Sunday, 30 August 2020

Sunday 30th August - Missions Accomplished This Week

 It's getting on for 5pm now. Today's mission was to persuade myself to take some exercise, and the accomplishment was to walk round the block. Ok - only 15 mins exercise, and only 870 metres travelled in that time, but there is quite a steep little gradient on the way which slows me down to what one person called 'grinder gear' - the lowest speed that a landrover can crawl in the very, very bottom gear..

So why all the measurements? I had a zoom appointment with the rheumatology clinic where they keep an eye on how my scleroderma is, or preferably isn't, progressing. It's hard to tell over a zoom conversation, especially when the video component wasn't working, and it is a new consultant. But as far as we all know, there is no change. So I'm happy about that. 

One of the tests I usually do at the clinic is the '6 minute walk' - if I had been at the hospital I would have walked up and down a measured length of corridor for 6 mins, dodging people walking or wheeling trolleys or hospitals beds as I go.  They compare the 'before' and 'after' blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels and make a note of how far I had managed to walk. I always manage to keep going for 6 minutes, unlike many other patients who can barely manage the length of the corridor before coming to a breathless halt. I do have a tendency to set off far too fast, so that I am gasping like a landed fish at the end. I have been able to replicate this test to some degree as I have a blood pressure machine and an oxygen level monitor of my own, and practice has shown that I can get from our house to number 13 in 6 minutes, and then, coming back, I start at number 7 which is a bit further along and keep going to just past our house. It is downhill on the way back, not so as YOU would notice, but even the slightest gradient makes a significant difference to me. Anyway, I'm currently managing about 370 metres in 6 minutes which is - okay. 

I've an appointment with the Interstitial Lung Disease clinic next week - they keep a watch over my lung function as that's where the scleroderma has done the most damage. Once again it will be a zoom appointment, and therefore without the 'breathing into a complicated machine in confusingly different ways' lung function tests and measurements. 'When you are ready, breathe out, then breathe in as fast as you can, hold your breath for fifteen seconds, breathe out for as long as you can, and then quickly breathe in all the way'..' it  is so easy to get yourself hopelessly confused and lose all coordination of your breathing muscles even though they talk you through it ...

Anyway, more regular exercise would definitely be a good plan. It's so easy to turn into a couch potato. 

Other missions? I've been deferring getting routine blood tests done for a couple of months, but last week I braced myself and went to the hospital all masked up and on the alert. I managed to get through the whole process without touching anything except the buttons on the car park machine - I was trying to use a tissue but the buttons needed proddling with a proper finger to make them work.

I found the experience ridiculously exhausting. I've been so careful for so long, that being indoors with strangers, and dealing with their unpredictable movements was quite a trial. Like the unmasked lady who wanted me to show her how to work the car park machine. 'If you stand back, over there, a bit further, I'll have a look and see if I can help' and then she comes and peers over my shoulder...

I also had to take a parcel to our sorting office - an on-line order return. I haven't been into a shop or an office or a bank since March...

I think I need to get out more!

Still, I think I will achieve that objective; I'm overdue for the dentist, the opticians and a hairdresser appointment, and the cats need to go to the vet for their checkups. What a lively time we shall be having...         

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