Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Air That I Breathe

I suffer with COPD. That is a respiratory disease and stands for “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” that means that I struggle with my breathing because, my airways are obstructed.

The common belief is that it is caused mostly by cigarette smoking, and statistics are there to support that. Times are changing however as more research goes on and more is discovered each day.
If you read my first two entries then there is no need to rehash the same stuff about an umbrella term etc. There are other respiratory problem causing agents amongst which would be; exposure to toxic chemicals, mines, even paper-mills etc. Each of these are contributory factions that help cause respiratory disease. Of course with the resulting damage and lung volume losses, comes a shortage of oxygen to the blood stream.

This then creates further problems that are now heart related, you can see where all this is going to. As the disease progresses then so too does your medication changes in order to improve and accommodate your ability to breathe and for a better quality of life.

It is amazing how now, when I look around at the World, people and everything in general, that goes into a days makeup I give a little sigh. I can remember when things were quite different and now today, all of that has gone forever. I see people today who still don’t realize the value of the gift that they still hold in their possession.

What I mean by that is the everyday normal things that a healthy person takes for granted and never even has to think twice about. Natural things like a heart beat, a breathe of air a smell of fresh roses and cut grass or even the BBQ, or maple bacon cooking.
When you reach the stages of this disease with all its problems, you are acutely more aware of every sight and sound, every person and their behavior even as they walk down the street; for even moving and walking can be awkward and at times down right impossible for someone with COPD without some form of assistance.

This last week because my condition had worsened and my breathing even with oxygen had become even more of a struggle, they changed my medication and added another one, the dreaded Prednisone. I had started the day in better shape but then things progressed to the point that without any warning I coughed up a real mess of stuff, which turned out to be a viral infection. That necessitated a trip to the doctors and the resulting sequence of events.

I want you if you will to try and imagine trying to breathe with this disease.

I would like you to take a deep breath and hold it; now without exhaling take another breath, HOLD it! Now with all that inside of you try one more time to breathe. But that’s impossible I hear you say!

Well for someone with a severe case of COPD that’s exactly what it is like all the time. This is why they eventually put you on a short 21 day tapering burst of Prednisone. For this is one drug that is very effective and opens the airways more so you can finally breathe easier for a short while at least and it gets you over the hump if you will. A tapering dose usually consists of seven days each time of a differing strength level, and tapering down to the lowest edge in seven day increments. Believe me the difference is like night and day, take my word for it.

Armed with all that you have read so far, I want you to imagine the pure relief of that first breath with Prednisone.

Close your eyes, now allow your mind to create an image in your head; think if you like of an hour glass/ egg timer, the kind with the sand that runs down through it. Or if you prefer, think of your body as the hour glass your air intake being your mouth and nose will provide the air that you really are so hungry to taste because it has been too long.
Think of your throat that is the pathway to your airway and into your lungs; the key vessel just waiting to receive all this life giving elixir.

Now are you ready? Gently and slowly just start to draw that air into the funnel towards your throat, can you feel it? Allow it to caress its way down the walls of your windpipe towards the lungs. Slowly now! Don’t rush it, feel how it washes its way down into the airway, remember that feeling for it is so beautiful right now. Finally, nice and easily, take it gently into your lungs and feel it brushing around the walls of the vessel; carrying the life’s blood oxygen to the alveoli ready to be transferred into the blood.

Gently now start to exhale the residue carbon monoxide, up and away to the exit way back into the outside air, so as to replenish once again for another round trip. Do you remember what all that felt like? Did you savor it like you would a glass of good brandy?

Remember your gift that you take so much for granted, remember your experience with your first breathe of Prednisone fresh air, and don’t ever forget that.

Breathe Easy and breathe deep!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


For a change I had made supper, a large pot of chili. It turned out really good, and we were on our second helping. That’s what took me back to the days when there was hardly food, let alone seconds. My mind drifted lazily; I remember thinking of just how lucky I am, when the wife said “your food is getting cold, what are you thinking about?”

I was thinking of when I was a young child at a time when food was far from plentiful. I grew up in England prior to and through the 2nd World War years. I remember as a child of four, my mother with three kids and no father, for he had died in an accident when I was two. Times were very hard in those pre-war days and poverty was rampant everywhere.

Looking back now I often wonder how my mother ever managed the miracles she was able to do, in order to feed and raise us the way she did. Many times I can remember meals that consisted of a pot of homemade broth with ‘suet dumplings,’ and a thick slice of homemade bread, no butter or margarine. If we were really lucky, mom might have dug up a small tin of Tate & Lyle Golden syrup to put on the dumplings and that was the meal.

A snack for recess at school consisted most times of cold toast carefully wrapped in wax paper, there was no such thing as stretch n seal way back then. Times were so bad, there was no money for chocolate or candies.
My grandmother down the street would sometimes make homemade black treacle toffee for the kids in the neighborhood. She used to make it in a roasting tin, then when it was ready and cooled down Grandma would break it all up into pieces, then came the familiar yell to us all. That was always a real treat and a fight to see who could run there first and grab the biggest piece.

A short while later when the war had started, there came the evacuations of kids & families, also food and just about everything you could think of, became rationed. Every family had a ‘Gas Mask‘, an Identity card and a ‘Ration-book’ issued for each member of the family; the book contained coupons for almost everything basic that a person would need in order to survive. Believe me, it was totally inadequate and impossible to make ends meet at times, but at least you had some entitlements to work with. Once again mother had her work cut out, spinning all kinds of magic in order to be able to present edible meals.

Those were very bad days with poor nutrition among most all kids. This would often result in some ailment or another. I developed what they called ‘Rickets’ and was effected with very weak ankles. To be treated for that, I and lots of other kids with the same problem had to attend a clinic; there we had to strip right off down to the naughty nothings and don these very dark goggles to protect our eyes. Then we had to go into this room and walk around for what seemed like an hour, bathed in ultra-violet lighting. This room had a funny odor to it and felt reasonably warm, like being outside on a hot summers day. In addition, we also got extra concentrated orange juice and some containers of cod-liver oil and malt. Most of the kids hated that stuff, funnily enough I quite liked it.

Everything in those days seemed to come in packages. Dried egg powder instead of real eggs, something I didn’t mind if I remember correctly. You would mix it with water or a little dried milk powder then cook it like you would an omelet today. Most all things came as dried or in concentrated form, such as orange juice. Milk came dried in small packages, the only fresh milk was given to us at school each day and that was half a pint. Shortening and margarine was measured out in approx a teaspoon amount per person per day. Sugar and real eggs were also rationed along with whatever you might need to even make bread. There were even coupons for candies or sweets as they are called in the U.K. Mom used to trade off the candy coupons so she could get sugar instead, at least with the sugar she could make other things, like jam for instance. Clothing and boots or shoes were almost non existent for a lot of years with the war going on.

Later on when I was 10 years old, mom had now remarried, we had also acquired 17 chickens in the backyard. Even they had to be registered so that we could go buy corn feed for the chickens. Any eggs that were laid each day had to be turned over to the authorities as part of the war effort, it was the law, rarely did we get to keep an egg. Once in a while that did happen and it was a celebration just to have a fried or boiled egg. One time I remember we had one of the chickens killed off and that provided a feast I can tell you, of course that only happened that one time. We had no garden to grow any food, so mom and my step-dad had to go rent a small allotment (piece of garden) from some place just to try and grow a few things to supplement our food supplies and diet. Hard days those, very hard days; later as the war drew to an end and the rationing was eased a bit; then there was room to celebrate and of course a few of the chickens bit the dust!.

There were many, many stories came out of those times and not all had happy endings, you grew up in a hurry.
I will always remember England’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Even as a child I had a lot of trust in that man. He steered England through those bad times and the war.

I sat there relating this to Elizabeth and she was so interested in my story. For not having experienced those times I reckon, it must have sounded to her like something from a fairytale and wondering just when the wicked Witch of the North would show up!

I sat and wondered, dare I even consider another bowl of chili!

Teas up! C’ya

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Friend or Foe

We spend a lot of time watching and seeing to the wild birds the wife and I. We make sure there is always food out, especially this time of the year for winter can be cruel.. Something happened this morning that kind of made me think a little. Not that this is the first time I have had this cross my mind, on the contrary; all the same even knowing it is only natures way, I still felt violated for the birds. Late last summer we lost a Dove to a bird of prey.

Last winter we had a Northern Goshawk, swoop in and grab an unsuspecting Junco. That was not a good day, for he stood guard over his kill a couple of hours before eventually going down and making his meal from the spoils. Meanwhile all the other birds were as frozen in time, hiding in the hedges. A safe haven where the hawk couldn’t quite reach them, but gone nevertheless until the hawk was finished and departed This hawk was the male and all the time the female hawk sat in a nearby tree watching, waiting, she was twice the size of the other bird, absolutely huge. This incident brought to mind the small mystery from last summer that we hadn't had an answer for till now. The case of the missing dove. That was conspicuous then because now we only had five instead of six. Oh the lonesme times that dove went through. Later he adopted some goldfinches and made himself at home.

The winter this year has been a little less than weird, with the first snow in this area not arriving until part way into January. I think that would explain why the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Nuthatches and even the Woodpeckers have not been seen as prominently as they usually are.

This morning the weather was pretty cold at -24c wind-chill, everywhere snow covered but frozen hard. The Sun showed his face and our assortment of birds were frolicking and singing in the hedge as always. Suddenly without warning to me at least, this Northern Goshawk came swooping in very low, about fence high trying to snatch up the smaller finches and chickadee’s. I just happened to be looking out the window at the time bird watching.

They must have sensed him, because they went right down into that hedge so fast, before you could blink where it is safer. The hawk, angry I would reckon at missing out, made a few more runs and swoops up and down the area.

Once, even trying to trick the birds into thinking he had gone away by flying up the road. Then next minute, swooping in right close and very low again in a final attempt, trying to get into the hedge but he‘s too big. This time he went away empty-handed; of course we won’t see the birds out there now for a few days as they will stay out of sight for awhile.

So at times I wonder if we are doing the birds any favors by feeding them the way we do, enticing them to stay. We’ve been doing this now for two or three years, the birds I’m sure know we will provide for them. Or is it better just to let them go on their way at seasons end and wait until the next year. Such a pity really, for they give such enjoyment to us year round.

This morning it is still bitter cold out there and the sun is shining, no sign though of a single bird. And who can blame them? Survival of the smartest I call it.

Well! What can I say, just to prove me wrong a number of the birds just showed up, very carefully and close to cover of course but all the same. On parade we have the house sparrows, goldfinches, chickadees and even the woodpecker! So much for all I know! Nature knows best. Where’s my tea/ C’ya

Saturday, February 3, 2007

‘ Water, Water.’

A number of years ago before the wife and I first got together she had lived in the countryside area on a lake. Well there is nothing unusual about that you might say, but oh to be a Gypsy Rosa Lea at that point. What a light it might have shed! Of the things yet to come.
I now think she brought the lake with her.

I am an Aquarius the water bearer; that now ~ seems such a fitting and ironic twist, a suitable finale to the saga of my life. For now, since the wife and I have been together all the pieces have finally fallen into place, she’s related to a mermaid!
When I first brought her here for good, the air was electric and excitement reigned supreme. Then as all women will, she gradually started to add the ‘ Woman’s touch’ to the place, which was ok and expected.

Up to the point of me being no longer single; I had always kept a pretty good place, done the way guys do and kept it clean n tidy. I always liked to cook and housekeep, so it felt a little strange when the wife took over most of those things. Of course she wanted to impress me for she is a very good cook; in fact she wouldn’t let me do very much of anything at first, wanting to give me a break.

My first clue should have registered when I went into the kitchen one time, and I got wet feet! Being so happy, I never really noticed, accidents can happen to the best right? Hmmm

Whenever I am waiting for the kettle to boil, being short of breath a lot as I am, I usually bend over and lean on the counter with my forearms. Clue # 2.
I stood up and reaching for the dish clothe noticed water on most of the counter-top, I thought Wow! Myself I was always a neat freak and that would not have happened, oh well. There were other phobia’s too, like for instance I have never had so much toilet paper in the house at one time before, almost enough to open our own store!

So now after a number of years I have become used to this strange phenomena and am always aware! Of course sometimes I get a wet ass as even there she gets water all over the place, blow drying her hair over the toilet. How can I get upset over such a thing, all the same, she always washes her hands in cold water too! But that’s another story.

Earlier tonight the wife had decided to go shave her legs and then have a bath. (one of her favorite pastimes I might add.) Suddenly there rang out one of her patented oops! Something that is just short of a shriek or squeal. Then dead silence as the sounds, in the bathroom came to a halt.

I was sat at the computer doing some writing when all this happened; so I didn’t really hear what had taken place. Next moment the wife clad in nothing but a shirt and panties appeared at my side, one leg half shaved and the other still coated in a now fast hardening shaving cream.
Apparently being the very considerate gal she is; she had shut off the water in the tub, all because the lady in the upstairs apartment had decided to take a shower. The wife and the lady upstairs are pretty good friends, so are quite considerate of each other at times like that.

You see in this building, if you are in the shower and someone else turns their hot water on, then the water is effected in nearby apartments, so in a case like this ours turns ice cold! She sat there looking at me with those eyes that demand attention, waiting for me to speak. She does that on occasion and at the times when I am engrossed but, she is at a loose end like now!

She grinned at me and said something about the condition she was in because of the shaving cream. Condition? I called it a predicament seeing as the cream is hardening! So then came my loving words; don‘t worry honey, you are someone’s dream somewhere! That’s when she clobbered me! You just can’t win some days.

We do this fun bantering sometimes and it can get a little silly. You just have to laugh, for it’s difficult sometimes to keep a straight face and be serious without breaking right up. All in good fun.
She, sitting in front of her computer, had responded in the only way she could without uttering too much. Changing the screen saver to text, it read:

Every day a coconut!


Now I’m all washed up! C’ya

Friday, February 2, 2007

A Whale of a Day

I had to go to the doctors yesterday afternoon, it was just another one of those things that has be taken care of. The outcome of which was to be sent downstairs to get some chest x rays. ~ That’s when the fun began.

A lot of you know that I have COPD and my biggest enemy is being short of breath (sob). You can well imagine the state I was in by the time I arrived downstairs (In the elevator) huffing and puffing. I almost left the x rays till another time, because the weather here right now being so unstable.
So in I rolled in with my walker and oxygen bottle at the ready, and my face attached to it all with the tube!
I knew I would not be able to handle all this undressing and dressing that they subject you to. So I do dress accordingly, with easy access things that way I don’t have to do zippers n buttons n stuff.

So as I went in I announced ‘I am only removing my top’ for I knew it would be easy for them anyway. No arguments there, they were very accommodating, I proceeded to get ready with the help of the wife. The radiologist was new to me, not the regular one that usually deals with me; this one was an attractive young woman probably around 21 yrs old. A real mod go-getter complete with a harpoon stuck through her nose!
I thought Blimey! Things are changing round here.

All went reasonably well for the first set of pictures, then “Turn to the left, hands above the head!” It almost felt like an Army inspection again from the old days. She took a second set of frames and I asked if I needed to wait. “Yes,” she said. So I just leaned, bent over on my walker. “Sit down,“ said she, for my walker does have a seat. I will be ok I replied. She said, “Are you sure? You won’t go down on me will you!!?” Bite your tongue Eric. I thought, oh the temptation to reply. (I knew what she really meant) No, I will be alright I said, again as she heads for the door, (one last time) “Are you sure you won’t go down on me?” Grrrrrrrr my naughty mind wants to take over with a fitting but humorous response. I could hardly contain myself, then she disappeared out of site. ~

I told Elizabeth what had transpired, after we were alone, she cracked right up all the way home. ~
~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

We went downtown this afternoon, it’s that time of the year again sticker time for the truck and of course this year, a license re-newel for yours truly.
It had occurred to me that there may be a small line up after being closed for lunch so we arrived 10 minutes later from opening. So just like the above entry, I roll up literally with the wife, my walker and my oxygen. My new fashion accessories. :- ))

Well you know, normally people in general are pretty good when they see me and my snort bottle go by. You will always get the odd one who looks curious but all in all people are ok. NOT when you are in a drivers licensing office, lining up!
It was almost like a live cartoon. You can just visualize all these folks looking at me, thinking “and he’s literally on life support” for I’m at the counter by now, and the thought bubbles above their heads, I can imagine the remarks!

With a smirk on my face I head for the door, license in hand, the walker which assists me to shuffle along, and the oxygen tube still attached to my mug. ~

Did I tell you? I also wear glasses! ~

Supper’s up! C’ya.