Friday, 20 July 2012

There's Klingons On The Starboard Bow

You'll have to excuse the date on today's blog but I started writing this yesterday in case I forgot what I'm about to relate. So often I've thought 'I must remember that for tomorrow's blog' and then sat down in front of the computer to find it has gone clean out of my head. Not this time failing memory, gotcha!

This is probably going to offend at least half of the people who read this but I feel it has to be said. Please be assured I am not getting at anyone or setting out to intentionally offend, I just have a point of view that I feel needs airing so here goes.

I have noticed a slightly alarming trend amongst my fellow PH sufferers of late and that is the upsurge in the use of diagnostic machines. There are machines for measuring blood pressure, how much oxygen is in the blood, how fast/slow/regular the heart is beating. Really? You need a machine to tell you when you need oxygen? Can't you tell?

I have had PH for coming up to five years and when I first got in touch with fellow sufferers for advice and support the overwhelming one piece of advice I was given was 'listen to your body'. Now it took a while to get tuned in but by 'listening to my body' I can now recognise the very early signs of infection, when my heartbeat has changed and when my blood pressure might be up. I will admit to having a blood pressure machine, which I was advised to get before I was diagnosed, when they thought I had angina, it has no batteries and I haven't used it in over two years. I will also admit to having a stethoscope that I use to confirm a chest infection, that is CONFIRM, not 'look for' a problem before I go dashing off to the GP for antibiotics.

However it transpires that some PH sufferers will not retire at night before checking every vital sign first. Now I am the first to admit that those of us with serious illnesses tend to become a little precious with our health but there is a world of difference between taking sensible precautions and becoming overly concerned. I see this rise in machinery as a worrying step in the wrong direction. Let me explain.

I work on the theory of don't go looking for trouble because it will find you soon enough. I must be one of an extremely small percentage of the female population that doesn't go for routine smears or mammograms. This refusal to conform has brought accusations of being selfish and reckless let alone setting a bad example. Why? It is my body, shouldn't I be able to do with it what I want? I stopped going for smears about ten years ago when I missed an appointment and decide not to bother making another. My GP nagged and nagged about it but even she has given up and accepted I don't want these tests. I'm not reckless, if there is something amiss I get it checked out, as my recent trip to the breast clinic will testify. Since being diagnosed with PH I reckon that with all the tests, x-rays, scans and other examinations I have every year if anything nasty is lurking it will soon be found out so I've become even more relaxed. And to be honest having one terminal illness is quite enough, I could not cope with knowing about or having the treatment for another serious condition. There is a limit to my resilience even if I like to pretend it is infinite.

So back to my problem with self testing, picture this. You are testing your blood pressure just before bed on a Friday two days before Christmas Day. Your blood pressure is up, not by much but enough to make you wonder why. There is no GP service and your PH team will not be back until Tuesday at the earliest. What do you do? Do you rush off to your local A & E where you, and your loved one, sit with drunks for a couple of hours? Then when you see the doctor he has never heard of PH and sends you away with a tablet, which you are unsure you can take because you don't know if it will cause problems with you other meds. Or do you decide to wait until Tuesday all the while worrying yourself sick and taking countless readings, each of which is higher than the previous one, and ruin everyone's Christmas? Which do you choose, either scenario is bound to raise not only your blood pressure further but also the pressures of those around you. Wouldn't it be better to enjoy Christmas in blissful ignorance? Chances are it is only a temporary blip anyway, or would have been if you hadn't stressed yourself out about it and made it worse.

Can anyone see where I'm coming from here?

My final point, although self testing has its place, in diabetes for instance, any routine testing isn't always the best course of action. How many times have we read about women having breasts removed unnecessarily because of a mistake on the mammogram. How many have had horrible operations and chemotherapy that they didn't need because someone mis-read the smear? And the most frightening of all, how many have died because they were given the all clear after a lump on a mammogram or cancer cell in a smear test went un-noticed?

'Listen To You Body', probably the best advice I've ever had.

Smirnoff came in this afternoon and sat in the middle of the living room and stared at me. Nothing wrong with that I hear you thinking, that's what cats do. I also didn't think anything of it until he turned around to go out again. His entire right side was green, a mixture of seeds and those infuriating sticky ball things. Battle then commenced to remove the seeds and restore him to his natural sliver grey. I don't know what sort of seeds they were but they were hell to remove. Not only were they stuck really well into his fur but they had sharp points to them so I kept stabbing myself on them. Smirnoff himself didn't help as although he stood still for the first couple of minutes he soon got annoyed with me pulling and tugging at his fur and before long I was trying to avoid claws and teeth as well as the sharp points on the seeds. Eventually he ran off taking the remains of his unexpected cargo clinging to his side. Battle will recommence the minute he walks back though the cat flap, with some new additions to his collection no doubt.

Olympic Watch

Welcome to a new feature to my blog that will last until all the fuss and bother has died down and life returns to normal.

Last night it was announced that UK Border Agency workers are among thousands of Home Office employees who will walk out on July 26 in a row over jobs, pay and privatisation. Honestly it is getting so bad that it almost isn't funny anymore. For those who do not realise the significance, July 26 is the day before the opening ceremony and most likely to be the busiest day of the year at our airports. All I can say is at least they can't blame G4S for that one but don't worry Olympic Watchers, G4S are bound to come up with something to top that very soon and when they do you can read about it here.

The assault on the bathroom continues today but by this evening I should have some new tiles in the shower area. If I don't I'm going to have one grumpy husband as he is already muttering darkly about 'being behind'.

My cold is slightly better today, although I still have a nagging headache and a sore throat. I braved Tesco this morning to get loads of fruit and Tangtastics. My appetite has plummeted and whenever that happens fruit and sweeties always seem to be the answer. Actually the trip out helped as my head cleared and I became less stuffy. I did have other shoppers scuttling from my aisle every time I sneezed though.

Laurence is coming for tea today, and I'm so excited. I was hoping to make a cake but I don't feel up to it so I've bought one instead.

Husband has just come running into the study with blood streaming from his hand. I'd better go and check him out. I just hope this doesn't mean a trip to A&E.