Thursday 8 November 2018

War Room

Another not-really-a-post for now (sorry, no pictures) but I thought my family-followers might welcome a health/medical update and a few random jottings. If you have come on here looking for smallholder adventures, then I am sorry to disappoint you again. That version of Deefer-Dawg may well be back but for now she is still on holidays.

We have been in for two out-patients 'follow-up' visits this week, so I have some medical updates though, sadly, not yet that 'first prize' of a date for the heart surgery up in Dublin. That is the 'big one', the one that I hope will finally sort this breathlessness, fluid accumulation and congestive, ticklish cough and allow me to finally bounce back to full health and ability to do useful work round here. Meanwhile, I am still so short of breath that a walk down to the front gate to check the egg honesty box has me pausing at the lane to get my breath back. I can just about do the livestock rounds morning and evening (feed poultry, let them in/out) and I am OK getting coal and kindling from the carport in the fire bucket and getting the home fire(s) burning. That, though, is about the limit. Pathetic and frustrating.

So.... these out-patient appointments, then, one with the main 'heart' guy, the other with the respiratory lady. Regular readers may recall that previous visits in August involved the TOE (Trans-oesophageal echo-cardiogram) tube down the throat job which, in my case, necessitated a total knock-out sedative. That gave the docs the best ever pictures of the state of my heart damage including one important change.

Up to then 'we' had been talking about a replacement Mitral valve, either mechanical or pig spare-part. This is now no longer thought to be the case because my damage is a tear in one of the 'cusps' of the valve and can be fixed (they tell me) by sewing the tear, make do-and-mend style. The doctor here is, I know, in contact with the surgical team at St James's Hospital in Dublin (they don't do the surgery out West here, only the stents etc) so we are all just waiting on a date. Weeks? Months, After Christmas? Watch this space for updates.

The respiratory team, you may recall, had me in the 'Tardis' booth for some breathing tests (50% normal volume, if I remember right, and 63% flow)  but also gave me a sleep monitor pack for the one night, checking for sleep apnoea, snoring and other breathing problems. I saw a more junior member of the team this time but I noticed that there were some comments written on the notes by boss-lady. I may not have mentioned in here that the night chosen for the sleep-pack was not a good one for the coughing - there is a bit of a pattern here where too much walking around hospital corridors seems to stir up the congestive fluids and ensures I have a bad night.

I'd had to hand back the sleep-pack with a little hand written note in it explaining to the technician that she should ignore the 10 pm to 2 am period as the data would be rubbish;just go with the 2 am to 8 am bit where I slept like a log. They obviously didn't need this as their print outs show in great detail where I was asleep, with every breath a little stroke of the 'pen', and they can even tell whether I was sleeping on my left or right side, my back or my front.

In those 6 hours, apparently, I did not snore and nor did I have any full, stop-breathing, apnoea episodes but I did have a couple of what they call "sub-apnoea events", where your breathing slows right down but does not quite stop. However, when we discussed these and the coughing all agreed that it was not worth trying to 'cure' them while my heart valve is still leaking. Much more sensible to sort the valve, stop the back-pressure and congestion, get me into a steady state (I do pray that that means OFF the liquid intake restrictions and the diuretics!) and then look at it all again from the sleep-pack stage. Then we will know whether we still have a problem and can address that.

So we shook hands and said our good byes and promised to meet up again in 4 months which we all hope will be AFTER the heart op. We were half way down the corridor to the exit and suddenly heard our names being called - a nurse had been sent to chase us with one last easy option. My sub apnoea events, apparently, all show up when I am sleeping on my left side, so if I can sleep propped the other way (there are long-ways pillows, apparently) it might improve my sleeping comfort and be a "quick fix". I am happy to give it a try (I did last night) but my sleeping style seems to involve a lot of tossing and turning and I wake up every which way.

Finally, the non-medical news. The calendar eventually clicked round to the much heralded and eagerly awaited US mid-terms. Elizabeth, in particular LOVES her US politics and had been main-lining podcasts on the various 'races' House, Senate, State Governors and so on. That night was always going to be an all night vigil for her. She sets herself up a little "War Room" in the sitting room with the open fire lit, with a supply of blankets for her feet and the sofa equipped with lap-top and the i-phone, chocolate 'Mikado' biscuits and fancy crisps, plus tea on tap.

This is a US election and count, so she also had a little plan of the time lines for GMT (our local time, obviously) but also the "Eastern Time" equivalents in which the live feeds and pod casters tend to report. Polls close for some states at 7 pm (ET) which is midnight here, for example. Most states had closed by 23:00 (ET) which is 04:00 GMT. Hawaii and Alaska come along at 05:00 GMT but by then enough 'mainland' stuff has happened that our all-nighter has a clear picture of 'how it went', so she leaves me a little summary in case any interested parties should  call and goes off to catch up on some sleep with a request to be awoken with tea at midday. History will show that the Democrats took back the house and gained some good Governorships, plus got back one Nancy Pelosi as Leader of the House, but lost ground in the Senate.

And there you have it till next time.

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