never mind!).

Today’s final stage – planting the replacement. The current bush still has enough flowers to be attracting bees, so won’t be taken out from a week or two yet.

Fortunately, my “corset” back brace seems to have done its job, and my spine feels relatively untraumatised.

Also, good news on the weight loss front! S-L-O-W but hopefully steady. Two months of watching what I eat, and I’ve lost three and a half kilos. About 5% of my weight, and “The NHS states that, for those that are obese, a loss of 5% of body weight along with regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by over 50%.“. I’ve averaged just over 1500 calories a day … but could do with increasing exercise a bit.

weight loss graph

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before

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after

pre-diabetic stuff

Weight loss is going … slowly. I agreed a target of 65Kg at my initial meeting with the pre-diabetic mob (aka “Diabetes Prevention Programme”). I’m hoping to get there by Midsummer’s Day!

Meetings have been cancelled, of course. But yesterday there was the first “meeting-by-phone”. It lasted around 90 minutes… my landline cordless handset ran out of juice, so I had to sign out and sign back in on the bedroom phone. No too good for me – the guy running it kept failing to talk into his phone, and going too quiet for me to hear. I’ve suggested they think about headsets, or automatic volume control, or something … I’m sure I’m not the only prediabetic with hearing loss!

graph of weight loss

isolation

So, I’m half way through a week of self-isolation (for possible COVID-19). Yes – a week: it’s only a fortnight if there’s more than one person living in the house – though I expect I’ll be on “social distancing” for the foreseeable future.
 
Cough gradually diminishing, slightly feverish and disturbed nights, and daytimes are half-hour spells of feeling extremely energetic followed by three or four hours of extreme exhaustion! I’m trying to use the brief energetic spells constructively – the grass got cut, and some leaflets for the Green Party printed, in yesterday’s energy spurts.
 
The most frustrating thing is not being able to go out for a walk! That’s an essential component of my “eat less and exercise more” programme to avoid progressing from “pre-diabetic” to actually being diabetic. And resuming a near-daily walk will be the major difference between “self-isolation” and “social distancing” for me.