The Anonymous Widower

A Summary Of My Health

Doctors have always been puzzled about my health. In my early years, Dr. Egerton White struggled to find, what was wrong with the sickly child I was.

I used to miss one school term in three and it was probably the Spring Term, but as I’m relying on memory I could be wrong. I was always suffering from rhinitis, sore throats and often coughed for England. At one time, I was diagnosed with scarlet fever, but as I was the only case in London and no-one caught it from me I do wonder if it was a misdiagnosis.

Dr. White, at one point thought I had an egg allergy, but in the end I got the usual treatment of children in those days, they took my tonsils out.

Sadly, none of my medical records of those days exist, as they got lost somewhere between London, Felixstowe, where my parents had retired and Liverpool University.

But as my current doctor and I have agreed, whatever has bugged me over the years didn’t kill me as a child, so hopefully it is unlikely to kill me now!

Spending time at Felixstowe on the windy East Coast seemed to improve my health, but I still had lots of small problems like athlete’s foot, terrible dandruff, joint and foot pains and an overactive gut. I should also say that I suffering pain from my left arm, where the humerus had been broken by the school bully.

My mother’s health incidentally was generally good, but my father suffered from terrible rhinitis and catarrh, which wasn’t helped by his smoking of a pipe. His father had been similarly effected and found that the best way of coping was smoking and drink. Consequently, he died in his forties.

Moving to Liverpool for four years for university and work, seemed to dull my troubles and I can’t remember any new problems until a few years later, when I was living in a flat in London, when I started to get pains in my knee joints. One doctor recommended an operation, but luckily I decided to pass.

Things seem to get better in the mid-1970s, when my wife and I moved into an eleventh floor flat in the Barbican.

Generally, for the next thirty years or so, my health was pretty good, although my arm, where it had been broken, could be painful in hot weather. We had moved to Suffolk and generally spent a lot of time outdoors.

Then in the early years of this century, I was diagnosed as a coeliac by Addenbrookes and went gluten-free. My health changed for the better, with most of the joint pains and gut problems disappearing. But I still seemed to suffer from the odd bad Spring, although it got better, when my wife and I could afford to take luxurious winter holidays.

Then my life fell in, in that my wife of forty years died of a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart in 2007, followed by our youngest son, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.

My health got worse on the death of my wife, with hay-fever like symptoms at times.

I then had a serious stroke in Hong Kong, whilst on holiday. Luckily, they gave me the superduper clot-busting drug, and my brain is no worse than it ever was!

As I lay there for about three months with the sun streaming through the window, some of my old symptoms returned.  Rhinitis was pouring down my throat, like it hadn’t since the 1960s and my left humerus was giving me some of the worst pain ever.

Since then, I’ve sold up in Suffolk and moved to Hackney, so that I have access to public transport.

The rhinitis is often present, usually in the Spring, and my body feels very much as it did, when I was at school. I’ve also started to get conjunctivitis in my eyes

In one instance, I collapsed and was taken to hospital. They were puzzled, but did report that I had something like water on the lung.  A couple of days of oxygen and I was able to come home.

This Spring, my small problems have been getting worse, with constant wind, itchy skin and especially eye-brows.  Then I was found to have a fungal infection in my toes for which Terbinafine was prescribed.

This reacts with my Warfarin, but as I test my INR daily on a meter, I’m able to keep it under control. I should be able to, as I have a Degree in Control Engineering.

One thing that seems to help cope with the muck pouring into my mouth and throat is fresh lemonade, as it scrapes the muck into my stomach. The odd glass of weak Scotch has a similar effect. At times though it all goes away and white wine tastes like white wine, rather than vinegar.

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Do We Put Our Heating On At The Right Time?

I have been puzzled, why after C died, I started to develop hay fever like symptoms. I blogged about it first here in April 2010, which was before I had the serious stroke.

I have just read this thoughtful article on the BBC entitled “Is It Too Early To Put The Central Heating On?”.

i asked someone who knew us well, and they said that the house was always very cold.

Now both C and myself, were brought up in cold houses, with perhaps hers a little bit warmer than mine because she was down in the valley at East Barnet and I was on top of the hill at Cockfosters.

When I met her, she had the worst chilblains I’ve ever seen. They disappeared fairly soon afterwards and she always put it down to wearing Scholl sandals.  She incidentally wore those virtually until the day she died. I suspect there was not one day in the forty years we were together she didn’t put a pair on.  She even drove in them. She always said, I should, as they would keep my feet warm.

But could the death of her chilblains be put down to her not living in her parents’ house any more? She was in a warm Hall of Residence in Liverpool and afterwards we lived generally in warmer housing, until we moved to Suffolk.

My house as a child was very cold and I was always having time off with a hat fever like runny nose. In fact one of my memories is my mother boiling up handkerchiefs on the gas stove for my father and I.  He suffered terrible catarrh and was always sucking on dreadful menthol sweets. I remember, he used to keep his garage very warm and I would often go there to talk to him and listen to football on the Light Programme. Did I go because it was warm?

But everything changed when my grandmother died, as my parents could now afford more electric fires and perhaps more importantly, I got the big sunny bedroom at the back of the house. I was also about twelve and could spend more time in the fresh air, when it wasn’t cold.

Over the years in Suffolk, C and I developed our own ways of living with cold weather.

She always wrapped up well, did a lot of exercise and I usually had a fan heater playing on my feet.

I did keep my car hotter than she did.  I seem to remember, she adjusted her Porsche to 22.5°C. I liked it warmer.

I can also remember staying in hotels in London several times when C complained very much about the high temperature.

When she died in 2007, I did a lot of things to warm the house up, like putting in extra radiators and buying the thickest duvet I could find. I have since bought a thinner one.

It does seem strange that my rhinitis started about that time.

So it does seem that temperature and humidity, has a lot of effect on my rhinitis.

One thing I’m going to do, is make sure my heating and ventilation is completely and precisely controllable.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | , | 2 Comments

Are There Indirect Consequences Of Bereavement Or Divorce?

Yesterday, I met someone, who has divorced after a fairly long marriage.  I’m not sure how long ago it was, but they did move house  in the last year.

I first noticed their nails and they appeared to be short and brittle just like mine below. They also had similar bumps to those I have on my index finger.

My Left Hand

My Left Hand

On questioning, they revealed that they lived in a south-facing flat, although it doesn’t have under-floor central heating, like my house.

So are they living in a hot, dry atmosphere, like I have for a lot of the time, since I moved into this house? There is only one way to find out and that is buy one of these.

Maplin Hygro-Thermometer

Maplin Hygro-Thermometer

I got mine from Maplin. Click here for details.

Since the begining of January, I’ve kept the temperature most of the time in the range of 19-21 °C, with the humidity as high as possible. Admittedly, it’s a bit hotter this morning, but then the sun is on and both the heating and air-conditioning are off.

The consequences for my gut have been dramatic. Ever since my stroke in 2010, my gut has been lively, which an expert neurologist said was strange, as if stroke sufferers have a problem it’s usually constipation. For a long time, I thought I’d been glutened in hospital.

Now I was married for forty years and my lunch companion had probably been married for a long time, although they had got divorced.  So the nails and the hands got me thinking.

Could it be, that when you are living with someone, you get into habits and a pattern of living? C and myself, were a couple, who did things together, but she was very definite in what she wanted. She always slept on the same side of the bed, kept the temperature of her car at a precise 22.5 °C and always liked to eat at particular times. She also was the first to complain, if the inside of a house or hotel room was too hot, and I would be told to do something about it.

I was happy to live at her temperature, but she always complained that my office or car was too hot.

After she died, I decided to warm the house up.  I changed radiators and also switched from blankets to duvets in a quest for more warmth.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do any before and after measurements, but it was about this time that my rhinitis or as I thought at the time, hay fever, started.

This rhinitis got very much worse after the stroke in Hong Kong.  My hospital room, had a big picture window and the sun streamed through.  Could it have been very hot and dry?

When I moved to this house, it was very hot and I started to feel unwell and even thought the house was trying to kill me.

I have now got air-conditioning and control the temperature and humidity as tight as I can. But all of this does illustrate the chain of events from C’s tragic death, that ruined my health.

There may also be other factors, that come in on either bereavement or divorce, or even just moving house.

I hate gas cookers with a passion, as I don’t like naked flames anywhere, but others won’t cook on anything else. C and I, were both very happy with an AGA.

I don’t like draughts either and generally keep the windows shut and go for a walk if I want fresh air. After a bereavement or divorce, you may have a tedency to shut yourself away, so perhaps acquiring a dog that needs to be walked is maybe a good idea. I haven’t gone for the dog, but I do walk quite a bit.

How many women after a divorce, go from a comfortable air-conditioned car to an affordable hatchback, as the settlement is not in their favour?

There are obviously other factors, and if anybody has any ideas, I’d be pleased to hear them.

But I always remember a story of a couple, who moved a mile or so from their new sealed house, with fitted carpets in the town centre, to a country cottage with stone floors and ill-fitting windows.  Their son’s asthma disappeared after the move.

So are there any scientific papers on the effects of temperature and humidity on health.

I found this paper from Harvard, entitled Hospital admissions for heart disease: the effects of temperature and humidity. Read the summary. It seems to indicate, that in their specific study, temperature was important, but humidity wasn’t.

My only advice would be to get yourself, one of Maplin’s meters, so that you know your preferred temperature and humidity.

May 12, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | 2 Comments

An Afternoon Of Rhinitis

Yesterday was fairly typical of what I go through.  My nose seems to run from the time I get up until I go to bed.

An Afternoon Of Rhinitis

An Afternoon Of Rhinitis

The picture shows all the tissues I got through in a couple of hours.

It used to be bad when I was a child,  I can remember my mother constantly boiling up handkerchiefs on the stove, both for myself and my father, who was similarly effected.

But it’s never been as bad as this.

It seems to have started when I was in hospital in Hong Kong, and it just seems to be getting worse and worse.

Could it be long term effects of the Warfarin?

April 15, 2013 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Three Images Sum Up The Cruise

As I got off the Oriana, three images sum up the cruise.

The first was a good one and it was the nameplate of my steward with a tip underneath.

Mary Did Well

Mary Did Well

Mary deserves all she receives and I hope she does well in the future.

The second image shows the litter bin containing some of the many tissues, that I used to stem my rhinitis and quite a few tea-bags, as I drank tea incessantly on the cruise.

Tissues And Tea Bags

Tissues And Tea Bags

The third image is only in my mind, but it consists of a queue of glum people wanting to get off the Oriana, as like me, the main thing they came for was a bit of sun, and the weather didn’t deliver.

If I go on a cruise again, I’ll go somewhere, where the weather is guaranteed to be better.

Perhaps though, P&O should pay me to stay away, as it seems I’m always the one, who gets the bad weather.

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rhinitis: A Tale Of Two Cities

It’s very strange bus over the last couple of days, my health has been very much a roller coaster. or should I say my rhinitis.

On Wednesday, it was particularly bad and I was getting through the usual small packet of paper hankies a day. I did have a swimming lesson and I suspect, I did give my nose a bit of a washout, but the running nose was very much the same as it normally is.

Thursday in Liverpool is was a bit better, but on Friday, despite it being a day, when God had decided, she would empty her bathwater, my tissue consumption was much reduced. We were also indoors for a lot of the day in a warm room.  But was it dry?

Yesterday, as I came down from Liverpool on the train, it was fine, except that I could taste the softer Liverpool water running into my throat.

Today, though it has been awful and I’ve got through over a small packet of tissues on my walk around London this morning.

So which is the dominant factor controlling the rhinitis?

I think, I can throw in here, one other useful piece of information.  I saw no improvement on my trips to Blackburn or Huddersfield.

As I do know that my health problems improved as a child, when we moved to Felixstowe and maintained the improvement at Liverpool University. So, perhaps being by the sea helped. After all, I sometimes notice, that when I go to the football at Ipswich, I do sometimes breathe better.

It could too have been the temperature and humidity in the hotel.  I set the temperature to the nineteen, I aim for at home.

One thing though, that the pain in my teeth and around the old break in my left humerus, seems to increase with the rhinitis.

So if I can stop my nose running, I may get rid of some other symptoms.

As I’m going on a cruise in eight days time, perhaps this will help me solve the mystery.

At least though, I’m certain that what causes the rhinitis, caused it as a child and as it didn’t kill me then, it probably won’t now.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

My History Of Nail Biting

As a child I was a compulsive nail-biter.  My mother always said, I started, when she stopped me from chewing the collar of my shirt. So you stop one habit and another starts.

I tried a few times to stop biting my nails, but it wasn’t successful and although I might stop for a few days on holiday outside of the UK, I started when I got back. C didn’t like it and at one time, I was painting awful stuff on my fingers to stop my biting of the nails. It wasn’t that successful.

Incidentally, two of my sons were nail-biters in a small way, but gave up before adulthood, which of course I didn’t do.

But then when I was diagnosed as a coeliac and went on a gluten-free diet, I stopped biting my nails. It happened virtually overnight and I’m not the only person I know, who has found this after going gluten-free.

These days my all twenty of my nails are very dry and need constant care to keep them in good condition. Interestingly, the odd bit I’ve broken off and eaten, taste just like my nails did as a child.  You could argue that nails taste like nails, but my good nails of say ten years ago had a different flavour.

So perhaps, I bit my nails as a child because they were dry and that as I liked doing it I’ve remembered the taste.

When they tasted that way, I had these awful breathing problems, just as I have rhinitis today. So perhaps all that time off school, was caused by the same illness that has plagued me this winter.

Perhaps my body is incredibly dry and that is causing the rhinitis.

The great thing is that it didn’t kill me sixty years ago!



March 6, 2013 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment