Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Clean hair, no breath

Posted by Oli on Monday 16th July, 2007

My days seem to get more and more roller-coaster-y by the week.

Take today:

Woke up this morning and no sooner had I taken Neve off and got out of bed than I was struggling for breath and feeling distinctly uncomfortable, not helped by a significant amount of back pain, a repercussion I’m sure of sleeping in a slightly more propped up position last night.

With regards to my sleeping habits, it seems I can’t win.  Going to bed breathless, as I did last night, demands a more upright sleeping position, or at least having my head and chest raised a little further than I would otherwise choose to sleep.  While this eases the breathlessness and causes less problems with waking up coughing in the night, it plays havoc with my back, which I think ends up slightly unnaturally curved.  But I digress.

I managed to struggle through some breakfast, which I have to admit was a bit of a chore, and I laboured my way through sorting out and taking my nebs before taking myself back to bed to read, where I felt most comfortable, both for my chest and my back.

At 11.30am, I spoke to the lovely journalist feature writer from the Mirror for about 45 minutes and far from ending up breathless, I seemed to get stronger as the interview went on – completely bizarre and totally the wrong way round.

It was a great interview, covering a lot of my life and progression over the last few years up to talking about the present day and the Mirror’s One in a Million campaign.  It was funny talking to a journalist and constantly second-guessing how she was going to write it up; I was very wary of not saying something which she could infer to mean something else.

Asking me what I thought about people who hadn’t signed up, I was trying to explain how frustrating it is that so many people are in favour of donation without actually signing the register, but without saying it’s frustrating, as the last thing I want is to be portrayed as accusing the country of not caring about organ donation or other people’s lives.  She asked me if I felt “let down” by those people and I had to hastily back-track over what I’d said to make sure that wasn’t the impression I was giving.

I’d never say I felt let down by people not signing the register, but it does seem like such a waste that there are people who’s organs could be used which aren’t simply because they’ve never taken that step to make people aware of their wishes.

That said, there’s an awful lot more to increasing organ donation than merely signing up more people to the donor register.  The Sunday Times ran a front page piece talking about the Opt-Out system yesterday, which on paper is a great idea for increasing the number of organs donated.  But in practice, it still requires a huge investment in the NHS infrastructure and we still need to look into the education and training of NHS staff to make sure that the system is optimised.  Simply changing the way in which consent is acquired won’t be enough.

Back from my rather lengthy segue, I found myself feeling much brighter after the interview and managed physio and nebs before heading to bed for a bit more rest and reading.

By mid-afternoon, I had recovered sufficiently to get out of the house for half an hour to run and errand with K, which was a really nice change of scene.  Although I was tired when I got back, it was nice to get out and enjoy a little bit of the nice weather.

This evening, things have swung back a little the other way.  In preparation for the photographer from the Mirror coming round tomorrow, I decided to have a shower to wash my hair and boy was that a bad idea.

The problem with a shower over a bath is that it’s very hard to wear oxygen in the shower, with wires hanging all over the place and water running over your face, and even harder to wash your hair with specs over your ears, so I tend not to wear it.  Tonight’s shower was, I think, one of the single most uncomfortable breathing experiences I’ve ever had.

It’s not that I was dramatically out of breath – not panting or gasping for air – but more that I just couldn’t seem to get enough air into my lungs to keep me going.  The whole thing from start to finish probably took me about 3 minutes and it was horrible.  By the time I finished I had to climb out and sit down in the bathroom for a good 10 minutes to recover myself.  Not nice.

Still, now I’m fresh and ready for the snapping man and I have very little to do between now and then, so I can try to make myself comfortable and chill out a little for the evening.  Hopefully my breathlessness will be under control tonight, so I can sleep in a more back-friendly position, but we’ll have to wait and see what my chest roller-coaster throws up for me tonight.

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8 Responses to “Clean hair, no breath”

  1. Jacqui said

    Look forward to seeing the results of your interview in print. Hope the photo shoot (sounds sooo glam.) goes well. x

  2. Emily said

    No oxygen in the shower!!? OLI! Taking a shower/washing your hair equates to physical exercise. Now as a knowledgable young man you know that we require more O2 during exersion, not less. Therefore….no wonder you felt so ill! I wore my 35% mask for a shower or bath for the last 6 months or so, which made it just about bearable.

    ok lecture over (sorry). Am so excited to read this Mirror piece, it’s going to be fab, go YOU! 😀

  3. Jayne said

    I look forward to seing your freshly washed locks in the paper. I saw you on the news too, you were great (as ever).

    I hope you get a good nights sleep Oli.

    Take care xxx

  4. Emmie said

    I have to say that having a shower can be a breathlessness-inducing and knackering experience even for me when I’m not too well! Can they give you a mask perhaps that would prevent the hair-washing problem a bit? Actually I really think a media star like you should have someone come in and wash your hair for you hehe!

    Hope you sleep better tonight and I’ll be looking closely at your smart hair when it appears in the paper! :o)

    Emma xxxxxxx

  5. Katie C said

    Hi Oli
    Just read your earlier post about CFRD.. So sorry to hear that. About 10 years ago I went through the same thing (same phonecall, same Lisa!) and all those horrible thoughts.. I’d always thought well I have CF and that’s rubbish, but at LEAST I don’t have diabetes. And I totally agree that it is rubbish to have diabetes, but actually it may really help to have had it diagnosed. Prior to it being sorted, I couldn’t shake the infections, I felt totally exhausted all the time, but when I started on insulin, pretty darn quick I started feeling more chipper. And it really isn’t the big horror story deal that they make it out to be in all the press. It really is the least of my worries. So I hope that if you do get diagnosed, it really helps you feel a bit better to get treated properly.. In the meantime am thinking of you, hang in there (and I’ll have to buy the Mirror!) Katie x

  6. Suzie said

    We got a rubber mat and a stool type thingy (no, I’m not about to launch into a kinky story) in the bath for Chris and he was able to shower whilst in a sitting position. You may have already done this and if so ignore mother type interfering.

    Looking forward to mirror article, take care Oli.

    Sue x

  7. Anders said

    I agree with Emmie, surely your stardom should mean that there is someone ready to answer your call and wash your hair when you wish? Prehaps you’re just too vain? Nothing wrong with a bit of smellyness 😉

    You were brillaint on News24, i couldn’t dream of being as articulate. I know we are both on rocky boats and going through the same thing, but at different stages. Just thought i’d say i’m rooting for you Oli and i’m in constant admiration. Keep on truckin, just be sure to take the appropriate rest stops. Driving when drowzy can be dangerous.;) No drink driving either.

    Thinking of you

  8. Rubabes said

    Hi Oli,
    Just wanted to let you know I am sooo impressed with all that you do for the organ/donation campaign.
    It’s pointless I know saying fret not about CFRD but I shall say it anyway! These media stories are picked for dramatic impact & are generally of people who have no previous ill health so its a big deal for them, and they do tend to have abused themsleves alcohol/obesity/smoking etc. I have to try hard not to get really grumpy at the diabetes centre and start shouting ‘take control! exercise! lose some weight!’ God knows how disciplined us Cfers are so the diabetes stuff seems comparitively minor most of the time.
    BTW Personally I didn’t find your comments on the chest clinic negative – what’s wrong with saying how it is? Why should we lie about our lives to make other people feel better – this is not negativity but honesty, negativity is wingeing on which you certainly do not do!
    Better get off the old soap box now
    love Rubabes xx

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