Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A cold coming on?

So it is the end of August and I seem to have a cold coming on.  I hope this is not a big deal. Mainly I am quite hoarse and my right ear is effused and probably infected. The carotid artery sometimes pulses away and I am a bit deaf. Some crud came out so I hope I am on the mend.

I also have an infected tooth - on the right upper side at the back - pretty close to my ear. I saw the dentist yesterday and am on penicillin. He said my tooth problem is not related to my ear problem - though I think the pain in my cheek could actually be more from the tooth than my ear. Of course it could also be my right sinus - since the pain - though mild -  actually feels as if it is behind my right eye.  Tomorrow I see my dentist again. I'm not sure what he will do - I guess I need a filling or something. The tooth challenge is that I need to keep it in case I need to have my 'bridge" redone. Or I could get a couple of implants. On Saturday i see my dentist's son who is a periodontist and may have some ideas about the whole thing. Piffle. This is making me dopey.

When I saw my sinus doc a couple of weeks ago, my sinuses were perfect and I cut back my sporanox (anti-fungal) to one pill a day. However, my peak flow had dropped down a few days before and I started getting a little phlegmy - so after a week I got his approval to take 2 sporanox per day again - at least while I was on my RV trip. Since I am not better, I emailed him yesterday and confirmed I should keep on taking 2 - at least until I see him and/or my asthma doc. Has the sporanox lost its magic?

On the family front - my poor 17 year old grandson is having a very bad time. He had a fairly major sinus surgery at the end of July - to fix his broken nose and also deal with his ongoing sinus disease. After he got the stints out, he seemed fine. Unfortunately things went off track. He started to feel really sick while we were visiting -  a lot of nasal discharge, headaches, coughing and then diarrhea. At first it was thought he had strep. Then it was thought he was getting whooping cough - because an unvaccinated friend of his had been suffering from from whooping cough for a month and others were catching it from him, Then it was discovered he had a "c difficile" infection (hard to treat) plus a fairly easy to treat sinus infection. He had probably had the c difficile since the surgery and maybe because of the antibiotics he took for the surgery. It is scary. He has been getting IV antibiotics at his local hospital for the past 4 days. I do not know the news today.

My daughter (his mom) is not OK either. Her sinuses have not got completely better - though the blue light therapy seems to have killed off the bad bioifilm. We came home a couple of days early from our RV trip so we could offer a bit of moral support. That was actually good for me because it gave  me the chance to see my dentist and my cold really did not start until we got home. Piffle. Double piffle. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Compression Socks and Moon fFace

Lots of people wear compression socks these days. I think it is a bit of a fad like gluten-free diet for people who are not celiacs.

I have been wearing compression socks for about 20 years - because I have to - not for a fashion statement. I had 2 deep vein thrombosi (DVTs) in 1997. My doctor caught them and I took blood thinners to prevent the clot from moving into my lungs (causing a pulmonary embolism). I had no really bad repercussions - except that my left leg swells up if I don't wear a compression sock. I don't think this is harmful but it is scarey to look at.

Now I am getting swelling in both legs - though the left is much worse. It could be from the prednisone and other corticosteroids. The Mayo Clinic lists lower leg swelling as a side-effect of prednisone - so I'm not just making this up.

Most of the time wearing compression socks is not a problem. I just wear them under my pants.  But it is a pain in the hot summer weather when you would like to wear sandals or at least short socks. And the swelling seems worse when the weather is hot. So I am now wearing my long socks with shorts and bright coloured running shoes. I think I look pretty odd - especially when I wear the pink ones from Dr. Segal!.

 I am also beginning to think I might be getting a prednisone moon face. My mother got a very round face from taking a small prescription of prednisone for many years. I thought she looked like Chairman Mau. I think I am looking more and more like her. My cheeks and chin are rounder than I ever remember and I doubt that it's the 3 lbs I've gained now that I am eating like a normal person. I'm still pretty petite! Eeks

I am going to talk about this with Dr. Javer tomorrow. It may be just another aggravation of severe asthma but I don't have to like it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Mike bought me a fitbit on August 1 and I set it up the next day and have been using it ever since. My main aim is to walk 10,000 steps per day. I used to try to measure this with a much cheaper pedometer which I have had for years. I thought I had lost because it always popped off my waste band when I got changed, etc. How many times have I seen it skittering away in the BC Ferries ladies Room.

So now I have a fitbit alta. It is a bracelet with a watch face that you wear facing inwards. You do the setup on your smart phone. The most tricky part is getting the darn thing "buckled up."  There is no real buckle - just two little metal posts that have to be pressed into two small holes. I find this really hard to do because the skin on my wrist is a bit loose and I tend to pinch myself every time I try. However, I have persevered and seem to be getting the hang of it.

So far I have found it very motivational.  When you hit 10,000 steps, the fitbit buzzes and lights up. I have walked more than 10,000 steps most days since august 2 - with a couple of almost 9000 plus days.  I got a message on my phone just now saying I had completed a marathon - 42 km in one week. 

Regular exercise is very important for everyone especiallpeople with severe asthma - so this is a very good asthma story. More on my fitbit later.

Eyesight and asthma

I have to admit that my eyesight has really gone down hill lately. My main problem is that I am developing cataracts especially on my "good" right eye. People of my age do often get cataracts but people taking prednisone are more prone to getting them - so that is the asthma connection. I have also developed astigmatism which I never had before. 

For many years I  dealt with my declining eyesight using wonderful multi-vision contacts. However they are no longer useful -  I cannot make out detail whether close or far. They were convenient for painting, gardening, walking, cooking (with readers nearby) but impossible for driving. I tried a new prescription of progressive glasses to replace them - but could not get over the distortion. In fact my optometrist tried 4 different progressive layouts - but none worked for me.

In the end I got some new readers and new distance glasses. The first time I used my new distance glasses I felt like I was in the Imax with 3D glasses - everything felt hyper real. They are great for walking and OK for gardening. I have yet to get up the courage to try driving. They are not any good for painting or computers. My readers only allow me to read at a distance of 12 inches which pretty close. They certainly do not work for computers, cooking, painting, etc. either.

So - I am now getting a third pair of glasses for intermediate distance. I am looking forward to these as I hope I will be able to read some stuff - if I hold a bit away from me - so won't be tied to the 12 inches now allowed by my readers. How am I doing this on my computer? I have my laptop on top of a stack of books with the screen 12 inches from nose and I am typing on the keyboard way below. I increased my font and went to Helvetica which seems most readable. 

My new problem is managing all these glasses. I've tried hanging a pair around my neck and wearing a pair - but this is prone to paint and food getting in the hanging pair. I've tried having one pair in a soft case in my pocket - which limits me to clothes with pockets. I am OK with 2 sets. What happens with the third set? 

I put in the picture of the jelly fish which I took at the Vancouver Aquarium a few weeks ago. Are they not spectacular! Perhaps they can help with my current painting which is not going at all well. People get cataracts, life goes on - jelly fish are taking over the ocean!

The IBS Side of Life

While I am dealing with my asthma, Mike is dealing with his IBS. Well I am dealing with it too since IBS is definitely a family problem.

IBS stands for "irritable bowel syndrom." In my view it should stand for "irritable bastard syndroe." It is a truly difficult syndrome - not well known by most people yet very common. It seems to have 2 effects. First, the bacteria in EBS people's gut do not deal well with many common foods. Instead of helping digest these foods, the bacteria cause bloating, pain, loose stools, leakage, etc. Second, the gut's emotional centre reacts to these bacterial problems by convincing the brain to feel depressed, sad and even angry.

The good thing about IBS is that it does not cause physical damage to the body - as for example Crohns Disease or Celiac Disease do. The other good thing is that IBS can be managed with the right diet - but finding and following the right diet is a fairly daunting 

About 10 years ago researchers in Australia came up with the theory that IBS was caused by high FODMAP foods. Our GP told us about this diet and Mike and I have been working on following the right low FODMAP diet for him for about 9 months. We are usually successful at home - but going out for dinner or visiting people is very difficult because so much of the food that causes Mike and many other IBSers is common and even healthy for other people.

Saturday was one of those difficult days - but I think we are getting back to normal. BTW, I do not have IBS - I have a cast iron stomach with excellent bacteria doing their job properly - but nonetheless I pretty much follow the low FODMAP diet so that Mike does not mistakenly eat stuff that will cause him harm. Recently I bought my own salsa - with onion - not for him to touch.

The most problematic foods for a person with IBS tend to be garlic and onion. These foods are basic to so many cuisines that it is almost impossible to go out to a restaurant without encountering them. Thai restaurants are no exception. Can you provide a dish with no garlic or onion. Oh yes said the waitress.  But when the meal arrived - the waitress just mentioned there was garlic in the peanut sauce.  Mike should have sent it all back - but he didn't want to make a fuss so he just didn't eat it. The other problem was that, because I wasn't sitting beside him, he ordered a dish with broccoli - not good.for many IBSers - because it is in the cabbage family and cabbage is difficult to IBSers to digest. So not a good dinner for Mike.

Here is the basic list of what Mike can and cannot eat:

OK: meat, fish, sausages without onion and garlic, butter, potatoes, rice, bread, milk, yogurt, oatmeal, chard, kale, carrots, green beans, corn, hot chillis, honeydew, oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, walnuts, almonds, cane sugar, peanut butter, pop corn, rice cakes, mint tea, white tea, cranberries, a small amount of coffee with lots of milk.

NO:  foods processed or preserved using corn sugar (that includes everything processed these days including bakery cookies and other bakery products that do not specify using cane sugar), all alcohol, carbonated beverages, juice, garlic, onion, stone fruit (e,g, plums apples, peaches), grapes, peas, cabbage-related vegetables,  honey, dried fruits, dried beans, fennel, tomato paste, chocolate, cantaloupe melon, blackberries, cashews, pistachios, English tea
Well, we are learning. I think it is too bad that more people do not understand this syndrome because it is very debilitating and very common - yet relatively easy to solve once you know, As for going out to a Thai restaurant - I think he will have to stick to plain rice and soy sauce in future. Period.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New bed

Yesterday we went shopping for a new mattress for our bed. The idea was that our current foam mattress is 25 years old and needs to be replaced.  Mike thinks it is contributing to his ongoing neck problems. This expedition led to a lot of other things being bought including new wool pillows, pillow covers, 3 duvet covers and sheets, mattress cover,  and even a new phone for me. This post is actually mainly a test of my phone. Can I  get a picture? Yes I just took it.

Monday, August 1, 2016

BC Day - Feeling Good

Today is BC Day - August 1, 2016. A lovely sunny but coolish day. My breathing is very good and I am feeling fine. We spent the last few weeks RVing, boating and running our "granny day care" for our 2 youngest grandsons. We had a ton of fun with them - both at our place and their house. A highlight - their swimming pool. I gradually got into swimming and would like to do more - though I hate the burning of the chlorine. My last attempt to swim at our local pool (a few months ago) resulted in a very unexpected asthma attack - exercise-induced I guess. It scared me as I have never experienced that type of attack before. I realize I will need to be careful in a public pool - but sure enjoyed Rob's lovely backyard beauty. The kids went swimming 3 times a day and their improvements were amazing.

I have now taken sporanox for 6 weeks - the only side effects seem to have been a higher energy level (though maybe that is the result of the cure), better sleep, a bit of constipation (finally fixed by eating bran buds at bedtime) and a slight feeling of bobbing and shakiness - maybe because I am pushing myself more than I could in the pas - maybe because of the swimming and boating. I've had 2 blood tests so my liver must be coping OK.

I have gained about 4 lbs - I've been eating a lot compared to when I was sick. Back then I did not have the energy to eat a normal amount of food. I got pretty gaunt and lost a lot of muscle. My friend with COPD is dealing with that now - and has become excessively thin. I do not want to gain much more weight unless I know for sure it is muscle.Today I did weight training and used 8 lb weights - doesn't sound impressive but is my maximum weight for 15 reps right now. Hopefully I can build up to at least 10 lbs fairly soon.  I also did major work on our garden pond and set up my new "fitbit."

The fitbit is intended to replace my pedometer and encourage me to get lots of regular exercise - at least 10000 steps per day. It does have a clock face so I will wear it instead of my watch. The amazing thing is that I am setting it up myself - not asking Mike to do it. This is actually a major step since, when I am sick, I can't think clearly or calmly when I try to deal with technology - but today I can. . Right now my fitbit is charging - so I won't get any real results until tomorrow. .

I see Dr. Javer on August 16 - the last day of my sporanox. I am wondering what will happen when I stop taking it.  Will I just get sick again? Although i know I have an allergy-like reaction to fungus I don't know how the sporanox fits in. Fungus is always amongus so what happens when I don't take it?