Posts Tagged ‘COPD’

Well, they visit Dubrovnik…

One of the many benefits of cruising is that one gets the chance to see so many friends, as yet unmet: One also get the chance to see friends have already met, such as one the bartenders from a previous cruise who had already advised the staff minding the Champagne Bar that Podge & Tubbs had claimed as their haunt for this cruise, that Podge had a penchant for Laphroaig while Tubbs liked Bombay Sapphire. But that’s a by the by.

It is always fascinating to meet new friends, and so it was for Podge & Tubbs, especially on this cruise as approximately 50% of the passengers were virgins and Podge & Tubbs are always willing to shine a guiding light for virgins and advise on what’s best, what’s good, what’s not so good: Obviously such views were subjective, which they were always keen to point out. The virgins are of course first time cruisers.

On the eve of the cruise, their table companions for the evening were virgins and they were keen to hear about Dubrovnik as Podge & Tubbs had already been there before. The companions were particularly keen to know if there was far to walk to get to the town. Oh don’t worry about said Podge. The boat parks just outside of the harbour and it’s just a short tender ride direct into town.

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These pictures were taken in 2005 with a very tired camera showing the boats ‘parked’ just outside the port and a shot of the port itself from where the gate to the town is passed through.

Given the obvious frailty of a couple of the virgins, Podge & Tubbs felt good being able to tell them that all they would have to do was get onto the tender from the ship and straight across into the two harbour and town gates. If there was a better way of arriving in Dubrovnik, nobody knew.

At the end of what had been a fine evening both Podge & Tubbs retired to their quarters, Tubbs went to bed, Podge went to the balcony for one more nightcap before retiring himself.

The Boat’s Going The Wrong Way

Come early Morning, Podge, feeling groggy from his breathing but with significant improvement, got yup and made himself his early morning coffee and went out to the balcony to watch as they sailed into the port / harbour of Dubrovnik. But wait, thinks Podge, “where are we going” as he watched the Oceana sail past the old harbour and continued onwards until eventually turning to starboard, again and again and entering into what transpired to be a Cruise Terminal. Podge checked his location on Google Maps (below) and found they were parking some distance away. The information they had given to the virgins had been incorrect. The trip into town would have to be by bus. “Bugger” thought Podge. “Think I’ll lie low for a while” he mused.

Dubrovnik

The Cruise Terminal did not in any way reflect the old town that Podge & Tubbs remembered.

The Duchess was double unhappy!

Their extensive investigations and research indicated that the trip into town via the shuttle bus was around 20 minutes so they had no need to rush. And rush they didn’t. They did in fact just about make breakfast before it was shut and reopened for Brunch. Now as it happens, Brunch is almost exactly the same as Breakfast from Podge’s perspective, so he wasn’t worried anyway.

Eventually, with hunger sated, they gathered the necessary paraphernalia for a shore trip: Inhaler(s), drugs (all legal), camera, Kangaroo Poo Baseball cap for Podge, pink handbag for The Duchess and of course wallet / purse. All loaded up they joined the next available shuttle bus and set off for the town of Dubrovnik.

As soon as the arrived, their first port of call was to be ATM: Podge always likes to extract money from an ATM at every port. Nobody knows why, not even Podge: He doesn’t even keep the receipts as mementos. One can only assume that the oxygen starvation from Codgers Old Puffing Disease )Poor Podge) causes him to do irrational things. Who knows, but that’s what he does and that’s what he did this time. Unfortunately, The Duchess saw how much he had withdrawn and made a mental note for calculations during their time in town.

Money sourced, camera at the ready, cap on, wallet secured, on the opposite side to The Duchess, Podge led the way down into the town.

Might get some sweets

Coming into the Old Town from the other end was alien to Podge & Tubbs and it took them a while to get their bearings but heading down what Podge termed as the main drag, they soon enough came to the gateway to the harbour. At leat, they knew where they were. But, the walk had taken its toll on Poor Podge. Podge was struggling. Podge needed to rest but he also wanted to see around the harbour. They slowed down, stopping every few steps to admire the view as they slowly worked their way round the harbour past the Aquarium and out to the lighthouse. Here were some convenient seats to rest and allow Podge the get his breath back before they headed back to the the town centre to find a nice bar for a nice glass of local beer, just don’t ask Podge what the beer was. He can’t remember. He just knew that as he sat there enjoying his beer, that the Duchess, while enjoying her G&T , was calculating. Calculating how much had been drawn out against how much the drinks were (no food was to be allowed) so that the scale of future purchases could be calculated. Quietly, The Duchess worked out the exchange rate and was dismayed when she realised the 500 Croatian things was not much more than £50 . Bah, thinks Tubbs (the Duchess has regressed), might get some sweets but that’s about it.

Maybe not that many sweets

“Do you fancy another?” asks Podge. Humph thinks Tubbs, then thought ‘why not’. ‘OK” she says, “Just one more” she said emphatically. Podge made a mental note of the emphasis on ‘Just one more’. ‘Uh oh’ he thinks. ‘maybe should have drawn out more money. ‘Old Scrooge’ thinks Tubbs. ‘Well there maybe not that many sweets to be sourced but what will be, will be my choice’ mused Tubbs.

Eventually, their thirst was sated, Podge realising he wasn’t going to get away with a third one so up they got and away they went. Slowly, and slowly was the operative word here, Tubbs, trailed by Podge, made their way back towards the pick up zone all the time looking out for what could be purchase with what meagre funds remained. Eventually, Tubbs espied what she had been looking for and in they went.They both gazed around in wonder at the array of sweets and biskwits, sorry, biscuits. They so wanted to spend their money, what money was left that is, but they were stuck behind a bunch of, as Podge put it, ‘Squeaky Squealing Schoolgirl Grockles”who giggled and squeaked every-time they picked up an item looked at it and then put it back. After what seemed an interminably long time, they finally settled for a single small chocolate bar that smaller than a small bar that serves no purpose at all. Well, that’s what Podge reckoned anyway.

Eventually, it was their turn and they chose this and they chose that and they put back this and selected those, and put back those and select them and repeated. Eventually with some glee and air of arrogance, Podge announced that he did have some secret money so they could if Tubbs so desired, have this, that, those and them and they could event have a new fridge magnet. Tubbs was happy: Tubbs loved Podge and so Podge was happy and let’s face it, we all know that Podge loves Tubbs. Happy Podge. But, his breathing was still bad, if not a little worserer (Podge speak) and was by now struggling so the next port of call (get the nautical term?) was to be the coach pick up point and the trip back to where the boat was parked (another nautical term) and Podge just collapsed into his seat on the bus. Poor Podge.

Back on the boat at last, Tubbs knew that Podge just needed to rest so she made him sit down on the balcony where he could relax, enjoy the fresh air and have ‘small’ G&T or a chilled Chablis or maybe a beer (it was too early for Whiskey / Whisky). Naturally, he wasn’t going to be alone and soon enough Tubbs was with him with a nice G&T, Podge had opted for the same, and together they sat and relaxed.

And so, as the afternoon meandered slowly towards evening, His Podgeness and The Duchess sat and relaxed and watched as the boat untied all its strings and gently pushed away from its parking spot and head course back to the Adriatic Sea and turning right to head for Venice.

And, as the Oceana meandered her way Venice’wards (Podge speak), Podge checked out his photos. Today he had elected to take just Canon 5D with 40mm Pancake (making his digital SLR a point a shoot camera) so was interested to see how the pictures turned out. Podge was reasonably happy with the results.

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Having left Florence (from Livorno), Podge and Tubbs were now looking forward to another much anticipated stop – Naples. Not so much because they wanted to visit Naples (they really didn’t)  but more because the Duchess wanted, so much, to take a drive along the Amalfi Coast.

His Podgeness loved The Duchess so much that he explored all possibilities.

  • Option 1) – He could for instance hire a little 2-seater sports car (Maserati GranTurismo sprang to mind) and they could drive the coast by themselves with the warm Italian air rushing by, scarves blowing in the wind and some appropriate music playing in the background. But let’s be honest, the chance of either Podge or Tubbs finding their way along the coast and back in time for the ship to leave was too great to consider. Anyway, the GranTurismo had a roof: That just wouldn’t do. And it was expensive😦
  • Option 2) – He could perhaps arrange for a driver to take them along the coast in a nice drop top again with wind and scarves blowing and music playing. But when he explored deeper, he found the cost was rather more than his teeny weeny wallet could cover and so that idea was dropped
  • Option 3) – Hire a helicopter and fly along the coast! That’s just silly and Podge did of course realise that straight away and discounted it immediately. But the idea has been retained for future visits.
  • Option 4) – Hire two Vespa Scooters and simply ride along the coast at leisure cutting through any traffic that may get in the way, stop to admire views, stop to buy an Italian Gelato, yada yada. The idea sounded good but The Duchess couldn’t ride a scooter to save her life and, she wouldn’t allow Podge to ride one, given his track record on bikes and, they’d probably get lost anyway.
  • Option 5) – Book a P&O excursion in a coach and let them worry about it all: A much safer option… So, that’s what they did.

Option 5 proved to be the best option by far.

This options allowed Podge & Tubbs to enjoy a leisurely drive along the Amalfi Coast, the most famous drive in all of Italy. This gave the added benefit of allowing Podge to relax and continue to get his breathing under control: It was getting better but still wasn’t right but, it was not going to stop Podge enjoy the day.

The trip took them high into the mountains overlooking the Amalfi Coast stopping on the way in Sorrento.  After a quick visit to see some marquetry furniture being made, which, they declared,  was truly something to behold, they we’re set free to wonder at will through the lovely, almost romantic streets and of course the rather imposing Duomo.  Both Podge & Tubbs felt that this town was an absolute delight to discover.

As lunch time drew closer, Podge & Tubbs made their way back to the place from where they had been released after which the whole group was taken to a lovely little restaurant for an Italian style lunch accompanied by wine. The lunch was spinach and ricotta cannelloni with Mixed Salad and yes, believe it or not, Podge ate the lot. Naturally Podge also made rather an impression on the wine stock but fortunately the table next to them noticed their (Podge’s) love for the wine and being teetotal, gave him theirs.

Soon enough and, and not soon enough for Tubbs who was by now worrying about the bladder capacity of Podge, it was time to leave for the coach and the amazing Amalfi drive to guess where? That’s right, Amalfi. Naturally Podge had to make two slight detours on the way to the coach but once aboard, he was nice and comfortable, and very mellow.

Amalfi

The drive to Amalfi was underway and all too soon, Podge realised that for them, the Coach really was the only option: There really was no way Podge and Tubbs could have done this alone. The roads were narrow, especially for a coach and there were lots of coaches, and local buses doing the same trip in either direction. But the views were something else. NOTE: some of the pics below were taken from inside the coach so may be a little fuzzy.

It should be said that there was in fact an organised guided walk to learn of the history and architecture of this quaint town and to get an understanding of the history of the Cathedral of St Andrea and a chance to admire the Moorish and Gothic architecture. Podge however took one look at all the steps and ruled the tour out altogether. so, once in town, Podge & Tubbs were once more free to explore, so what did they do? They found a a little shop that sold Limoncellohaving tasted of course some before hand and found that it was good and so bought some. Next stop was the inevitable fridge magnet and tourist book before finding a little bar to rest and await the return drive back to the ship which again was along the mountain road before taking the motorway back to Naples and the ship.

Back on board, it was time for His Podgeness and The Duchess to head for their fivesies which inevitable because sixies before getting ready for the evening meal and finally returning to their cabin for a relaxing drink or three before giving into the need for sleep. Tomorrow was to be relaxing day as it was a sea day so all they had to do was relax for the whole day and for Podge to gather his strength.

The highlight of the day was to be passing through the Straight of Messina, trouble is, it was at 06:00 but this did’t bother Podge: He liked getting up early and moving to the balcony for his early morning coffee and fresh sea air. Trouble is, the weather wasn’t that good so the pictures were less than inspiring, a bit like the Straight thinks Podge.

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The rest of the day was just one long lovely day of relaxation as they sailed towards Dubrovnik, a great favourite of Podge & Tubbs. And so Podge just relaxed and concentrated on his breathing.

Poor Podge.

So, I saw my new COPD nursey yesterday. She’s a real sweetie but I’m not sure how poorly she thinks I am. Apparently, I’m stage 3 COPD, there’s only four so I’m nearly at the top already: Actually, that’s not funny but humour helps me deal with it. She went on to review my spirometry results and was confused that I had improved. It must have been a good air day methinks.  🙂 Nevertheless, at under 50% this is still less than one lungs worth (I know it’s not strictly true but in Podge’s world this works for me 🙂 )

Nursey upgraded my medication, I’d been on the same stuff since being upgraded from Asthma to COPD and asked if I would like to consider Pulmonary Rehab. I asked if this was where they taught you how to breath cos if it is, I assured her I had been breathing now for 62 and 2/3rd years. But I did understand what was meant so I agreed.

She then asked if I ever got down. Well to be honest, yes I do, and yes I do have the same thoughts described in the linked article above, thus:

  • Am I getting an infection in my lungs?
  • Is this the start of something really bad?
  • Am I developing pneumonia?
  • Will this lead to a stay in the hospital? (this week, it nearly did)
  • Am I going “downhill,” will I ever feel better again, or is this “it?”

I’ve had all of these thoughts and in fact just a few months ago I had entered what I term, the Valley of Despair, though I never shared this fact. But then, I read an article about a guy in Australia  (#copdathlete) with COPD but who’s lungs were operating at less than 30% (mine are 47%) but had recently completed the New York Marathon. Boy, did he inspire me and boy, did he lift me from the Valley of Despair. Spurred on by his achievements, I duly entered the Great South Run 5K  (22nd October) and the Great South Run (23rd October). and started walking lots. Why did I enter both. Well my rational is if I can complete the 5K but not up to the 10 mile then at least I’ve achieved something. If I compete both, well, that would be an achievement and half for me.

Anyway, back to the recap and me getting down, Nursey asked if I wanted anything for it, I guessed she meant anti-depressants and not Laphroaig Whisky so I politely declined the offer on the basis that such drugs was not a road I was happy to go down. And no, I didn’t want a Counsellor either. She recognised my stubborn independence and assured me that if I needed help or just to talk, to phone her. For that I was grateful. She even offered my an option on a district nurse checkin in on me at home if I required. Again, I declined but with thanks: I spend 2.5 hours each way computing to and from work so not sure when I would get a chance to see a nurse anyway.

Anyway, just three days after seeing Nursey, I went downhill, badly, and I took myself to the surgery where upon they sent waiting patients home so that they could look after me: Three of the thoughts above were once more in my head. Nursey tried to persuade me to go to hospital but I didn’t want to but she told me in no uncertain terms that if I declined again I must call an ambulance. Nursey has ever since been phoning me at home just to make sure I was ok (Podge likes Nursey).

5-days after I am still not too good (going to the bathroom leaves me out of breath) but hope to return to normality come Monday and once again I can start my walking regime for the great runs (or maybe walks).

I’m hoping that the new drugs will work, the steroids & antibiotics are beating the crap out  of this current infection and my weight is dropping: In the last there months, I’ve lost 7kgs so I’m well happy with that. And, now that I’ve consumed all my sherries I will once more cut out milk. In the mean time, the walking will continue and have upped my daily target to from 10,000 15,000 steps (at this rate, I’ll be walking to work).

Stay in touch and I’ll keep you posted on my progress and although today I don’t quite feel up to it, wish me well for the runs in October.

Poor Podge 🙂

 

One year ago I saw my heart vet doctor (I know this because Facebook reminded me 🙂 ). It was a notable visit but not for the right reasons. Read on.

05/05/15
So, today I saw my heart vet. What a waste of time; what a waste of space. “So” he says, “What’s been happening to you?” he asked.
“I’ve had two cardio versions” I said: “That’s where they stop and start you heart” I clarify for him.
“How did it go?” he asks.
I was tempted to say ‘Well, I’m still alive’ but I resisted. Instead I asked “What does it say in your notes?” 
“I haven’t got any” he says.
“Well” I say, “They failed”.
“So what did they say?” he asks.
“What does it say in your notes?” I ask back.
“I haven’t got any” he says.
“I have” I say, “do you want to see them?” I ask. I gave him my notes and he looked through them.
“Oh, yes your right, they didn’t work.” “What tablets are you on?” he asks.
I give him the list: A copy of the same list I gave him on a previous visit.
“Well, you don’t need these ones, or those ones. You might as well stop them”.
I looked at the ones he was pointing at. One was my anti-coagulant (Dabigatran) – apparently this was to stop me having a stroke and, on the basis that I haven’t had a stroke, they were clearly doing their job. Joking aside however, I was not going to stop them.

“But they’re doing a better job than the cardio versions” I say.
“No he says, you don’t need them. Anyway, how have you been?” He asks.
“Well, I was ok but I’ve gone downhill over the past week.” 

“Hmm” says he, “Why do you think that is then?” he asks.
“Oh, I’ve probably got a bug or virus.” I say.
“Yes, that’ll be it” he says. He checks my pulse; I’m still living. He’s happy but, suggests that we do a 24hour trace and a heart scan then we’ll see what to do next.
I was then summarily despatched.
My verdict? I’m staying on my drugs and deal with it my way. And, if I get ill again, instead of asking him what might be the problem I’ll just cut out the middle man and ask myself.
If I never see him again, it’ll be too soon.

Anyway, back to the present.Over the last couple of weeks I’ve felt quite well buoyed on maybe by the articles I’d read of a COPD patient (stage 4) having completed the New York Marathon and, since reading about that, I’ve subsequently seen other positive stories.

So, I’ve made my mine up…

I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself (there a are a lot of people far worse off than me) and ‘turn myself around’. To this end I’ve signed up for the Great South Run, preceded by the Great South 5K Run. My rational being that I’ll do the 5K run and I feel up to it, I’ll then do the main run. If I don’t feel up to it, at least I’ve done the 5K (both are on the sae day).

So, let’s look at my obstacles:

I’m fat – I weigh 99kg, I should weigh 76 Kg: I’d like to weigh 70Kg – (I want to be an Adonis, I never have been, I never will be but one has to have a dream) 🙂

I’m lazy – watching GoggleBox is more appealing than going for a walk (guess I’ll never be an Adonis then) 😦

I have COPD Stage 2 / stage 3 – The jury’s still out on which stage

My peak flow is around 320 (I don’t know what it should be but my guesstimate is around 500 – 550 – assuming good health)

I have arrhythmia / atrial fibrillation or, something similar but the ageing ticker seems to be behaving lately:

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Podge’s Heart Scales

I have a full time job: This is my normal work day:

  • Get up around 05:00 followed by normal getting up in the morning stuff.
  • Walk  1 km to the train station; catch train; switch train; switch train; switch train.
  • Arrive at work around 08:30
  • Work, work, work – desk based
  • Finish work 17:30 – 18:00
  • Reverse train route
  • Mrs Me picks me up at the station
  • Arrive home 20:00 – 20:30.
  • Try to go to be the same day I got up.

And in amongst all that, I need to try to work out how I’m going to prepare for my run. I do have thoughts on this.

So far, my walk to the station is going well: When I was holiday I could hardly walk to the end of the cruise ship. Today, I reckon I can walk a mile. By the end of May, I want to be able to walk 3-miles then, I’ll get on my bike again (if I can find it)

My next question is, do I revisit the [Milk: Good Food? Bad Food?] debate? I think I should.

I’m sixty two and a half and will be eligible for retirement in two and a half years. I want to be able to retire and enjoy retirement. If I do nothing else, I should stop being fat and in my mind, exercise is a major factor.

Oh and by the way. I’ve done the 24hr trace and had the scan but I haven’t been invited back to see him yet. I’m in no hurry.

This time, it’s not Poor Podge but:

Go Podge, Go

Wish me luck…

My next post will be about more exciting stuff, cruising. Yay.

I was recently sent to the COPD Nurse for what should be an annual review. I duly arrived at the surgery with plenty of time to spare and sat myself in a comfy chair and amused myself, whiling away a few ‘downtime minutes’ playing Candy Crush (I know, I need to get a life). Eventually, my name was called and into [the room] I went.

“Kevin, are you sure you’re OK” asked the nurse, ‘You’re breathing seems bad and your eyes are all red & puffy”. Thinking to myself ‘it’s probably not worthing asking for a date then’ I explained that me breathing has been bad for the last five weeks and that I had been eating steroids and antibiotics over the same period; “Otherwise, I’m fine” I say.

The nurse, having satisfied herself that I was ok to continue, then explained that she wanted to be breath into a tube connected to a breathing rate analyser (I don’t know what its really called). It looks a bit like those devices the Police use when they think you’ve been drinking and driving – I stress that I have no personal experiences of such things. Before ‘the breath test’ the nurse asked about my medication etc, after which she asked “Have you got COPD?”. “Yes” I replied, “That’s why I’m here” I continued, now a little confused. “Oh” she says’ “I don’t know too much about that I’m afraid but we should still do the tests and hopefully the GP will know what the results mean.

So, I breath into it, 3 times long and slow and 3 time as hard as I can as long as I can. As always, black dots appear in my eyes, everything goes fuzzy and I come close to, but not actually passing out. The nurse congratulated me. Apparently I did a lot better than she had expected. She printed off the results for the doctor to look at. I asked how I was looking as at my last test I was told my ‘score’ was 47%. She said she wasn’t sure but thought it was actually 53%. This confused me as I understood that COPD never improved. Hopefully it does!

My next appointment was with my GP. He looked at the results and was also confused. Given that I had spent the last 5-weeks on antibiotics and steroid without any apparent affect he hadn’t expected such results. He checked my heart as this had been bouncing around between 105 and 127 just sitting there: this was clearly inefficient. This was probably what was making my breathing so short though he did stress (pre-empting my next question) that this didn’t mean my COPD had gone away.

As I write this, I’m sitting on a train on my daily journey into London. During this time, according to my shiny new apple watch, my pals has been bouncing up and down between 67 and 129 and it does actually feel that way too.

The decision was to double the strength of my ACE Inhibitor and have another review in three weeks.

So, I am in a state of confusion and even despair. Do I have COPD or do I not have COPD? I think I do. Is my heart like it is because of COPD or is a problem in its own right? I have no idea. Will I ever again see somebody who knows about COPD. Confidence is low on that one.

I do know however that I need to fight my way out of the current situation. One way or another, I’m going to get back out on my bike and even start running: Both very slowly. But at least that will help me lose weight which must surely help my heart.

We shall see.

COPD – Creator Of Podge’s Despair

Poor Podge