Archives For breathlessness

The 13th of April.

Three good days is too much to ask. Well, to be fair to my lungs, I was doing okay this morning, I only started to struggle after I attempted a moisturising session. It is a good thing it’s not necessary every day.

As I’m sure you’ve grasped from that, it’s been a wild ride of a day. I spent the morning in my pyjamas, while I wrote up a blog post and argued with Justine Greening through the television. Well, more like she made a speech and I voiced my disagreement with each point she made. It was fine, no one was around to hear me.

After lunch, I had my strenuous moisturise, then I recovered with oxygen and some crochet. Despite me paying more attention, today I read the pattern wrong, so I did a whole round, started the next one and got very confused. Eventually I worked out what I’d done, unravelled it, then put it away. Too much today. Anyway, then we decided to watch a film that was in Danish so I can’t crochet and read subtitles at the same time.

It looks like might have a family for Spike. It’s their first cat and he is an ideal candidate – he is probably the most affectionate cat we’ve had and he’s such a good boy. I don’t want him to go!

The 14th of April.

Back to quite reasonable breathing today. And my eye has been fairly well-behaved as well! Lucky me.

This morning I had the lovely surprise of coming across Matilda on tv. This was rather fortunate as Good Friday television is appalling – instead of Victoria Derbyshire, there was some sort of Tinkerbell pirate film on. Not ideal.

Most of my day has been spent crocheting, and I haven’t had to unravel any today! Not much left to do on this one so hopefully I’ll finish it this weekend, then I can start work on whatever I decide to make for Jenny’s baby.

I had a tiny chat with Christine when she was on her way home from the airport, because Mommy hadn’t answered her phone. However, we had just really got talking when Mommy called her back so she ended our call. Obviously I am not interesting enough.

And Trump is trying to start World War 3 with North Korea. Two baby men battling with their egos. We’re fucked.

Orlando the Manatee.

I made this months ago, but didn’t want to put up a photo until I knew he’d arrived at his destination.

The 12th of March. 

I had a minor breakdown last night. I got very sad and scared about my current state, and had to be careful not to let the tears start flowing because that would have made everything worse. Infections can cause permanent damage, and I am really, really worried that I will not return to the way I was in November, which is the last time I remember feeling relatively good. If I continue to struggle so much every time I move, my life as I know it will change forever, again. I want to still be able to walk around my house feeling okay, able to go into The Glee and climb the stairs without being so scarily out of breath that I am frozen in my seat because even thinking about anything else seems to make it harder. If I have to keep using oxygen at home then we are going to have to stop fostering kittens, because they will play with and chew up the tubing. Then, if I can’t foster, I certainly don’t want to be in charge of homing anymore because it would be torture. 

Basically, if I do not recover to a satisfactory degree, I do not want to live like that. But I don’t want to die. And I don’t know where that leaves me. I will talk to the doctors tomorrow morning, find out if we’ve grown anything specific yet, and if they think there will be any long-term effects from this. I suspect it will take a lung function test in a couple of months to know for definite, because it could take a good 6-8 weeks to really get over this. And I hate waiting. 

I had a nice break today. My only mero dose was at 2, and the doctors had said that if I wanted to go out between doses that was fine, so I asked Daddy to come and pick me up, then we went home where I had a boiled egg and soldiers for lunch, and Mommy washed my hair. It has needed doing for at least a week, so it is nice for it to feel soft and fluffy again. 

Mommy and I came back at two, when I had my mero, and the nurse was very keen to start weaning me off the oxygen again, despite the test the other day. I agreed to swap to the low flow meter, so we can bring it down in smaller increments. Started at 0.8 litres and that was okay, then at six I came down to 0.5. I don’t feel very comfortable, but my sats are 99/100, so I’m okay, and I’m going to persevere. When I started on one litre, I felt like this, and it got better, so I’ll try. I’ll still have the small cylinder on 1 litre when I move because I will definitely need the extra then. 

While I was at home, Mommy made cinnamon swirls! We are so basic – she happened to see cinnamon swirl dough in a tin, which is literally a can of dough that is about five inches long? You open the can, and slice up the length of dough, then bake and add some icing! I haven’t had one yet though – we have brought them to hospital and I am going to have one with Dean tomorrow as he’s coming in for some chemo and is going to come see me beforehand. He is also an enormous cinnamon bun fan so it is only right that I share. 

The 13th of March. 

I had a very quiet but productive morning, and a very busy and fun afternoon. It’s been pretty nice. 

I decided I should really update my blog, because I’d been putting it off until I could be bothered to type up what I wrote for Mommy’s birthday surprise day, but it had really been too long of a hiatus for me to carry on procrastinating. There wasn’t actually as much to write up as I thought, so it wasn’t too intensive. Uploading the photos took a little while because of the WiFi, but one can’t expect miracles. I have been writing my journal updates in the Notes on my phone since I was admitted, because it hurt my arm too much to physically write when I first had the chest drain, so I have just carried on since then. Plus it made it quicker when I came to actually do the blog posts. I still have to write them into my diary but that can wait. 

With six posts to do, that took pretty much my entire morning. A different doctor is on the ward this week, Dr. Khan, but he hadn’t got much news – still nothing specific has grown, the pneumonia test that they sent off to Heartlands hasn’t come back yet but apparently it sounds like it could be that from my symptoms (I really don’t know anymore), and they would take some more bloods today to see what my CRP is doing. I’ve checked but they’re not back yet. 

Dean was planning to come and see me at midday after he’d been admitted for chemo, but things were hectic on YPU so he was delayed. That was fine, I just sat and did some crocheting until Vicky arrived at half past two with coffee and hugs. I spent a lot of time explaining what has been going on because she only had my instagram to go on, and we were amused by the doctor coming to take my blood and being surprised by us both knowing so much medical language and being so aware of how this all works. It happens when it’s been your life for so long!

Dean appeared at my window just after half past three and couldn’t stay very long as he had to go back to start his chemo, but I gave him a swirl and he gave us both copies of the magazine he has just launched (it’s called Hiskind and yes he has launched a magazine while having treatment for cancer he’s fucking amazing). We had a little bit of chat but he’s going to come back tomorrow because he’s only on fluids during the day. 

Vicky left about five, and Mommy had arrived by then. Oh I forgot, I was also dropped in on by Philippa and Kirsty while both Dean and Vicky were here, so I have been quite the social butterfly! 

I am doing this as University Challenge has started and hearing the voice of Monkman made me sit up with excitement. I think he is even better than the guy who wore the leather vest. 

The 8th of March. 

In total contrast to yesterday, many things have happened today! Last night I got told I needed to be nil by mouth from midnight because endoscopy were probably expecting me to go down for my bronchoalveolar lavage (or bronchoscopy for short) in the morning. 

Ben came to see me first thing and we had a very brief chat, which concluded with the decision that I would indeed have the bronchoscopy. There were only two other people on the list so I wasn’t waiting long until my turn. 

Dr. Thompson was doing the list, so when I went down to endoscopy, we had the chat about what he would be doing and I signed the consent form. As he explained the process, I realised that it was going to be horrific and I would never have agreed if I knew what I know now. I was unable to have any effective sedation because my sats were too low, so I was awake for the entire thing. Here is what happened:

Firstly, I had to do a deep “Ahhh” and he sprayed the back of my throat with lidocaine (local anaesthetic) which stung like crazy and numbed the back of my throat, which made me feel like I couldn’t swallow. Oh and I’ll say now that I coughed intensely throughout, to the point where I nearly threw up multiple times. 

Then another “Ahhh” to spray the vocal chords, so then I was coughing, in pain and couldn’t speak. I was able to signal that I could not tolerate having it go up my nose – if you imagine, the camera is about 4mm in diameter, and I could barely cope with the thinnest NG tube available, so having an endoscope up my nose and down my airway was not an option. 

One more spray, then I lay down, but then he sprayed me again and I had to sit up to cough more. He gave me 2mg of midazolam which my liver gobbled up immediately and did absolutely fuck all, so I was completely conscious, eyes screwed shut, biting down on the plastic guard that was in my mouth to stop me biting through the scope. He put the camera down my throat and into my windpipe, then deeper into my lungs, where he squirted some water which was then collected to be tested for all the bugs. I was coughing and coughing, unable to move because another doctor was holding me down, telling me I was okay and to “Just breathe” (which is really NOT FUCKING HELPFUL), honestly feeling like I might die from the strain of it. Finally he pulled it out and I had an even worse coughing fit and nearly threw up again, and he sort of patted me on the shoulder and told me to breathe. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t want to cough any more, then I was brought up to the ward, where I had to have my obs done every fifteen minutes and remain nil by mouth for another hour and a half, and I just wanted a hug and to have a cry. It is the literally worst fucking thing I have ever had done to me.

Mommy came in early, and I had a little cry when I related the experience to her. She gave me lots of hugs and thankfully the nurse who was doing my obs was amusing. 

Sometime before midday, a vascular nurse called Donna came to see me to talk about lines, and she said that they’d talked to Andrew Willis and he’d agreed that the mid-line was the best plan, so she’d come back after one o’clock with another nurse called Caroline and an ultrasound machine and she’d put one in. 

I ate some food and drank some coffee, and it wasn’t long before Donna returned with all the gubbins. She found a nice vein using the ultrasound, and I actually could understand which black blobs were veins and which were arteries. Basically, if she could squish it and it went away, it was a vein, and if it pulsed, it was an artery. She and Caroline got gowned up and covered me in various sheets, and put some lidocaine in my arm. She got started, and it was all going okay until she tried to feed the wire into the vein for the line to follow, but something seemed to be getting in the way. Caroline picked up the ultrasound, and we could see the vein, but then there was a large black blob that wasn’t a vein or an artery, and it was stopping anything going any further up my arm. She couldn’t try any more for fear of seriously damaging the vein which would leave us with no options, so the next option is that I have to go to interventional radiography for them to use dye to find good veins. And of course I am allergic to the standard dye. Donna and Caroline went down to talk to Andrew, but he wasn’t here this afternoon, so Tracy (the appointment coordinator) has booked me in for a line, but I don’t know when that’ll be, and Andrew and Dr. Hopkins who has also been involved have been emailed. 

As they were finishing, a porter came to collect me for my chest x-ray that I probably should have had on Monday after the drain was taken out. That was not very interesting, and I’m sure the results will just show that my lung has re-inflated. 

Upon my return, I found Philippa and Kirsty from the liver team in my room, talking to Mommy, so they cheered me up from my shitty day. 

I am exhausted, and I would really like some more progress. My breathing has improved – I’m not getting as breathless when I talk, for example, but moving is still a huge struggle. And somehow I think that I am not going to recover very quickly. 

The 9th of March. 

Oh, frabjous day, I have a line!

At eleven o’clock last night, the cannula site started bleeding. My immediate thought was “Oh, fuck.” but I was pleased because it meant that my need for a line was even more urgent. Thankfully, the cannula itself was still working, so I was able to have my meropenem through it. The nurse doing IVs last night offered to put another one in my right hand and I was able to warn her off, but she was quite keen. Last time I let people cannulate my hands, they were destroyed. 

We had no idea what time I might be going down to angio to have my line put in, if at all, but I knew they would want me to have been nil by mouth, so I elected to starve until we knew what was happening. Plus, the nursing team were not thrilled that I wasn’t eating or drinking, so they made extra effort to find out what the plan was. I was effectively on hunger strike, but it was directly related to the outcome, because I knew if they called me and I had eaten, they wouldn’t be able to necessarily do what was needed. 

I stayed hungry all morning, and I saw all of the respiratory and haematology doctors. Ben and his team are just waiting for results from my bronchoscopy, so hopefully tomorrow we might know something from them. The haematology chaps just pretty much wanted to know why I was still here, as if it’s my choice. It’s just that we (the doctors and I) need to know that if I’m discharged, I’m not going to be back in 48 hours complaining of other symptoms. So we do the tests, get back all our results, and if something needs treating, it gets treated. If not, I suppose it just means I am still recovering from the pre-Christmas pneumonia and my right arm still needs deflating. Fingers crossed there is news in the morning. 

I was told by the nurse in charge that she had agreed with the booking coordinator that they would talk at 12, then I would know if I was going down this afternoon or whatever the plan would be. However, at 12, the nurse here rang and got no answer, then she had to go to a meeting, so we knew nothing. Two hours passed, and I was getting increasingly irate and hungry. Mommy went and hovered about for me, and found the nurse had returned and was in the office on the phone. Whether it was about me, I don’t know. But about half past two, a porter came to take me to angio! He didn’t have any oxygen, so had to go and get some (you would think that for respiratory patients it would be a requirement), then he and a student nurse took me downstairs. Then we had a problem down there because nobody had done a theatre checklist on the ward, so we did one in recovery, then the nurse had to go back upstairs to get my nurse to fill in her half of the checklist, and she came back (after getting lost) with my checklist and a red wristband to tell people that I am allergic to things. 

I had a chat with a few people I now know down there, including Mark who has done a venoplasty on me before. Turns out the reason Andrew hasn’t been around yesterday and today is because he’s off sick, which is frankly unacceptable, but I suppose even doctors get poorly sometimes. Still, one of his “senior colleagues”, Dr. Hicks, was looking after me, and had been there when my case had come in on Tuesday. He decided that we were going to do a PICC, not a mid-line, and I thought I’d let him because if he fucked up my veins, he’d just have to fix them, and he would be in trouble with Andrew. I had not got the energy to argue. He also felt that dye wasn’t going to be necessary, and he could do it with just the ultrasound. Rather defeated the purpose of me going down there in the first place but OH WELL. It didn’t go swimmingly to begin with – he started on one side of my arm, didn’t seem to find a vein there, so had me flip it over. He found one there, but something caused a problem because he had to take out the wire and line he’d got in, then have me put my arm back the way it was originally. He finally got into a vein and it was all going to work, when I heard him say “Oh, I’ve done it wrong” which is not what one wants to hear on the table. He just meant that he’d cut the wire in the wrong place, so it was too short and he needed another one, thank god. When he got to the final bit, when the end of the line is being positioned very close to the heart, the x-ray machine came out and this time I could see what was happening! He was working on my left side and the screen was on my right, so I could watch my chest rise and fall, and the line thread across the screen into the dark mass that was my heart. It was slightly unnerving when I could feel the tip poking inside me, and I swear my heart jolted in my chest when it got prodded. 

When I came back to the ward, I pretty much shoved a sandwich into my face, then I was wondering when I might get my afternoon dose of mero, because I wasn’t here when it was supposed to happen. Just when it looked like it might be coming, somebody in the bay across from my cubicle crashed, so everybody charged in there with trolleys and machines, so I didn’t get my drugs until half past six. I don’t mind, obviously I understand that my antibiotics are not quite the priority when that sort of thing happens, but I am going to be very tired when I finally get my night time dose. I may try to go to sleep and just leave my arm available. It has been a long day.  

The 28th of February. 

Happy Secret Surprise Day! Looking back, I actually booked this in August, so well done me for having the foresight to check so far in advance. 

No entertainment on the trains this morning, just the policeman I saw surreptitiously tucking a spoon into his jacket. Was he expecting some kind of cereal emergency later on? I will never know. 

The Euston chap arrived promptly with the ramp, so Christine wasn’t waiting to meet us for long. We all got in the lift, and went down to the taxi rank, where I asked the taxi driver to take us to The Ritz! Surprise!

The doorman had to get a minion to let us in (ramp issues), so we got to go in the back way, seeing the private cars parked there (including an orange/gold Bentley 4×4 with the numberplate “I GLO” which was hideous) and the “private quarters” on the way to the afternoon tea area. Our coats were taken, and then I rather awkwardly had to take the arm of the maître’d as he took us to our table, because I am obviously infirm. 

We sat in the corner, so I oversaw the rest of the diners, and Mommy and Christine watched the people who were having some sort of reception behind me – honours were being given out at the palace today and we think Kirsty Young may have received one. Unfortunately, to confirm, I would have had to turn around (and quite blatantly stare) so we were forced to speculate. 

We ordered our teas (I was intrigued by a chocolate mint one, but settled on Assam Tippy Orthodox, so it wouldn’t fight any food flavours). 

The tea stand arrived, full of sandwiches and cakes. It’s a funny procedure – you eat your sandwiches (ham with grain mustard mayonnaise on sliced brioche, cheddar cheese with chutney on tomato bread, cucumber with cream cheese, dill and chives on granary bread, chicken breast with parsley cream on malt bread, scottish smoked salmon with lemon butter on sourdough bread and egg mayonnaise with chopped shallots on white bread), then when they are gone, they bring you more, plus the (still warm) scones with jam and cream. Scones are the best part – when they break apart without the need of a knife, they are perfect. I hate jam, but I like a very thin layer of cream, so it’s like butter. 

The cakes were a tad disappointing, but that was only in my opinion, because they all contained cream and/or some kind of fruity crap, which I do not like. Thankfully, my experience was saved by the cake trolley which came round, and I had a slice of chocolate and hazelnut loaf i.e. Nutella cake. 

By the end of this, we were all suitably stuffed, and we had to vacate the table by 3.15, so we retrieved our coats from the cloakroom and get one of the many waiting cabs to the V&A. 

We arrived a little early for our allocated slot in the Undressed exhibition, so we wandered around the free area, looking at the tombs of knights and stained glass until it was time to go to the fashion gallery. The exhibition was all about the history of underwear, so started from the earliest forms of corsets, up until the present day, which included the waist trainer. Funny how things come full circle like that. There were also historical pyjamas, dressing gowns, underwear as outerwear – Kate Moss’ infamous see-through dress was there, and one of Dita von Teese’s corsets. There was a beautiful gold crocheted dress; something I would love to be able to make. 

When we were finished with the exhibition, we had a chat about what to do next, and it seemed that the most sensible thing would be to stay at the museum until it closed, looking around the rest of the free exhibitS, when we would get a cab back to Euston. 

So for an hour we bimbled about, looking at Raphael’s cartoons (not that kind of cartoon) and learning about Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard, but a man of whom I had never heard. 

When we left the museum, Christine went to get the tube home, and Mommy and I climbed into another waiting taxi. Very lucky with them today. Then it took us a good half an hour to get back to Euston, where we purchased magazines and beverages, then took up our usual spot in the assistance office until it was time for our train. 

No waiting in the cold on the platform today, and no delays getting back, so this time we were home by half past nine and I am happy to have given Mommy a nice birthday treat. 

The 1st of March.

Argh. Had Zopiclone last night but it did no good, just feel crap today without having had any extra sleep. Breathing has been dreadful. 

Mommy and I were both at the chiro this morning, with her going first. When it came to my turn, I got her to work on the thing that happens across my back when I lie on my right side (which I have to do to sleep), and she stretched out the abdominal muscle that has been spasming multiple times every day. We shall see tonight if it’s had any effect. 

This afternoon, I’ve been writing about yesterday, trying to talk to Imelda/anybody that can tell me what’s happening with my arm, and agonising about the Old Hallfieldian Society meeting tonight. My breathing has been so awful that I really didn’t feel like I could face it, but I didn’t want to be the reason behind another cancelled meeting because there wasn’t a quorum. 

I decided I would go, and if they needed me, I would stay. Then, when Celia answered the door, she said just to stay for half an hour while Mommy read the paper. So I stayed for most of the agenda, not contributing much but that didn’t matter.

Now, back home, and I’m going to have pancakes.  

The 4th of February. 

I do not like diuretics one bit. So much peeing. If this makes no difference to my arm in a couple of days I will be rather annoyed. More annoyed, I should say. I’d really like to wear jumpers that aren’t massive and coats that are actually warm. Sigh. 

Blog post this morning during Saturday Kitchen, then I had to be at Lyn’s house at twelve for another Cats Protection meeting. Part of it involved going down her garden, so I stayed in the house and made friends with her big black kitty. Very soft and floofy but also moulty, like Oscar was. 

It wasn’t a long one, but I was still quite hungry for my lunch when we got back. Then this afternoon, we have made Nigella’s quadruple chocolate loaf cake. It is a behemoth. 

Today is World Cancer Day, and I’ve been wearing my Anthony Nolan Unity Band. I can’t quite believe this year is ten years since I was diagnosed. I don’t know what I expected my life to be at this point – I suppose I thought I’d be fine, or dead. Certainly not this weird, in-between state, constantly breaking down in ever more creative ways. Sure, I’d like to be fine, but I don’t want to give up the good things in my life for that and I think I’d have to. I’m willing to pay this price. 

The 5th of February. 

If it’s not one thing it’s another. The arm is still exactly the same, and my back is really bad – the right side of my lower ribcage is super stiff, so deep breaths are a problem, standing and walking are even worse than usual. God I wish the bloody pain team would just give me an appointment so I could get a drug that works and doesn’t make me sick, unbearably itchy or incapable of breathing. 

Day largely spent in front of the television – Sunday Brunch and rugby, while I crocheted a sock. It’s just a practise, not going to be wearable, but if it works then I can do it again properly. 

This evening, I’ve been out at The Glee to see David O’Doherty. I planned on using the lift as my breathing is still worse than usual, but then I was told to ask inside the venue and they’d take me to it. Unfortunately, that kind of defeats the purpose because to get to the lift, I’d have to leave again to walk to the back door where the lift is, which makes me breathless anyway. So I climbed the stairs, and was taken to my seat which of course was as far from the door as possible. At this point, I was out of breath to the point where it scares me. I just have to sit and wait for it to get back to normal. 

The show was great, just what was required. Denise from Cats Protection was there with her husband and we were saying that we really needed some relief from the awful world. He definitely was that.

The 31st of January. 

Well, I’ve spoken to the person who books appointments for Andrew’s clinics, and she can’t do anything until she’s spoken to him. I don’t feel ultra-confident that she will do this very quickly but hopefully she’ll surprise me. Still no sign of deflation, and I am measuring it every day. 

I have been vastly unproductive today, apart from a blog post this morning. I was at the chiro this afternoon for the first time since before Christmas, and it was not fun, but very necessary. I know it’s bad when Trine winces upon touching my back, exclaiming about how it feels “solid”. She did lots of kneading and crunching and stretching, and I’m going back in two weeks. Hopefully I will not be in pain when I try to go to sleep tonight like I have been for the past week. 

Afterwards, we had a very quick trip to Sutton so I could get a box file for Cats Protection post-adoption forms, and while there bumped into June from Black Sheep, so had a tiny chat before she had to get back to work. 

Need to decide on my next crochet project. Mindless hooking is my meditation. 

The 1st of February.

I have been surprised! The lady I spoke to yesterday actually rang this morning – she has seen Andrew and he’d like me to go to his clinic tomorrow, which I can definitely do. Still exactly the same size. 

The rest of my day has not been so great. I needed oxygen after getting dressed, have been coughing all day, and my back still feels stiff and painful. Stupid garbage body. It would be nice to be able to complete basic tasks without feeling like I’ve just sprinted 100m. 

I had been considering a new crochet project, and as we are meeting Naomi for lunch tomorrow and it was her birthday the other day, I thought I would make her something. I had seen a pattern for a cute bunny, so I’ve spent my day making that. It is super adorable. 

The 27th of January.

Long days and late nights do not suit me. It took me ages to go to sleep because I was so cold, so I’ve been absolutely exhausted today. 

I got up at half past nine, very reluctantly, and stayed in my pyjamas all morning. I didn’t have the energy to engage with This Morning so I let BBC 2 burble in the background while I wrote about yesterday. That took a long time because I was just feeling useless and wretched, and that is why I have not typed it up yet. 

After lunch, we changed the dressing on my arm (small puncture wound, very little to report) and I put on some warm clothes. My arm has not even started to deflate yet and even my big jumpers are getting a bit snug. I had a bit of a lie down but lacking the capability to nap in the day, it doesn’t really help, so I came back downstairs and have just been a big floop. 

I answered some Cats Protection emails and spoke to Shaki, but I can’t even remember what about now. I might take some Zopiclone tonight and try to have a big sleep. Feel like garbage. 

The 28th of January. 

A sleep has helped. Not back to normal yet but getting there. Another early night will be required. 

Having had Zopiclone, I can barely remember what I’ve done today. I know I wrote up my blog post about London and my venoplasty (update: still no improvement, fairly sure it’s actually getting worse), I went upstairs to unpack my new hairdryer, but other than that, I’m not really sure how I managed to while away the day. 

Definitely no watching of any tv that had to be paid attention to, nor any reading of books. I finished The Man in the High Castle on Wednesday, and I’ve got The Invention of Numbers out to read next but I haven’t started it yet. 

I got in touch with the gym to pause membership again and they’ve done it for five months, although I can resume it at any time. Frankly I’ve got no idea when I’ll be fit for any kind of activity; I can barely walk from room to room without getting distressingly breathless.

New body please.