Hiatus…changes….and I slipped

When I started this blog, I intended to blog about the process of donating a kidney to my sister. As time went on, I found myself blogging about different things that life presented me with. I started to record my thoughts and feelings which isn’t something I would normally publicly air, though this medium provides a degree of anonymity. And as part of the living donor process, I blogged about my research on giving up smoking, along with the daily happenings as I gave up after nearly 30 years of smoking every day. This latter part had to happen really. I was up to between 30 and 40 a day and had began to feel short of breath when climbing stairs and other similar activities.

Over the last four or five days, I’ve took a hiatus from blogging. After finding out that I could not donate and sharing the news with my family, I had something of a downward spiral. But life goes on. Chin up as my Dad used to say when we were kids. Her preparation for dialisys will continue and there are a few possible donors.

I had a few cigarettes too. Perhaps this was a little dumb, but I found myself craving a smoke even more that when I initially gave up. That caught me unawares, after nearly five weeks I hadn’t anticipated that. So over the course of a day I smoked three. Less than half of three actually. Part way through each one, I asked myself what was I doing. They werent particularly nice, or foul, and certainly werent making me feel any better. That was a few days ago now, so I am back on the wagon so to speak.

I did some research for my sis. She doesn’t use the internet and had a question about whether someone close to her would be in a position to donate. So I read alot of things about being a living donor. Stuff I had purposefully avoided in the past. Which included the risk and chances of different illnesses happening to the donor. I hadn’t been completely blind to them. At my initial session at the donor clinic the nurse went through all the different risks, some of them were surprisingly high, but it was information overload and frankly, I didnt want to know the percentages. I’d made the decision and had to trust that they new what they were doing, that they wouldn’t be proceeding if the risks became untenable. During my research the night before last, the thing that stood out for me was the chance of a stroke or heart related problem. The NHS page states 1.8%. That seems pretty high. And it makes sense of why they are not willing to proceed with my donation.

This blog will continue. As my sister begins dialysis and searches for another donor, I will record what I can here, along with other thoughts. I do want to thank everyone for their kind wishes, it is been heartwarming and uplifting to receive them.

Chin up.


Quickie at the clinic

In and out. Quickly. This is exactly how it ought to be.

Arrived at the cessation clinic at (high?) noon. Quick chat, carbon monoxide levels at 2ppm (for which I blame the bus belching out diesel fumes that I passed on the walk down), new prescription for another week of Nicorette patches. Left at 5 past the hour. Job done.

Life as a non smoker. What do I do, now that I have all this extra free time? I am so much healthier for it too. I feel a cooked breakfast coming on to compensate.

Happy Friday

Thank crunchie it’s Friday.

What does Friday mean to you?

The weekend approaches. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, mostly, when I am not having to work so hard to convince people that certain things are good things – people really do get precious about what “belongs” to them. Yesterday was a good day catching up with a number of people who I enjoy spending time with at the office. It was great seeing them. I had a couple of very productive meetings and although there are some challenges ahead, I have some clear definition of how we plan to overcome them.

My two week stint of staying off my motorbike for medical reasons are almost over. I admit, I took it for a quick spin last week, but it was just that, a quick spin and for the majority of it, on a private road.

And I’m almost through my fourth box of Nicorette patches – the cravings come and go, but still smoke free. Mental note to self – need to go to the cessation clinic in the morning and get a repeat prescription.

These things make me happy. Though I keep it well hidden.

Today is…

…a big day. For many reasons, personal and professional.

From a personal perspective, I’ve passed the three week watershed of giving up smoking. Sometimes it is a total piece of cake, other times, well, let’s skim over those, they don’t last very long anyway.

It’s also just under two weeks since being admitted to hospital with a burst blood vessel in my neck – did I mention that giving up smoking must be bad for your health. As it stands, I have one eye which is normal, the other one opens about 75% as much as the normal one and the pupil is about half the size. There has frequently been exchanges at home where my wife and family have said “What’s wrong? What was that look for?”. Then I remind them, this is just how I look now!

I checked it out in the mirror and tried to convince myself it was improving, even to the point where I said to my wife “Hmmm, I think it’s getting better”. She disagreed. Always the realist she is. Thanks darling, a little encouragement goes a long way. I am working on the premise that the power of positive thinking can help my eye repair itself. Okay, I know, I’m f*ked, but I am not ready to admit that just yet. Apparently the headaches will ease over time and the doc says it might repair itself. So there.

Workwise I’ve got alot on. I’m working on two projects, one software related, the other, more structural. The next two weeks are going to be really pivotal and there has been a fair amount of stress around them. The doc did say to take it easy. So I am. Kind of. I am working sensible, normal hours and not burning the midnight oil.

And I am exercising. Nothing earth shattering, but it can be a good way of maintaining a calmer outlook and approach.

That’s my rambling for the day. Now to go do some actual work.

The truth about e-cigarettes?

I’ve read alot of blogs and articles on smoking recently. In some ways, it helps me to focus on why I am giving the bloody things up and seeing other people go through the same pain is strangely comforting.

There is one thing that rubs me up the wrong way. And that is negative articles about e-cigarettes. Now I feel reasonably qualified to comment on them. I smoked between 20 and 30 cigarettes a day for nigh on three decades and have tried a variety of the e-cigarettes on the market. In essence, they are a nicotine delivery system that aims to imitate the activity of smoking a cigarette which ought to bring some relief to those packing in the weed.

I think they perform a reasonable function. I dislike the weight of some of them. And you have no indication of when you have smoked the equivalent of a cigarette so how do you know when to stub it out/put it away. Other than that, I have no issue with them.

I know there has been the odd occasion of people stacking multiple e-cigarette batteries together and blowing them up in their own faces, but let’s face it, there’s always some loony who wants to pimp his ride. They probably customise and fiddle with everything they shouldn’t in an effort to make it better/faster/bigger. Some people cannot be protected from themselves.

There are no properly researched reports that I can find that conclude that e-cigarettes contain significant amounts of any harmful chemicals other than nicotine.

I suspect the tobacco companies are real unhappy at this growth of e-cigarettes. Perhaps they missed a trick there. Call me a cynic, but given their track record of spreading confusion and doubt about the dangers of smoking, I cannot help but feel that those negative reports about e-cigarettes have the feel of a press release from the tobacco companies. Who funds these reports?

Sleep and how giving up smoking can be bad for your health

Today I awoke at silly oclock. Since giving up smoking my sleep patterns are all over the place and I feel myself wanting to doze off in the middle of the day, then wide awake before the birds are even chirping.

I’m in week 3 of a smoke free zone – it’s too early to work out what day number, somewhere around 18 I think.

Other symptoms I’m experiencing include bleeding gums, upset tummy, terrible wind, inability to concentrate and generally feeling a bit crap. Apparently, these symptoms are fairly common when you’ve given up smoking. I can only conclude that giving up smoking is bad for your health. At least in the short term.

Long term, there’s no question, it is better not to be smoking. That doesn’t make the here and now any easier though. No worries, I will persevere.

A few people have sent comments on how I’m doing a really good thing for my sister and how well I am doing giving up smoking. Thanks for the encouragement everyone. I think most of you would do the same if you were in my position though. And it is pretty strong motivation for stopping smoking. You can’t really entertain any serious thoughts of going back to smoking in this situation. It’s just not an option.

I have read alot of blogs on here, written by people in various stages of giving up. By far the funniest is this one, from someone called velenephobe. Maybe it is my warped sense of humour, but it makes me laugh out loud. Another one, not smoking related, that makes me chuckle is Humorous Dispassionate, I don’t know where the author gets them from, but when you need a smile, take a look.

I spoke to the lovely people at the Living Donor Centre yesterday. They are waiting on the MRI results from my local hospital but I am pushing for the transplant to happen before Christmas. It feels like one of those things that hang over you, preventing you from planning other things in life. I just want it done. And if you are reading this sis, hang on in there.

Day 16 and an offsite meeting

Apparently it takes 30 days to form a habit and just as long to break one. So I am over half way there, woohooo.

Today has been a strange day. I had a offsite meeting in a neutral location with my manager and the woman I work with. It must have been playing on my mind, as I woke earlier than normal and spent the morning doing small bits and pieces on my code, still working from home. I avoided the main pain relief as I started on it yesterday and it made me feel….not quite all there.

Those that know me, may note that I am not always firing on all four cyclinders, but I mean I was really spaced out. I since read up on tramadol and while it has been prescribed for pain relief, it is an opiate and anti depressant too. Driving, riding my bike and operating machinery in general is a no no during the first few days of taking it. Hmmm, I wonder if that means I cant safely operate the kettle and everyone else has to make my cuppas?

Back to the meeting. Things have got kind of weird at work. Apart from me being hospitalised, one of the team and I are at serious odds. Despite trying to keep things professional (and I am sure they have been trying too) things reached a head last week. The next step is to get in a room together and thrash things out with someone acting as mediator. Hopefully this will see an end to it and things will move on.

We also discussed very briefly, my illness.

Most of the time was spent discussing the current project. I feel alot happier about that and feel that we are now set to make some real significant progress that will make everyone’s life easier in the team.