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.

Far too warm!

The front room has been unusually warm for the last couple of days. Having taken the thermostat in there to check, it was over 80F (27C).  An investigation of the radiator showed that the head of the TRV had pinged off! On closer examination, the bits of the head supposed to grip the valve body had got embrittled, and clearly shattered.

shattered grip on TRV head

Not a good start, really. However, I discovered replacement valve heads at Toolstation for £9.99 – frustratingly just under the £10 minimum order for free delivery. I bulked it out with a couple of steel straps, to hold back the clematis over the porch at my Mum’s house.

To my astonishment, I had a phone call from the pre-diabetes people early afternoon! They’ve offered me an initial appointment next Tuesday – a really rapid response, considering their website warns of potential delays of up to four weeks! I had already decided to start keeping a food-and-activity log again, like the one I kept for several months last spring – precipitated by the scales hitting 74kg yesterday morning! I’d really like to keep around 70, though somehow 71 seems to be more realistic.

frustration and floods

I went to collect new glasses yesterday afternoon. Distance ones were great – but the “reading” ones were seriously fucked up (they actually were worse than no glasses at all). The assistant couldn’t actually work the terminal at the desk properly, so a) moved me to another desk then b) kicked the problem upstairs to her boss. Some 20 minutes later, we managed to establish that the glasses were for a reading distance of 30-40cm, when I had quite specifically stated that for use on the laptop (where I do most of my reading) it needed to be a distance of 50-60cm. So, assorted different lenses tried, and we reached agreement … but then a ten-minute wait to catch a passing optician to actually sign off on altering the prescription. Not happy, I’ll have to wait another week for them to be done.

Then a stroll down to the river, to see how the floods compare with previous years. I think this year is the highest I’ve seen – I reckon that if I were sitting at the Cafe tables outside Browns on the quay, the top of my head would be about 18 inches under water. And looking through the back door of Browns, the door seals and pumps did seem to be doing a reasonable job – there was only a few inches of water on the floor of the bar. Photo gallery below.

I caught the bus home. The bus could not turn right out of the bus station as the road was flooded, and had to crawl all round the far side of the City centre in roads jammed with other diverted traffic. A 45-minute journey instead of the usual less-than-ten.

And when I got home, there was a letter from my GP surgery, relating to a blood test last September. When I originally rang for results from that, they said everything was fine, although I discovered by accident at my last GP appointment (for something completely unconnected) that I have now crossed the line and am “pre-diabetic”. An hbA1c level of 44, in fact. The letter enclosed a form referring me to a “Healthier You – Pre-diabetes programme”. It was a paper form, with the instructions “Email completed forms to …“! After some ferreting about on the net, I did eventually discover an online version of the form. It may take a month or more for them to get back to me, apparently.

not really spring yet!

The forsythia brought in on New Year’s day is now fully open, and cheering the place up a bit.

forsythia

Much needed – I’ve had a really shitty time since getting home on 30th December: a cold, which has settled on my chest and in my sinuses. The result is almost no voice, blurred vision, headaches, and frequent dizzy spells. I had something similar a couple of years ago, which took around six weeks to shake off, and I’m desperately hoping that this resolves itself before then!

I’m due to go to London at the weekend, for a “wake” to celebrate the existence (and impending closure) of OUT – a gay social networking site I’ve been a member of since March 2005. I’ve met a number of good friends – known mainly on line with only the occasional meeting in person – through the site, and enjoyed a lot of stimulating debate on the forums there. I’ll be deeply sorry to see it go, though there’s promise of “an app” called Gmeet, to operate in a similar social space, for which I’ve contributed to the crowdfunder. Launch date is uncertain … possibly March?

lurgy

I got back from Christmas at my Mum’s at lunchtime on Sunday 29th December with a mild sniffle. On the Monday, I was losing my voice and had a splitting headache. By the Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, it was clear I had a fierce cold, which was settling in my sinuses, and my vision had gone very blurry.

For (as far as I remember) the first time since 1961 I didn’t stay up to see the New Year in!

Still very unwell, and I’ve only bothered to get up and dressed to put the bin out  last night for emptying, and today to bring it in again. Tomorrow will have to see an expedition of 200 yards to the Co-Op, as I’m nearly out of blackcurrant lemsip and honey to put in it.