Friday, March 9, 2018

March 9, 2018

It's already March - and almost my birthday. Scary to think how old I am getting but I am also much healthier than I have been for the past few months ago.

I had a bit of a sinus set-back during the winter - more post nasal drip and coughing. Turns out I had fungus in my other sinus My sinus doc vacuumed it clean and put in some meds. After taking various mucus thinning and trying drugs that didn't seem to help, I started a daily saline lavage which has made the biggest difference. I still cough up nasty phlegm - but not that much. My peak flows vary depending on how phlegmy I am but some are pretty much at the top of my range.

Good news on the dental front - My dentist  put a temporary crown on my faulty 3-6 molar last week and it seems to be working. He thinks that I don't need a root canal because I have already done one myself - filling up the root with calcium. If this temporary cap lasts for a couple of years he may even put a proper crown on it. It the meantime, I am off to the periodontis next week for the next step in getting implants in my upper right (2-4 and 2-5).  The final crowns will come next September - more than a year since I started this. Getting the temporary cap really lifted my spirits and made me think I could get back to my old normal. Nothing like the feel of a mouth (nearly) full of teeth,

Eyesight - not great. Could not read the handheld compass today. Could barely focus on the compass part and absolutely could not ocus on the distant object I was trying to take a bearing on. We were trying to swing our new ship's compass and I could not do my part. It made me very mad. I am supposed to be getting my cataracts fixed in May but in the meantime my eyesight gets worse and worse every day. Why do I have to wait?

It is odd when you are older. People seem to think you don't care you are going blind or that you just want any old thing any old time to improve your eyesight. You get beaten down and start thinking you are the problem and should put up with all the inconveniencest like a "brave little soldier." No-one is born old and, believe me, the problems that happen to your body when you get older are what make you old. It's very frustrating.

But I am hopeful. Hopeful enough that Mike and I have put down some money on a trip around Mexico next winter and we are going to Crystal Cove next week - whether I can see, chew or breath - or not. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve 2017

Today is the last day of 2017. All in all the year turned out pretty well - whenever there was a "down," it wasn't long until an "up" followed.
  • My latest "up" is how well the Sporanox has worked for my asthma, sinuses and eustachian tubes. My peakflow is about 85-90%, my post nasal drip isn't too bad and I can hear fairly well.  No aches and pains. Lots of fibre means no constipation. Sporanox is magic for someone like me.
  • Spiriva is supposed to reduce the amount of Symbicort (corticosteroid) I need. Unfortunately it gave me nose bleeds and made me deaf so I stopped taking it a week ago. The "up" - I seem to be back to normal with lots of energy without Spiriva. Waiting to hear from asthma doc whether to try it again.
  • New "down" - teeth. #6 molar on the bottom left lost a gold cap. No problem? Yes problem - very decayed underneath. I now have a temporary filling and am waiting to have a root canal on Wednesday. But the dentist says there is so much decay that the root canal may not work. Even if it does work, he says it won't last long. Eventually this very useful tooth will have to come out. Oh no!
  • The technical problem - I'm missing 2  upper right molars (#5 and 6) so can't chew on the right side. With my lower left #6 compromised I can't chew on the left side. Chewing with front teeth is very inefficient as they are designed for biting not chewing. So I am now eating soft food or foods that are in small enough bits that I can swallow them unchewed: yogurt, banana, mashed veg, applesauce, eggs, salmon (thank goodness), soup, bread (without a crust and lots of butter), cottage cheese with ripe cantaloupe, pound cake with ice cream. 
  • Not chewing was hard at first because  - wanting not to overtax my newly renovated large intestine - I am a bit of a stickler for chewing my food thoroughly.  However, I guess I just have to trust my stomach and small intestine to do their digestive work and not get too hung up on chewing every bit perfectly. 
  • An "up" - Mike and I bought a mini-food processor so I can grind anything up very fine and don't need to miss out on eating anything - even steak and ham. Unfortunately  nothing seems to have much taste when it's ground up. I guess a lot of flavour is in the texture. 
  • The next "up" will have to be about what happens to my faulty tooth. If the root canal works, the dentist will make a temporary acrylic cap (not an expensive proper cap) which I will be able to use for a while - hopefully until my upper right implants are completed next fall and I can chew on that side again.
  • If it doesn't work or when it fails, I'll have to decide on whether to replace it with an implant or a bridge. My dentist favours a bridge which is three caps joined together in row - the middle one filling in for the missing tooth. I have had a bridge in the past and didn't like the way food got stuck underneath. Also, when one of the supporting teeth failed, the whole bridge failed - which is why I am lacking molars on my upper right. So I am leery of bridges.
  • I think I prefer an implant - but it takes at least a year to get one - extraction, bone graft, implant itself and finally a new crown. A long expensive process with no guarantees. But at least no food gets stuck under it. We are going to ask the dentist's periodontist son his view of what I should do. My guess he says implant.
  • I realize I am lucky that I still have the majority of my teeth. How do people in third world countries survive with only a few teeth? Is it an "up" to be grateful you don't have someone else's problems. I don't think so.
So happy new year and may your body survive its ups and downs another 365 days! 

Friday, December 15, 2017


Unfortunately the increased pulmicort which I mentioned in my last post did not stop the phlegm.  I started feeling really sore all over and felt really tired. I still had lots of postnasal drip. Last week I saw both my asthma doc and my sinus doc.

Asthma- My pulmonary function test indicated I was at 74% - not terrible but not good. My asthma doctor recommended sporanox but said it was up to me when I started. He also started me on a new spiriva dispenser.

Sinus - When my sinus doc looked into my upper left sinus with his scope he found fungus. Lots of it. I had my eyes shut so didn't see it on the monitor but Mike said there was plenty. My doc did the usual wash out - shooting "water"  up into my sinus to loosen and dislodge it. What a mess! It hurt a lot but was worth it. At the end he said I must start taking sporanox.

So the next day I started daily sporanox. I was so afraid of constipation that I added 3 scoops of metamucil to my daily routine. It worked! Yippee! No constipation!

I have now been on sporanox for a week. Things are definitely improved but I am not completely better - still phlegmy and some coughing but no more awful body aches and headaches.   My peak flows are in the 90% range so this is very good. Most days I have more energy than before - though one day I was so tired I actually cried with exhaustion at dinner. Sporanox can make you seriously depressed and it can cause congestive heart failure which makes you feel really tired. I don't think those were my problems but I sure was tired and lacking normal resilience.

So - Severe Asthma is not only about the symptoms but also about the side effects of the drugs you need to keep on breathing.

I'm carrying on and hoping all my symptoms really go away.

(PS Our pup is turning out to be a great little dog. I now have the energy to do training with him and he is learning to sit, sit-stay, down, roll-over, touch, watch me and walk pretty well on a loose leash - not yet a heal. He also comes to his name. We'll see how well this holds up at puppy kindergarten tomorrow.)


Monday, November 20, 2017

2 months after surgery

About 6 weeks after my surgery I asked my sinus doc if I could start my sporanox again as I was a bit phlegmy.  He said to try it - but after a couple of days I got pretty constipated so I stopped. I was eating more fibre and gradually got  back to normal. Then a few days later I went for my routine 6 month Prolia shot (for osteoporosis ). Previously nothing bad had happened but this time  I had a bad reaction - really severe back, leg and arm pain and constipation.  It took a couple of weeks to clear up.  Meanwhile my left foot swoll up and I couldn't go on a decent walk. I guess I had overdone it in shoes that were a bit too tight. I felt I was getting sicker instead of better. On top of that I had more and more phlegm and coughed a lot especially in the morning but also at night.

But there were also good things. A couple of weeks ago we bought our new puppy - Hunter. It is really challenging to raise an 8 week old puppy but it is never boring. Mike actually does most of the work because I got scratched and nipped and I could only go near him when I was wearing gloves.

Meanwhile I started touching up some of the paintings I had been staring at for weeks. This was very fun. Last weekend I was part of a really great art show in Ladysmith.  Mike is still amazed that I actually pulled it off but it is mainly because he helped me in every way.

Today I went to see my sinus doc at St Paul's in Vancouver.  She found a lot of mucous in my sinuses. It is being caused by my reaction to fungus and would likely clear up with sporanox.  In the past this nasal phlegm  has eventually led to an asthma exacerbation.   However she said not to take sporanox until 3 months after my surgery since the constipation problem would be worse than the phlegm problem. Instead I will double up my pulmicort nasal drops and hope for the best. This was Hunter's first ferry trip and I think we all did really well - except the salmon burger was really too much and gave me gas. I still need to watch what I eat.

I will go to see my asthma doc in a couple of weeks to see what ideas he has. Since this is supposed to be an asthma blog what I am trying to say is that having a chronic disease like asthma makes if more difficult to deal with the other health problems that arise day by day. Hopefully  we will find a good balance - so my bowels will be good and my asthma will be  good.

In the meantime the Asthma Canada committee I am on has come up with a really good little video on biologics and I think I actually contributed to the final product.

I also think I am one of the luckiest people I know and I am having a very good life. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Drug Side Effects

It is now almost 2 months since my surgery and I am doing quite well. My only issues have been with drug side effects.

My first problem was with sporanox which I take to stop my allergy like reactions to fungus which exacerbates my asthma and sinus disease. It has worked very well and I felt virtually symptom free for many months - except that I had problematic interactions with warfarin and a potent anti-inflammatoryI took for my oral surgery,  I stopped taking it when I had my surgery but started again after 6 weeks. After taking sporanox for a couple of days I found that I had become quite constipated. This was scarey given my modified large intestine. I emailed my sinus doc and he agreed I should stop taking it for a while. However I am coughing a lot and getting quite phlegmy - which may be because I have lost the protection of sporanox against fungus. Hopefully there is another antifungal which doesn't cause constipation. I will see his fellow next week and try to decide what to do.

My second problem was with prolia which I take to prevent fractures caused by osteoporosis. I take it by injection every 6 months. The first time I took it I didn't have any reaction except a bit of a feeling of being "down" for a couple of days. I took it last week and had a really bad pain reaction - my back in particular was so painful I couldn't believe it and so were my my joints and muscles. It was awful for one day and then the pain gradually wore off. The other problem with prolia was constipation -again. I upped my metamucil and started to eat bran buds. After about a week I got back to normal - what a relief!

I haven't been to see any medical person about these issues - I hope I can fix them myself. I am hoping that if I continue to up my fibre intake from food I will be able to drop back on metamucil to one dose per day and get back to healthy bowel habits. I do have to see my GP before I get my next prolia in 6 months - so I will definitely tell him how nasty it was.

Oh yes - our lovely new puppy nipped me and cut me with his sharp little claws. My skin is so thin that I had to tape myself up and glue myself together. Moderately painful. I solved this with sports gloves and disposable nitrile gloves which I use for painting. Why is my skin so thin? Prednisone may be part of the reason.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cancer gone

Yesterday we went to see my surgeon. He said just what my GP had said "Well my dear you had cancer but now it is completely gone." Gone ! I am so lucky and the BC health care system worked so well for me. It started with my sinus doc's fellow listening to my concerns about a year ago that there was something going on because my feet were swollen. A test revealed a DVT. That led to warfarin and strangely pink poops. Eventually I asked for and got a fit test because I knew that wasn't normal. There was blood in the test so eventually I got a colonoscopy.  After that things moved fast - a ct scan, bowel surgery, a bit of a set back requiring a naso-gastric pump for 5 days. Pain and pain medicine 10 times stronger than morphine. Finally a fart  and a poop - all systems started to work. No more pain. Then some food! Now I am pronounced cured. It all seems almost like a bad dream.  I am still a bit weak and tire much more easily than normal. I still need to eat fairly low fibre food. But I can push myself and get back to my old life. It is an amazing reprieve and I need to make sure I use this gift if time wisely.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Day 18

Today is Day 18 if you include day if surgery as Day 1. I seem to have fallen into a pattern. Get up around 8. Eat breakfast of fried egg, ham, toast, fruit and coffee. Coffee gets bowels moving. Yippee. Read news etc. Go for a good walk - about 4000 steps some uphill. Read for a bit. Drink juice and ginger ale. Eat lunch with protein (fish), toast, fruit. Read again. Until today I fell asleep for an hour or so. Take another good walk. Have a snack.  Read book or news and maybe send emails.  Dinner with lots if protein and Mike's vegetable medley and avocado. Read some more or just lie down on couch for a rest. Then watch a bit if T.V. At about 10:30 get ready for bed. Drink Metamucil.  Take my sleeping pill with pound cake - otherwise it seems to stick in my throat which is still a bit sore from ng. Sleep nicely.  Start again. Mike is being great.  I'm not being very productive but doing my best to get back to health. One bit of progress is cutting back sleeping pill a bit. No sporanox.  As much food and drink as I can manage.