Changing our health thinking

My pulse rate and oxygen monitor arrived yesterday and so far it has been an eye-opener. The maker says that it can be accurate within a 2% plus or minus range but even allowing for that, I have been rather surprised. A normal oxygen level is seen as anything between 95% and 100%, for one brief measurement I did hit 98% for a few seconds, but it didn’t last. I have been putting it on and off my finger at different points throughout yesterday and this morning and it appears my normal is between 90% and 94%. This morning I have been checking every 15 mins since I sat down here at my PC, it is solidly at 90%. The highest it has been and stayed there for a few minutes was 95%, but again that didn’t last for more than about 10 minutes then it dropped again. The best results have always been just after I have been up and about. The muscles in my chest often seem to be less tense during and after what is the closest I ever get to exercise, walking back and forwards through the flat. Every result that I have achieved over 95% were all straight after I had been on my feet. The longer I have been sat, the worse the muscles seem to get and down goes my oxygen levels in line with it.

Lying down is a great trigger for my chest muscles going into spasm and just before I go to sleep, I often feel really odd. I also have odd sensation in my face, hands, and feet. Basically, it is an intense tingling. What’s odd is that I get what feels like a twitch at the end of my nose and the triangle formed by my nose and mouth is the most intense area and often feels somewhat cold as well. There is often a buzz in my head and I sometimes even feel sick. I took the monitor to bed with me when I went for my afternoon nap and luckily, my body co-operated. My diaphragm and intercostal muscles started to tighten, the sensations quickly followed. Although it is on the edge of sleep I pulled myself back and looked at the monitor I had placed on my finger when I first lay down. The reading was 82%. I know that a one-off means nothing, so I settled down to repeat it last night. Nothing happened. I had to give up after 20 mins as I needed to go to sleep, but it was the first thing I checked when I woke to find it was at 89%. Those are not good results in anyone’s book. Although the opportunity hasn’t appeared yet, I often feel sick during the day. I know that it is one of the symptoms that goes hand in hand with my MS, but I think it might be worthwhile testing during the next spell that occurs.

I have less than 24 hours of checks, but even if it isn’t as accurate as hospital monitors are, it still shows that what I believed is true, my oxygen levels are low and all over the place depending on the tightness coming from my spasms. It does though cause me one of those quandaries, do I tell the consultant what I have been doing, or do I just tell him how I have been feeling, as that is what prompted me to buy it? I know from experience some doctors really don’t like us doing things like this. They seem to see it as their job and not something we should even be thinking about trying to do at home. Mind you, I am sure that they are more than aware of the fact that these monitors are now available and at a price most people can afford. That though doesn’t make the answer any easier.

The monitor of course also shows my heart rate, not that I think there is anything wrong with my heart, but it has been just as interesting seeing what it’s results have been. So OK the results could have been better, everyone’s could be better, but taking into account that I have spent the majority of my life sitting down for the last 10 years, a resting heart rate of 84 – 88 doesn’t seem too bad. What I was impressed by though was how much I could make it fall by just using my relaxation techniques for a couple of minutes. I have brought it as low as 78, but it jumps back up almost as soon as I stop, it’s not as though I really needed any proof that it’s works, as I knew that anyway, but there is the evidence if it was needed by any doubters. I think it could be quite interesting to test that one on a longer time scale as I really wasn’t looking at it when I was lying down. As you might have guessed, I am rather taken by my new toy. I really do love anything that measures, quantifies and proves anything. It could be why I so loved my last job, working with stats and building computer programs that made getting those results fast and efficiently, was right up my street. My analytical nature has been limited to my body for the last few years, so having a tool that helps, just makes things more interesting. I wonder what I could find out there if I looked?

I am sure if you asked a doctor that they would say that none of these monitors that you can now buy online, nor any of those health kits, are a good buy for anyone. I understand their concerns, as without the knowledge and research behind what the results can really mean, could cause a lot of distress for some people. I see things like the monitor as actually totally the opposite. When you know, I mean really know, once you have a diagnosis and you have spent time reading and absorbing medical sites as well as those intended for patients and their blogs. I believe gadgets actually put your mind at rest. That was what drove me into buying it in the first place. I have been feeling so ill and so wrong at times and my worry levels, which, of course, lead to stress, were high. I needed to know. Strangely, like most people, I don’t have a pet doctor in my cupboard. Not so strangely, doctors don’t like you calling ever thirty minutes to talk about your symptoms, especially in at three in the morning. If there are gadgets that can actually show you how whatever part of your body is worrying you, is working fine, how can that be bad. And if it shows you that you have something wrong that needs more investigation, well again that has to be good, as you are not blindly putting up with something that needs treating. I do understand their fears that we start self-diagnosing and then self-prescribing incorrectly. but that is a long way from what I am talking about.

I know that there are a lot of things that the conditions I have can cause problems with other areas and organs in my body. For example, COPD can actually cause huge problems with your kidneys. If there was a simple test that I could do, that would show if there was a problem forming and that I needed help, rather than my blindly going on until the damage is done, I could call the doctor. To me that is perfect sense, I think it would be to most people in this world who have COPD. By the way, my oedema isn’t even bad enough just now for me to bother taking my Furosemide. I am not a doctor or a nurse, but I am also not stupid, show me and I learn. With the medical system under such strain these days, I would have thought that any testing or even just monitoring, that those of us with chronic illness could carry out at home, that would mean we didn’t keep returning to our doctors, would sound like a good idea to everyone. I am sure that most of us are capable of taking our own pulse and blood pressure supplied with the correct and what are now cheap tools. I don’t know what the cost of a visit to our GP or even practice nurse is to the NHS, but I bet the amount of visits that many seem to have, would pay for them quickly. Rather than visiting the practice weekly, their visits could be reduced to monthly, or even reduced to just a phone call. On top of that, being in control of your own health, is empowering and that always makes you feel more positive about the whole thing.

I think the time is coming where we all have to start thinking about what we can actually do for ourselves, rather than what our doctors have to do for us. Yes, there will always be things we can’t do, but we are more capable than many of us think. It is not just us that has to accept the changes that technology has brought to our fingertips, doctors do as well. It is a matter of just getting used to it and accepting it as part of normal life. We and Doctors have done this in the past and we can all do it again. Think about it, when did you ever hear a doctor complaining that we aren’t capable of using and understand a thermometer, most other health monitors are no more complicated.

P.S. I have just been reminded that not everyone who reads is from the UK. I should have added this, an answer I left to a comment….

“In the UK we have the problem just now that our doctors are over whelmed. In some place you can’t get an appointment for up to a month. It has meant people presenting a the emergency department and overwhelming hospitals. Frequently some have had to close their doors for several hours to all emergencies. It is a huge issue in the UK.

The NHS can’t even find enough GP’s to cover some areas in the country at all. Reducing their work load is needed quickly as too many are leaving the profession as they simply can’t cope working 70 plus hours a week. Not to mention that the government now want’s surgery to be open 7 days a week instead of just 5. Something is needed and needed now.”

Please read my blog from 2 years ago – 06/09/2013 – Accept the mess

I really hope that I am not speaking in advance of something else going madly wrong, but my PC is now working, updated and back even better than it has been for months. I suppose all of us have that one item in their home that if it wasn’t there, they simply wouldn’t know what to do with themselves, well as you may have guessed this baby is mine. It really is total madness that as sentient……