Day Trip To Bridgwater

Last Friday we jumped in the car to drive down to Somerset and see our daughter and grandson. It is about 90 miles and quite a pleasant journey down to Newport and then onwards to Bristol and the M5.

Well, it didn’t start very well.

Less than five miles from home we joined a short queue of traffic going very slowly. The cause was a pair of travellers’ caravans being pulled by a single horse. They were the traditional caravans, and they are really nice to see…

…but they were going very slowly….

…and the road has very few passing places.

Anyway, we crawled along, and the traffic was building up behind us, and no one ahead appeared to be making attempts to overtake. Then we realised the problem was even worse, as there was a van following the second caravan that was a part of their convoy. The two caravans and the motor van were quite close together meaning that any overtaking would have to be all three of them.

We were following a large work’s vehicle, so our view of the road ahead was almost impossible, but madness took over eventually with some drivers behind us risking their lives (and others) by overtaking not just the travellers’ vehicles, but several other cars as well. Finally the madness ended with a full blown lorry carrying trees took on the 50 to 60 metre overtake with his horn sounding.

This seemed to spur on the others in front to make some headway, and eventually we got to the front of the queue and passed them.

Now we discovered there were actually three more traveller families on pony and traps, and they were close together as well. At least it didn’t take us too long to get by and we sped up to our normal pace.

This queue had taken about twenty minutes to get past.

I have no objection to travellers, especially these people with more traditional transport, but they weren’t doing their reputation any good. We passed by a number of parking areas where they could have pulled in, and were too close together to allow safe overtaking.

Anyway, the blood pressure went back down and our journey went so much more smoothly. Sadly the M5 was very busy and the last 30 miles of our trip was again very slow.

When we did arrive at our daughter’s house we had a lovely two or three hours catching up on what has been happening. Our grandson grows so quickly and he was showing off all the things he can now do. He started at a proper school two weeks ago and seems to be enjoying every minute.

Lynsey cooked us a lovely meal, and then we watched as Oliver make his first attempts on his bicycle without stabilisers. It didn’t go too successfully that evening, but the next day we had a short video clip on Facebook showing him cycling properly.

It was time to go home and we set off again up the M5 towards Bristol. The traffic was nowhere near as bad although it was busy around the city. By the time we got home we were both tired and my legs were aching from sitting in the car for so long.

There wasn’t very long before we had our supper before getting an early night.

As I sat munching a small cheese sandwich, I noticed what I thought was a crumb of chees on the plate and popped it into my mouth. As I bit into it I realised it was not cheese, it was my statin pill.

Too late to do anything about it, I had to complete the chewing and swallowing process.

I can now warn everyone that statins are FOUL!!!

I was left with a disgusting taste in  my mouth for more than an hour.

Along with my unplanned visit to the hospital, there have been a few uncomfortable moments this week.

Oh, and the evenings are getting dark so very quick, and it is feeling much colder.

It was a superb summer though!

Big Lungs and Squirty Blood

Monday 10th September and we are up early to finish packing before we go to Cornwall for a few days. The suitcases were in the hall ready to be out in the car. Deb and I planned to leave just after 10:00 but our plans changed very quickly.

On the Sunday I had been digging in the garden and (as usual) did too much and my chest and back were a little sore. Too much digging I thought and tried to forget about it. But as we were about to pack the car, I just couldn’t forget about the pain that was making it difficult to breathe.

I was no longer sure it was a muscular reaction and rang the NHS helpline for advice.

Twenty minutes later the paramedics arrived and connected me up for an ECG.

They couldn’t find any suspicious heart issues, but they were not taking any chances, and by 10:00 I was in the A&E department of Hereford hospital.

We were not going to Cornwall.

For the next six hours the amazing NHS system took me over. I had for ECG checks, I had blood taken, and I was sent for a chest X-ray.

The X-ray was clear although the radiographer told me I had Big Lungs. The first picture he took was with the plate in portrait mode, but he had to take a second one in landscape mode to capture a complete look at my lungs.

From A&E I was moved on to the CAU (Clinical Assessment Unit) where the doctor finally confirmed there  no sign f any heart problems, and my chest was clear of any obvious issues.

With my heart passed  as OK, he thoughts now moved to a  possible clot in my lungs, and it was time for a CT scan. I needed a cannula put it my arm for this to allow a dye (or some sort of liquid) to be sent through my body during the scan. As the doctor inserted the cannula, I squirted a jet of blood over my arm, the pillow, and the doctor.


I sat and waited until the CT scanner was ready for me.

Morning coffee had been forgotten, and so was lunch, but with my CT scan was completed by mid-afternoon allowing Deb and I to finally relax a little with some biscuits and a welcomed cup of coffee.

After six and a half hours from the time the paramedics first arrived, my CT results showed me clear of any issues, and the doctor let me go home.

It was simply a muscular problem.

I felt a little bit of a fraud that I had taken up so much time and resource of the NHS, but I was still in serious pain…

… but very relieved that I was not seriously ill.

Back home I relaxed with more pain killers and quietly sulked about missing our trip to Cornwall to see my family and friends, but it was definitely the right thing to do to check out what was wrong with me.

We can go to Cornwall another day.

I intend to do very little for a couple of days to relax and let my chest muscles recover.


My Heart’s Age

This is aimed at people reading my blog in Britain.

Someone in the invisible world of statistics has decided that a vast percentage of adults in Britain have a heart that is older than their real age.

We have high blood pressure, we are overweight, we eat the wrong food and don’t do enough exercise.

To prove their statistics they have released a self checking survey online where you give basic information about height, weight, blood pressure if known and come up with a magical figure that is supposedly the age of your heart.

For the that vast percentage of people, the result shows that their heart age is higher, even much higher, than their actual age.

My wife used the calculator and gave truthful figures based on what she knew. The result was an age of 79 compared to her real age of 62.
This shocked her, and shocked me because I know she is quite a fit lady if a little bit over the recommended weight for her height and size. One of the reasons the heart age was so high was that she didn’t know which blood pressure figure they wanted, so said “don’t know”.

I did mine.

My heart is also 79 compared to my 67 years.

I am just two pounds overweight, so my BMI was 25.3. I have already lost seven pounds in recent weeks and still aiming to lose a little more weight, and I exercise quite regularly. The survey doesn’t ask for this sort of information. It simply says go on a diet and do more exercise.

When it asked for my blood pressure I was honest and gave it what I believe is its worst figure. Hence it decided I am a in major trouble. In reality my blood pressure is often much lower and it is regularly checked by my GP (along with my weight) and he has never exclaimed any warnings to do something about my lifestyle.

As well as the heart age figure, the survey states that with a heart of this age, I am likely to have a heart attack or a stroke before I am 81. At first glance at the way it was written, I mistook it to mean I was due to have one of these major issues in the next two years.

I know the survey is supposed to make people aware of issues in an attempt to make people react and do something about their health, but the questions have no leeway and are perhaps weighted to give startling and downright scary results.

Hence they have proved their statement about such a high number of people have serious problems.

I personally believe that this is a statistical toy that has been released into the public domain without proper checks of its accuracy.

Yes, I know Britain has serious weight and lifestyle issues, and we need to do something quickly, but this is a scary survey with little or consideration for what the person might understand from the results.