The Anonymous Widower

M4: Alternative Solutions To Motorway Travel

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

It is a good read giving both sides of the problems of commuting.

This is an important section from an expert.

Prof Mark Barry, a transport expert at Cardiff University, said the M4 has been important in attracting manufacturing, but there have been negatives.

“The downside is we’ve built a lot more housing, retail and other business parks around the M4, that’s then made us over-dependent on the car,” he said.

I think Professor Barry is highlighting a problem, that is seen all over the UK. Like the United States, housing, office, medical and leisure developments are being built, where the only way to get there is by car.

I don’t drive because my eyesight has been damaged by a stroke, but I still have a full life, with more travel than the average man of 71.

June 14, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

My Unusual Body

I say unusual, but I suspect there are others out there with similar problems to me.

I was delivered in 1947, by the almost exotically-named; Dr. Egerton White, who was the family GP. He had all the expected characteristics of a three-piece suit, a corporation, a long watch chain and the obligatory Rover car. He also had a rather unusual blotchy skin, that leads me to think he was probably of mixed race.

I was small in stature, not the healthiest of children and was always going to see him and his partner, a Doctor Curley!

  • At times, I would cough my guts out for hours on end.
  • Later I remember my mother saying to my future wife, that I had difficulty eating as a baby, and I would fall asleep as she fed me.
  • Often I would spend three or four months away from school and I can remember spending hours with my head over a large jug of hot Friar’s Balsam.
  • At one point, someone said it could be the lead in the paint in our house, so my father burnt it all off and replaced it.
  • My mother used to make gallons of home-made lemonade according to one of Mrs. Beeton’s recipes, which must have helped, when I drunk it.
  • Doctors White and Curley were puzzled and at one point the new-fangled drug penicillin.
  • It should be remembered that in the 1950s, even in leafy Southgate, where we lived, the air was thick with the pollution from coal fires for a lot of the year.

In the end, one thing that helped was a nasal spray cooked-up by a pharmacist called Halliday. I can still smell it and suspect it was little more than the base chemical still used in some nasal sprays available from pharmacies.

Although my poor health persisted at times, I still managed to pass the 11-Plus and get to Minchenden Grammar School.

But I remember in the first year, I had virtually a term away.

From about ten or eleven, my health gradually improved.

I can suggest these reasons.

  • Getting older helped in some way.
  • I was exercising a lot more by cycling around, although it was up a hill to get home.
  • My parents had bought a house in Felixstowe and we would spend weekends there. Although, as I got older I hated being away from my friends with little to do, so I tended to stay in and read.

In the 1960s, my health seemed to improve dramatically, when I spent three years at Liverpool University and a year afterwards working for ICI at Runcorn.

Liverpool is a Maritime City and in those days, the air was much better than London.

But I also got married in 1968 and I can never remember serious noughts of coughing, sneezing and breathing difficulties in the time Celia was alive.

Although, she did often say that before I went to sleep, I would always sneeze three times and sometimes she would even count them.

She also regularly said, that my sneezes were rather violent at times. They still are!

In the late nineties, I was diagnosed as a coeliac. Regularly, I’d go to the GP around the turn of the year with a general run-down feeling.

Nothing specific, but then an elderly locum decided I ought to have a blood test, which would be the first of my life!

The result was that I was very low in vitamin B12. As a series of injections didn’t improve the situation, I was sent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests.

I was diagnosed as a coeliac, initially on a blood test and then by two endoscopies. Note that Addenbrooke’s used to do them without anaesthetic, as it means the patient can easily get into a better position and doesn’t break teeth. It also means that the hospital doesn’t have to provide as many beds for recovery. Certainly, I’ve had worse experiences with highly-capable dentists!

I thought this was the end of my health problems.

It certainly seemed to be, except for occasional breathing difficulties early in the year. I can remember having difficulty climbing Table Mountain.

My stroke was brought on by atrial fibrillation three years after Celia died.

It happened in Hong Kong and before it happened in the restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I had had a walk and remember how well the air felt early in the morning in the City.

The doctors said I had had a serious stroke and I was kept in hospital for twelve weeks on the 29th floor of a hospital with the sun streaming through the windows.

I remember one incident, where I was accused of throwing my water away and not drinking enough, as I wasn’t urinating. But I was drinking, so they checked my waterworks thoroughly and put in a catheter. Nothing improved. Thankfully, eventually they gave up!

So where was all that water going?

Another curious thing in Hong Kong was that their automatic blood pressure machines sometimes didn’t work well on me in the morning. So they resorted to traditional devices and a stethoscope.

After the stroke, I was put on long-term Warfarin and I have been told several times, that I if I get the dose right, I won’t have another stroke.

Now moved to London, I possibly made the mistake of moving to a house, which gets too hot.

One day I collapsed, panicked as I thought it was another stroke.

It wasn’t and UCLH thought that I needed to be put on Ramipril, Bisoprolol Fumarate and Spirolactone.

Since then another cardiologist has dropped the Spirolactone.

As I said my body is unusual in strange ways.

  • If I have an injection or give a blood sample, I don’t bleed afterwards or need a plaster. With a new nurse, it often causes a bit of a laugh!
  • My nose seems to be permanently blocked and I rarely am able to blow it properly.
  • My feet don’t have any hard skin, which is probably unusual for my age.
  • I used to suffer from plantar fasciitis, which seems to have been partly cured by the Body Shop’s hemp foot protector.
  • I drink a large amount of fluids, with probably six mugs of tea and a litre of lemonade or beer every day.
  • I always have a mug of decaffinated tea before I go to bed.
  • I often have half-an-hour’s sleep in the middle of the day. As did my father!
  • My eyes are very dry and I have a bath most mornings, where I put my head under the water and open my eyes.

Perhaps, the strangest incident was I went to sleep on the floor after a lot of tea, with the window open.

I woke up to find I couldn’t see! There was nothing wrong with me, but my large living room was full of steam, like you’d get if you leave the kettle on.

I came to the conclusion after that incident, that the only place the water could have come, was through my skin.

This was also suggested by a nurse, who said he’d got leaky skin.

As someone, who understands physics, could this leaky skin be the cause of my problems?

And do the drugs make it worse?

My Grandfather

He died at forty, long before I was born.

He was an alcoholic, who eventually died of pneumonia.

Could his drinking like mine, have started because of a need for fluids?

I used to drink a lot of beer until I was about twenty-four, but my father had suffered so badly emotionally because of the death of his father, that he had instilled the right attitude to drink deep in my mind.


This has been a bit of a ramble!

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Vitamin D Problems

I found this post in the MedHelp web site.

Under a heading of Huge Problems With Vision, this is said.

Hi at all,
at first sorry for my english. – I´m from Germany and will try my best! I go diagnosesed with a low vitamin D level from 20 and I´m glad to found this forum because I never thought that all theses symptomse could be yust because of a low Vitamin D level. I´m taking 50.000 iU once a week since 3 weeks now. I have most of the symtomse the most of you have like,

– tick with the eye,
-consistently feeling dizzy, like I’ve shifted a couple of inches one direction or the other, without really moving at all – short on air.
-Muscle pain in both sides of the rib area,
-Problems swallowing,
-Joints in my feet and legs were very painful, making it very hard to walk up and down stairs
-Constant buzzing sensation on the souls of my feet now
– Cramps in my legs
– not sleeping well
– sweating during the night
– cant concentrate or even thinking
–  allmost dizzy all the time

What bothered me the most right know is my vision. I can´t drive or do my grocery anymore. I´m allmost at home now for over 2 month. Dos somebody else has problems with their vision too? Do you know how long i takes to get better?

They could be describing my problems.

After my stroke, I had my eyes tested and was banned from driving. As I’d been in hospital for a couple of months, I suspect my vitamin D levels were rock bottom.

January 10, 2017 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Vitamin D Deficiency And Atrial Fibrillation

I’ve just found a paper in the International Journal of Cardiology with this title.

As according to two cardiologists in Cambridge, the reason I had my stroke was atrial fibrillation, I should discuss this with a cardiologist.

I think my story goes something like this.

  • For some reason, I didn’t like the sun and kept out of it.
  • When I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I went gluten-free and didn’t get added Vitamin D in my food.
  • But C dragged me off to the sunnier climes, where now I can stay in the sun without problem.
  • When she died, I retreated into myself and didn’t go to the sun.
  • So did I get low vitamin D?
  • My GP thought so and I decided to drive around in my Lotus with the top down.
  • I eventually, had the stroke, I’d probably been just missing since C died.
  • Atrial fibrillation was diagnosed and it was said to have caused the stroke.
  • Warfarin has been prescribed to protect me!

I’ve added sun and vitamin D for good measure.

Until I can prove otherwise, my father who gave me coeliac disease, wasn’t so lucky and died of a stroke.

Did he have atrial fibrillation and low vitamin D?

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

The Properties Of Turmeric

I’ve often thought that curries seem to perk me up and I posted about it two years ago.

Now there’s this report from Germany, entitled Brain Repair May Be Boosted By Curry Spice. Here’s a flavour.

A spice commonly found in curries may boost the brain’s ability to heal itself, according to a report in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy.

The German study suggests a compound found in turmeric could encourage the growth of nerve cells thought to be part of the brain’s repair kit.

I think, I’m off for a curry tonight!

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Food, Health, World | | Leave a comment

Centralised Stroke Care Is Good For You

I had what some doctors have described as a serious stroke, although I think it might not have been that severe, although it did leave me with damaged eyesight.

I had the stroke in Hong Kong and within about an hour, I was in hospital receiving the special clot busting drug.

But if I’d had that stroke in London, I would have probably had that drug in the ambulance and I would have been in hospital within thirty minutes.

In common with Manchester, London has centralised stroke care in what are called hyperacute stroke units or HASUs.  And according to research published in the BMJ, they work well and save lives and money for the NHS. Read all about the system in the Guardian. The article finishes like this.

So what’s stopping this system from being rolled out in other metropolitan areas? It’s a question that Morris’s collaborators are seeking to answer, by studying the potential barriers and facilitators of country-wide stroke unit reconfiguration. Morris himself wants to look at the cost-effectiveness of the exercise: does the improvement in care and reduction in hospital (and hospice) stays make the reconfiguration worthwhile?

There are a few hundred people alive today who would undoubtedly answer “yes”.

My life may not have been saved by a HASU, but I did have similar care.

Admittedly, not every hospital could have a HASU, but most metropolitan areas could and should.

If you take where I used to live near Cambridge, and you draw a thirty-minute ambulance ride area around Addenbrookes hospital, you would enclose about 300,000 people. So it is not just the large metropolitan areas that would benefit.

Everyone possible, should be within range of a HASU.

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Health, News | , | 1 Comment

A Rubbish Bag Failure

I had a rare rubbish bag failure this morning.

A Rubbish Bag Failure

A Rubbish Bag Failure

Despite my stroke, I seem to drop things rarely, but this was caused by a carton of chicken stock, that wasn’t fit for purpose.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | , | Leave a comment

I’m Finally Feeling Better

The rain yesterday seemed to get into my body and for the first time since probably last September, I’m starting to feel better and my nose has almost stopped running with its chronic rhinitis. My gut, which hasn’t been of the best since my stroke, has now returned to good health and any gastro-enterologist would hate all his patients to have such a healthy one.

So my left hand is still a bit gammy, but then it always has been since my arm was broken by the school bully. I can use it for the shift key as I type, but in most instances, I just span with my right. The only thing, I have done a lot with the left is fly an aircraft and ride a bike. Perhaps I should do both of these again?

My skin still itches and my scalp is tight from getting too dry over the winter, but a few days in the rain without a hat will help to cure that.  Thinking about it, I’ve always liked being in the rain and rarely used to carry an umbrella.  C used to think I was mad sometimes. I once joked to her, that I was short because I spent too much time in the rain.

But I’m getting there and I think more and more, that a lot of my troubles were caused by changes I made on the death of C, like the duvet and extra radiators I put in at the previous house, and the very dry atmosphere I have lived in since the stroke. In Hong Kong, the hospital had large picture windows, where the sun streamed through and guess what, it is the same in this house.  The air has been particularly dry outside all last winter and only now is it getting more humid.

Quite a few of my eye problems have gone away too, although I still have the left lower vision loss from the stroke.  My eyes are at last getting wetter more of the time. i think I could probably get my driving licence back! But why bother?

I shall make sure I don’t repeat drying myself out!

August 25, 2013 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Conclusions From Self Testing My INR Daily

Tomorrow, it will be eleven weeks since I started self testing my INR on a daily basis. The results are here.

I should say that after I had my stroke, an eminent cardiologist said that if I got my Warfarin right, I wouldn’t have another stroke.

So can I come to any conclusions from the tests I have been taking?

I did miss one day early on, but otherwise I’ve taken the test successfully on a daily basis.

I’ve now developed a daily routine in the morning, where I do my stretching and exercises after checking my computer, then have a shower and breakfast, before doing the washing-up by hand, which warms my hands.  I then take the test and only rarely do I fail first time and need a second strip.

So the first conclusion, is develop a routine for when you do your tests, that suits your personality and lifestyle.

One thing that you notice from the tests, is that there is quite a large variation between days.  A change of 0.5 in the INR, either up or down is not uncommon. This is not a problem, but it could with some people worry them and then they might start to chase their target INR, by constantly changing the dose.

Hot days incidentally, do seem to try to force the INR upwards and although you won’t find this on the Internet, a medical professional has told me that it happens.

I use a very simple manual algorithm, based on my training and experience as a Control Engineer. I know from when I was living in Suffolk, that a Warfarin level of 4 mg. a day is about right to meet my target of 2.5.  So I use a simple algorithm, summarised as follows.

INR less than or equal to 2.2, take 5 mg.

INR higher than or equal to 2.8, take 3 mg.

INR between 2.2 and 2,8, take 4 mg.

So how has my INR behaved?

If I look at the average value of the last 28 days, it is 2.56 and this rolling 28 day average has been within 0.1 of 2.5 for the last seven weeks. I couldn’t calculate it before, as I didn’t have enough data. An interesting figure is that the standard deviation of the readings is about 0.3. Effectively this says that nearly all of the readings are within 2.2 and 2.8, which is within my target range of between 2 and 3.

So as the patient, I think I could safely say that my simple algorithm works.

But perhaps what is most interesting is that the 28 day average for the dose I’m taking is around 3.8 mg. So rounding this to the nearest tablets, that means if I can’t take a reading for some reason, then I should take 4 mg.

So I can conclude that the daily testing has given me a very sensible daily dose, which is virtually the same, as I took, when the tests were done by nurses, hospitals and laboratories, at great expense to the NHS.

So should all those going on Warfarin be assessed to see, if they could self-test their INR levels?

I believe they should!  And it’s not just me!

An organisation called the Anticoagulation Self-Monitoring Alliance is pushing for more self testing. Be cynical if you like, but it is part-funded by Roche, who make the self testing meters.

On the other hand, how many diabetics test their blood sugar levels regularly and have a better lifestyle because of it?


August 2, 2013 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On My Left Arm

My left arm isn’t good and it has never been since the humerus was broken by the school bully. My son asked me why I don’t floss my teeth and I think the answer is that my left hand can’t do it.  After all, the only thing it’s done successfully with it, is fly an aircraft. A friend told me, that when she met me, she was surprised at the way I typed. I also always used to sit in the cinema or theatre with C to my right, so as that was for forty years, I’ve probably protected that arm all the time. One eminent doctor, said I was suffering from neglect syndrome, which is generally stroke-related.  But I’ve avoided using my left arm for years and I’m very right-handed. Even playing tennis, I tend to run round my backhand and if I ever do a backhand it is two-handed.

I can remember going back to around twenty and when I drove my old Morris Minor, I’d often do the gear-changing without using the clutch. Did this mean that my left arm didn’t have to apply so much pressure?

June 21, 2013 Posted by | Health | | Leave a comment