How things change!

So! Been a while….so much has ‘gone wrong’ for me I can’t tell you! Well, actually, I’m going to anyway lol

I have been an asthma sufferer all my life, it is a ‘family’ thing, many cousins afflicted too, with varying degrees of seriousness, one losing his life at 14 to it…my son, his son, my brother, my Mother…we all have had good and bad experiences with it, but got on with life in spite of it!

Now it has stepped up a gear, and COPD has reared it’s ugly head 😦

Initially I just thought it was a bad patch, or maybe hayfever related or something, it being summer (last year). But it took a nasty turn in September/October last year. Some days, just getting out of bed and stumbling to the bathroom, a matter of 7/8 feet, left me gasping for breath….not like my asthma, but more like being winded, punched in the gut type of gasping. My inhaler didn’t relieve it, but sitting still did….until I moved again…even if it was just to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, 4 ft from my chair.

Other days I was fine, not a hint of a wheeze or a gasp….very weird, but warranted a trip to the docs I thought.

Firstly it was assumed to be a chest infection as, apparently, my lungs were crackly, so was given antibiotics. 2 weeks later I was back there, really struggling this time, so more antibiotics plus steroids and sent for a chest x-ray. I was also struggling with the physicality of my job, and had to take some days off when I really couldn’t function.

The x-ray came back clear, not even an infection! Hmmm, said doc, looks like it could be lung function then…COPD had been mentioned 4 years ago after a bout of pneumonia, but I hadn’t really given it much thought since then, as I’d recovered quickly and had been OK since….but now he was telling me it had got me in it’s grip, and was unlikely to just lurk anymore, but come forward to make life difficult for me.

What a quandary! The job I did was quite physical, doing a lot of walking, swimming and sometimes lifting/supporting children almost the same size as me. I had already been struggling a bit, but had managed, on the whole, to hide it until I could get to a point of rest…stopping to look at a view/animal/people…..hanging onto the side of the pool to watch them practice kicking/floating……sitting down to have a drink/snack…no end of strategies became the norm to hide that I was in some distress. For heavens sake, I was looking after special needs/disabled kids…if they could manage, then so could I…..couldn’t I? And in my head, I felt fine, and thought I was fairly fit.

Then he said the words that hurt me more than anything….you cannot possibly continue to do the job you are doing, this isn’t going away, and the work you do will accelerate the effects, you need to see a specialist, and I’m going to sign you off! Also it is compromising your arthritic spine/shoulders because of your stance/position when struggling with breathing. (the osteo-arthritis is a whole other story,the initial cause being an accident at 13 that compacted my spine…Hey Ho!)

NOOOOOOOOO! I LOVED what I did, I adored the children I worked with, he couldn’t do this to me!

After a bit of an argument, he agreed to hold off for a while, because I couldn’t just not turn up anymore….I had to give the parents, the Headteacher, some sort of notice that this was going to happen, so that they could find a replacement TA/PA…it wasn’t fair to them, or the children, to just walk away and leave them hanging.

So, with heavy heart, I gave them all notice that I would be unable to continue in their employ after the Christmas holidays, 6 weeks, to give them time to find someone else. I admit I was sparing with the truth, as I didn’t want sympathy…I was cross with the world, and particularly my lungs, but didn’t want to go down the ‘poor me’ route. As far as school was concerned, I was ‘retiring’, only a couple of close friends there, and the Head, knew the real reason. With the parents I PA’d for, I obviously had to give a bit more info, but was still sparing….my problems were nothing compared to their childrens, I felt like such a fraud if truth be told, even though I wasn’t., as outwardly I looked fine!

So here I am, an unemployed, frustrated, ticked off 56 year old, who feels and looks fine unless I do something like change the bed, walk up a slight hill, try to walk faster than a ‘wander’ pace (think mooching round the shops, snail pace), go out in windy, cold or damp weather, take the wheely bin from the back of the flat to the verge (about 20 yards), try to cut the grass (hour and a half, in 6 stages, to do the front lawn, about 13ft by 12ft), carry a bag of shopping from the car to the front door, sometimes just turn over in bed and wriggle to get comfy!

I am seeing the specialist at the respiratory clinic on Wednesday…I’m hoping there is something he can give me, different meds/inhalers or something, that will will help me get back to work of some sort…I’m not ready to ‘retire’ yet…I like to be busy. I accept that I will have to find something different, a sit-down/quiet, non-physical job, but I want to do what I can, if I can, for as long as I can.

Got everything crossed!



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