Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Nicotine patches and chest pains

Perhaps I can get to like my neighbour after all: yesterday he called me "young". He had commented on seeing me at the Livestock Fair in Buenavista on Sunday morning and, how I'd missed the best part - I quite agree - by leaving before the party / parade began. I explained briefly, to which his reaction was that I was too young to be tiring out so easily. We are still in full agreement! (The real irony here is that I'm older than him.)

The problem - to try to explain the limits on my day-to-day life - is that often (depending on a wide variety of circumstances), if I'm out / work / whatever for more than even a couple of hours that can be enough "strain" to put me in severe pain (legs, back, hips, shoulders, wherever else takes my body's fancy) for days afterwards.

That pain then often becomes too acute for me to be able to get to sleep, so the problem compounds ... rinse, repeat ... and I can't recover.

So, I'm aware of my physical limits and try to keep within them. This approach is what I've found to work - for me - from more than a decade of dealing with it: I'm not lazy - nor satisfied with staying in my "comfort zone" - by choice.

Anyway, the parade was late starting this year, I felt tired and, having gone down on the only late morning bus, I had to make a decision to get one back home, because the next bus would have made it too many hours. And lately, I have been being extra careful, because the problem has become worse since I stopped smoking in September.

Yes, I know this is "arse about face", but when I smoked for 36 years (and got to 2 packs a day), I didn't have chest pains nor become breathless walking up hills. Since giving up, I do. I hope I may see some improvements eventually, meanwhile ...

This new problem, was certainly triggered when I used Nicorette patches (though I am certain there must be other contributory factors). Under the precautions on the leaflet, it says essentially (well, it said it in Spanish), "If you notice palpitations or pain in the chest, you must remove the patch and go to a doctor."

Who notices a "little thing" like that? Do you read the leaflet for a "normal" product that, anyway is supposed to be to get you off a stronger drug?

But by about the 10th day, I suddenly got a pain in my chest so bad that (without exaggeration), I thought I was having a heart attack.

Being a qualified first-aider, I'm not one to panic, but that gripping, crippling pain scared the sh*t out of me. I crawled to bed and stayed there.

Later, I mentioned this to my mother, who casually said that she'd heard of this happening to people with these patches before. Oh, f@ckin wonderful!

Naturally, I've done a bit of searching since then, but didn't come up with much, other than advice pages that begin Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking, though this page lists the less common side effects (most of which I'd also experienced), so I suspect that suffering this level of side effects is as rare as finding hen's teeth and rocking horse poo together, which is nothing abnormal for me and hardly a surprise.

Although I've frequently had strong reactions to medicines, previously, that's mostly meant "may make you drowsy", translates in my case to, "will be unable to function and basically comatose for 24 hours." I still have to conclude, even if I had read any of it earlier, I had no history of heart problems, high blood pressure or chest pains, so I doubt that I (or even a doctor, for that matter), would have registered a need for any special precautions.

This page suggests that I should have got emergency medical attention, which I don't dispute. However, at the time, living alone, with nobody nearby to call, it was a classic case of being "too ill to go to the doctor." So I didn't.

Of course, I took the bloody patch off immediately and haven't used them since (yes, that means I've had to deal with giving up "cold turkey"), but I've been left with these tendencies to breathlessness, even greater fatigue and, the chest pain comes back, sometimes if I pick up merely the weight of a full coffee cup.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Typicalweek in paradise

Diamond Geezer's typicalweek program here reminded me of a conversation I had recently. Now, this may be stating the bleeding obvious to some, but to others it may come as a bit of a shock to learn that even after an expat has moved to "paradise" (here, for argument's sake we will include Tenerife), generally the typicalweek program still monotonously executes.

Sadly, it's not all subroutines of wastetheday and hitthetown&party

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Just another day in paradise

There are many people on this planet with a lot more to complain about than I have, but a typical day here lately has not exactly been what I would call productive. There's the "Christmas was basically a write-off" situation on top of this - that I hardly even want to think about, let alone describe - but since various nice people have emailed, asking where I am, here's a comprehensive reply for them and anyone else who may have silently wondered ...

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin:

After a screaming cat gets me up, usually between 8:00 and 8:30, I fire up the computer on my way through the office on the way to the bathroom. By the time I have attended to my ablutions, cleaned up the "ablutions" left by the furry tribe overnight, fed the cats their breakfast, done other necessary chores, put the coffee machine on, taken the dog up the hill for her ablutions ...

(Lately, I've had scary chest pains and additional health issues to deal with. This is quite apart from the fact that for more than I decade, I've woken up daily, in pain and feeling like I haven't slept. By the time I've carried out those few essential chores, I'm knackered. But that's a whole other story.)

... the computer might have successfully finished booting. Don't hold your breath over it though. Anyway, after one or two tries, if the computer does agree to arrancar (get its arse into gear), one can almost guarantee that it will connect to the internet, but a perfectly ordinary web page page might take over 600 seconds to load. This is a real example from today and this is DSL.

Often, the slowness of the connection is because it's been "taken over" by some update, but I thought the whole idea of broadband was so you could squeeze more than one task down the wires at a time.
Obviously, that's too much to ask. I can't really complain about the speed (sarcasm): after all the technicians did warn me that I'd only get about half of the usual 1GB speed since it has to come "up hill." (OK, a long way from the exchange, but that is how they said it!)

In addition to that, virtually daily, a perfectly normal software program - that I've been using for years and that has worked perfectly - will suddenly be "Not responding". Then the computer will slow down to slower than molasses in January, in an Ice Age. The "offending program" will then crash, losing whatever it was that I was working on. I then close down and re-boot the computer (while I take the dog up the road for another walk to avoid the interminable wait.)

Even so, this previously perfectly good software will still refuse to load at all, even when I find some "back door" to delete the allegedly corrupt file it was last working on and, even after updating the software to the latest version.

So, I completely remove the program. Download a clean version. Reinstall it, only to find that the very feature that I have been using the program for, for years, is "no longer supported" in the new version. Either I have to find a new program, or I have to fiddle and poke to use what's left of it in a semi-manual fashion. And, because every time I install a completely new program, the entire computer slows down even more (if you can imagine it going any 'effin slower) or crashes to the "blue screen of death", you can bet yer life that manual fiddling is the only viable option (or throwing the whole thing from a great height.)

Every time these strange events happen, just to be on the safe side, I run registry and crap cleaning tools, as well as defrag and various diagnostics to attempt to eek a little speed and reliability out of the machine. You never know if a gremlin has crept in, so I run adware, spyware and virus checks. The virus check alone takes 3 hours, but because the computer is running so slow and labored, it isn't possible to do anything else on it while those checks are running.

Doing all that, of course, means that I lose cookies and logins, etc., that I then have to have sent to me or look up. These, I am now collecting in an exercise book (ya know, one of those funny old things made of paper chopped down trees), 'coz I can't access the "convenient" digital records on the computer.

By the end of the given day - and the above example really happened yesterday - I fall into bed, realizing that I haven't been out, except for the dog's ablutions, haven't cooked anything, haven't washed dishes - or even myself - again (it's seldom possible to get hot water in this "uninhabitable" house in winter: another saga to tell) and, even though I might have spent a good amount of time working on a design, a project, a blog post, an email or whatever it got lost.

Hey, I might "get lucky" and get one or two things done before crashing.

This is really worse than doing nothing, because it gives the impression that I am around. Anyone seeing some change / post / whatever might then wonder why I haven't also answered their email. Actually, I might have tried. My response might be in a pile of corrupted electrons here someplace.
It all depends if I bother to start the computer at all, because there have been many days recently that I simply haven't wanted to face the stress of it all!

The computer situation has been getting steadily worse since one day last summer, when a Microsoft automatic update corrupted the whole caboodle (not an unusual event, I understand). Though I made it sorta work, there's a lot of stuff I simply can't access: I've searched everywhere, but the data from Outlook Express (yeah, I know, but some of it dates back to pre-history) just isn't in any of the places where it should be. And, I haven't been able to open Thunderbird at all yet, where I had, fortunately, imported a lot of that data, before the crash ...

Apart from the obvious frustrations here, is it necessary for me to underline that without a computer I have virtually no income (beyond a £250 "pension")? The last time I was "let go" from a job, because I'm clearly not fit enough to work, was 11 years ago. So, while none of this is a new problem, there have been various new complications added lately and, it's no longer possible or desirable to keep this as secret as I had done before (for numerous reasons.)

And obviously, I can't work or live like this for much longer, but due to these circumstances and my health, even fixing the computer problem is way beyond my mental capacities and, getting help is certainly beyond my budget.

In addition, I've given up smoking: my favorite vice.

This should be good news, but has actually increased the health challenges I've had to deal with. And I've also been attempting to simplify and rationalize; deep-sixing a few blogs and sites and, refocusing others, but it's proving impossible to actually finish this process too. And solving the entire bag of problems will almost certainly mean moving (that is, if a miracle occurs, otherwise, I could become a "bag lady"), so meanwhile I'm also in the process of dealing with that and tossing most of my material possessions in the process. The latter doesn't bother me. Having to leave my dog and at least some of my cats does though.

Actually, the situation is a lot more serious and difficult than I'm prepared to paint it as - you have to have some amusement reading this blog - so other suggestions welcome (in the comments). Donations even more so!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Hassling smokers for fun and profit

We all know that smoking is bad for you. This would be why so many doctors smoke maybe? Well, in 1949, most who did, smoked Camel, apparently:

Funny how that ad is completely socially unacceptable nowadays and, anyone who believed otherwise would quickly be labelled as an ignoramus. But, what has become socially acceptable in it's place today, is non-smokers hassling smokers for sport, because if there's one thing I agree with pro-smoking hoaxer Thomas Joschko over, it's that smokers are being hassled. Sometimes violently, for no legitimate reason and, even in the open air!

As Barry Goodman writes in Anti-smoking advocates turn nasty, horrified by the vitriol of anti-smokers, he asks what became of tolerance:

"Something worrying is happening if, like me, you are a smoker. I'm not referring to The Ban, which comes into effect in England on July 1, but to the licence that impending event has given the anti-smoking brigade to make their feelings known early. In the past 12 months I have been physically assaulted three times while smoking in perfectly legitimate places - twice at street tables outside cafes, and most recently in a restaurant when there was only one other table occupied."

This vitriolic anti-smoking brigade has more international branches too:

One day last year at the bus station - that is the open part of the bus station OUTSIDE the back of the building, where the diesel-belching busses pull in - in Icod, in Tenerife, I witnessed some very Canarian style melodrama (almost worthy of an Oscar) from an ignorant woman who "could not" remain seated on the same row of benches (not just a single bench) as a smoker.

Along with a greatly hammed up performance of disgust, she had to make her feelings known audibly and repeatedly, to all and sundry in the vicinity. Added was an unspoken inference that non-smokers have become higher class citizens, who now have a greater right to sit on public benches.

It wasn't actually violent, but such flamboyant, reactionary behaviour in public easily entices other people to adopt such illogical views and for the situation to escalate. Have not these anti-smoking crusaders thought that outside cars, trucks - and, in this case, diesel fumes from a constant stream of smelly busses - not to mention all the belching muck from heavy industry, will cause far more dangerous fumes than a whole boat load of chain-smokers?

For instance, Living in Cairo Is the Same as Smoking a Pack a Day says, "The average resident of Cairo ingests more than 20 times the acceptable level of air pollution a day, the same as a pack of cigarettes." Mexico City is probably about the same and large cities in China are probably worse.

The health risks from any urban air pollution - to both smokers and non-smokers - must be higher than the risks from any second-hand cigarette smoke, especially out of doors. But, the bans and all the press they get, incite a certain type of "professional objector" into this kind of aggressive, anti-social, intolerant behaviour. Society shouldn't permit that either, but seems currently confused by an apparent "legal right to do the morally wrong."


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