Tuesday, 18 January 2022

A year in review: Health and wellbeing, part seven

This memorial contains almost a month’s worth of parts – though not all of ‘em are about my health! – and the post you’re reading is the twenty-fifth in the series. 

Again I got a reminder of my health’s frailty when, on 9 August, I felt heart palpitations driving on a local road. It was just over past the airport to help Ming, a trip I had been completing several times a week in order to provide her with the care she needed at this time, but on the present occasion my heart accelerated and went alarmingly fast for the majority of the 6km journey and only calmed once I got close to arrival. Then the two of us got in the car and I took her to Arncliffe post office – a trip that caused me no problems at all, as it was all performed on low-speed roads – and then once I’d finished doing what was needed for her convenience, when I drove alone back to my home in Botany, on the road past the airport I managed to get the trip done with no dramas. 

To test the animal the next day I went over again – this time to drop something off that’d been left with me by Omer – and this time the beast was calm throughout. I didn’t completely understand how it worked, but anticipating fear seems to make the fear manifest itself, as I found when, on the 15th, I took the same road – again with a disastrous result. What I mean to say by saying this is that, on this occasion, my heart went fast the whole way there and once there, on my suggestion, Omer gave me his “L” plates to put on the car so he could drive back to my house, which he did without mishap.

On 17 August I spoke with my psychiatrist and we agreed that I should go back on the antidepressant I’d given up in March. I restarted the medication in 5mg doses on the 18th and on that day drove without mishap to Eastgardens Shopping Centre to drop off a Facebook Marketplace item, for which I’d been paid via PayPal. The next day I took the medication again and drove to get petrol and groceries at Mascot. On the next two days I took 10mg instead of the lower dose and on the 21st I managed to drive on Qantas Drive without an accelerated heartrate, indicating that the medicine was quickly working to alleviate anxiety. The electric shocks that before I’d felt coursing through my legs was absent, and I didn’t even have a tightening of my scrotum indicating panic.

By this time my weight loss had, with sustained and concentrated daily effort, stabilised (see chart below) under 83kg. It took discipline to keep the reading at this level, with any overindulgence immediately, the next morning, punished by higher numbers. I had decided intuitively – it just felt right – to stay at around 83kg or just under in case I was at a restaurant eating something I’d normally avoid. 

I’d have leeway for a temporary lapse. I was also careful with medications and by 24 August was on 20mg of Lexapro every morning, though I still experienced brief bouts of anxiety. The night before my heart had beat heavily when I got into bed but eventually I got to sleep without further disturbance, waking up refreshed late the next morning (late by my standards; it was 6am). I drove to Mascot and got a Covid test because I had a slightly sore throat in the morning. This was alarming as my house guest had only just had his first dose of the vaccine. Ming, also, was vulnerable, and hadn’t had any vaccine doses at this point in time. When I got home I spoke with Omer about the test, but he didn’t appear to be alarmed by what I said, which was surprising. 

The test required filling out a paper form using a pen supplied on-site, including Medicare number, name, date of birth, address, and phone number. When I spoke with Omer a little after returning home he said he wouldn’t immediately isolate but would wait for my results to come through which, he said, should be the same day. I tried phoning Ming but she’d turned her phone off or had blocked me, it wasn’t clear as there was no dial tone. When Omer went out to look for an apartment to rent I watched the daily Covid press conferences. The result came while I was sleeping, at 11.31pm, from Laverty Pathology, the company that did the test, and it was negative. I saw their SMS the next morning after I weighed myself.

On 30 August I put Waxsol drops in my left ear and repeated the dose the next night because it was blocked. This has regularly happened since childhood, and I imagined myself making an appointment to see Dr Nanda on the Wednesday (he doesn’t normally work on Thursdays) so he could syringe the wax out of the auditory canal, but on the first of the month I used earbuds to dig out the blockage, and the channel mostly cleared itself.

I wasn’t trying to lose weight but I kept on hitting new lows, then would be unwilling to go above the new mark, with the result that the kilos kept coming off. On the night before this snapshot was taken I had a heavy heartbeat after I got into bed and I couldn’t ascribe a reason for it.

On 10 September I scratched off a black spot that had troubled me sufficiently to make me, on 27 August, visit Dr Nanda for a consultation. He briefly looked at the discolouration and said that we should watch it, and on the same visit in August he gave me antibiotics for an infected cuticle that was troubling my right hand. On 16 September I successfully clipped my toenails without damaging the cuticles on my toes. Because of weight loss I could easily reach my feet with my hands.

Health concerns made an impact on my life in another way on Saturday 18 September when I went in the car to Officeworks to do some photocopying. I took the Mill Pond Road route via Airport Drive and turned into O’Riordan Street but when I hit the lights before the turn traffic slowed down to a crawl. The cars and trucks stopped and then moved forward a few metres at a time and it wasn’t until I got around the corner that I saw a road block the police had set up to prevent people – I found out later on as I watched the TV – from getting to Sydney Park for a lockdown protest rally. A female officer prompted me to move my car forward to a point where she was happy and then approached my window, which I wound down using the electric switch. "Obviously, we're just wanting to do compliance checking,” she said apologetically but firmly, and when I told her where I was off to she asked me where I lived then requested to see some ID. I pulled out my wallet and showed her my driver’s licence and she released me. Later, in the afternoon, about six hours after my first trip, I went back to Officeworks for the same purpose and along the same roads but by this time the roadblock had gone.

I visited Dr Nanda on 13 October in order to discuss a vaccination booster shot but he told me that for the present time the authorities were only allowing people with compromised immune systems to get a third jab. He showed me a couple of photocopied sheets of printed paper containing directions and we briefly discussed the matter before I turned the conversation to other things, including my sore coccyx. He suggested getting a sheepskin to put under my bum, but I’d already taken steps to rearrange the furniture in the living room. 

I also got my GP to give me a script for reflux medication because sometimes I got twinges in my throat. I’d stopped taking reflux pills at the beginning of the year. Dr Nanda showed by his voice that he was curious to learn that I’d gone back on the Lexapro and asked me what dosage I was taking. I told him my weight that morning was 79.5kg and he added the new data to his records. As usual he didn’t charge me for the visit and I left, taking off my mask as soon as I got to the street.

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