Mobi Babble – 29th October 2017
It’s been well over a month since my last blog, and I have to say it’s been rather a turbulent few weeks.
Family Visa Applications finally lodged
I’ll begin with the good news. After a long six months of waiting and ‘processing’, the settlement visa applications for my wife and daughter were finally submitted to UK immigration last Wednesday, 25th.
After traveling to Bangkok from Nong Khai a couple of weeks ago to obtain their TB-clearance medical certificates, they had to return there, via Pattaya last Wednesday to personally hand in the visa applications, at which time they were photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed.
I had already paid all the extortionate non-refundable visa fees online, but there was still one last overpriced fee to pay – some £150 – to scan all the documents and send them to an immigration processing office in Sheffield.
It’s all in the hands of the Home Office civil servants and we now sit back and wait. The estimated processing time is 60 days, but there are no guarantees.
A Mobi-motor at long last.
Another piece of, I suppose, good news is that I have finally taken the plunge and bought myself a little car to get about in. With winter fast approaching and my physical health slowly deteriorating, a car had become more or less a necessity.
So I spent 10 days in Birmingham with my eldest daughter and her partner and they kindly took me around the myriad car dealers that abound in that good city. I ended up buying an 11-year old Peugeot 107, with only 42k miles on the clock and in immaculate condition. Hopefully, it will do me for a year or so.
Now the bad news – as I inferred above, I am still having quite a few problems with my health, although at the time of writing I am hopeful that I am slowly getting them on a more even keel.
Medical affairs of the heart
It all started with my angiogram at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester which revealed that despite my ongoing high blood pressure, my replacement heart valve and continual shortness of breath, there is nothing wrong with my arteries and no stents were required.
I then went for a follow-up consultation with Prof. someone or other (the first time I had actually seen the main man) who suggested my shortness of breath and tight chest may be due to the meds I was taking for my hypertension.
He suggested some changes, which included weaning me off a beta-blocker I had been taking for over 30 years and adding some other stuff to compensate. His theory was that the beta-blocker was stopping my heart from beating fast enough to provide sufficient oxygen to my lungs – hence the breathing problems.
Sounded good, and my GP went along with it.
Trouble is – no one had told him that, “If ain’t broke don’t tinker with it”. When I first came back to the UK last May, the GP said as much to me when I told him about all the medications I was taking.
Medical Affairs of the lungs
Meanwhile, back at the Mobi-body, while all this sea change of meds was taking place, I had an appointment at a lung clinic to do some breathing tests. Two hours later – to my shock and horror – I was informed that I had acquired severe COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – lung disease to the uninitiated.
My breathing problems had nothing to do with my heart and everything to do with permanent lung damage, which must have been caused by heavy smoking which I quit over 35 years ago. I was already on one inhaler which the GP had given me to try and relieve my chest and breathing problems, and the clinic added another one, telling me the disease was incurable and I would live with it for the rest of my life.
For some strange reason, although I had previously experienced a few distressing breathing episodes in Thailand, and several on my flight to the UK, the disease has suddenly become much worse, and now even 10 minutes slow walk was enough to bring me breathless, wheezing badly and devoid of energy.
Although the two inhalers were helping during the day, I started to suffer at night. Within days I could hardly sleep as I couldn’t breathe properly. Back to the doc who put me on a short, intensive course of steroids, which finally did the trick and allowed me to get a halfway decent night’s sleep.
Back to the heart
Meanwhile, back at my Mobi-body, the changes with my heart meds were starting to wreak havoc. My BP was swinging wildly from high to very low, my heart rate was in the high 80s (from the mid-50s where it used to be) and every time I stood up I nearly passed out.
Things continued to get worse and about a week ago my heart went into overdrive, running at 120-140 pm when at rest and palpitating quite badly.
I managed to get an appointment with an emergency GP, who I had never seen before, and I told him the whole story and showed him my records of my BP and pulse rate.
“Hm… it would have been much better if they hadn’t messed with your meds – clearly they were working for you, so why change them?” he asked rhetorically.
I explained that they had thought the meds might have been connected with my breathing problems.
“But now we know different,” he said.
I smiled and nodded.
“And if you’ve been taking these meds for over 30 years and had no side effects, why should they start now?”
So we decided to reinstate the beta blocker and stop some of the newly prescribed meds and for me to keep an ‘eye on it’.
This all happened 4 days ago, so it is early days, but so far so good. My heart rate is down to the 60s per minute and my blood pressure is becoming more stable. I still get some dizzy spells when standing, but generally, it is much better than before. Thank God, I seem to be getting on top of it now.
Sound, sweet sound!
Meanwhile, back at my Mobi-body, while all this was going on I took the train to Leicester last Thursday to attend a hearing clinic. This was my second session, as I had previously been diagnosed as having moderate to severe hearing problems in both ears.
I was only there for a couple of hours and came out as the proud owner of two hearing aids, (one for each ear), which are very discreet and can barely be seen from the front.
So now I am bombarded by noises that I hadn’t been hearing properly in years – particularly high frequencies. While I was waiting for the bus outside the hospital, an ambulance came out with its siren blaring and I almost collapsed from the high pitched sound.
It’s now day three and my brain is slowly adapting. I can actually hear what is being said on TV without having to resort to subtitles. It’s pretty wonderful.
Some friendly Mobi-warnings
A few salutary lessons from my recent medical experiences:
- Just because you drink to excess and are continuing to enjoy good health, don’t kid yourself you will last that way forever. Undoubtedly, many of my medical problems are the cumulative effects of booze. Even though I haven’t touched a drop for nearly 7 years, I stopped far too late to undo a lot of the damage that alcohol had wreaked on my aging body.
So there you have it – a Mobi-warning number 1.
- If you are a smoker – beware of the permanent damage it can do to your lungs, to say nothing of the high risk of developing lung cancer. I was a very heavy smoker from my mid-teens until the age of 37 – some 20 years plus.
For many of those years I was a 4-pack a day man, and towards the end, I frequently suffered from bronchial related problems. Yet as soon as I quit, my lungs cleared and I never had any problems with my chest until I was in my late 60s.
The docs tell me the damage was done all those years ago, but it didn’t manifest itself until I was approaching old age.
So there you have it – Mobi-warning number 2.
- Loud noise can permanently damage your ears – obvious really, isn’t it? I put my current hearing problems down to the years back in the late 70s – early 80s when I was promoting pop/rock concerts in Bangkok.
There was nothing I liked better than to stand near the speaker stacks when the groups were doing sound checks – to say nothing of the concerts themselves when I would invariably be somewhere near the front while the artists blew my mind away with their unbelievably loud music.
Don’t think it won’t happen to you – as it probably will, and it’s no fun not being able to hear what people are saying, and not a lot of fun having to wear hearing aids.
So there you have it – Mobi-warning number 3.
So it’s onwards and upwards…I’m 71, and in spite of all my setbacks, I’m still in there fighting… just…
This blog’s illustrations
As a change from posting pics of my time in England, (there’s still plenty more to come), I have decided to devote this blog to showing pics of my lovely wife and family and what they have been up to during my absence.
As you can see, they have certainly been active and participating wholeheartedly in the everyday life of the wonderful Issan folk of North East Thailand.
It’ll be quite a culture shift when they move to Oakham…