I was a smoker. I started at the age of 16 when it was considered to be a cool and sophisticated thing to do. I didn’t smoke many in a day and then stopped at the age of 20 during my first pregnancy (because smoking made me feel sick) and period of breastfeeding. I know that I didn’t smoke during my second pregnancy either (20 months later) and period of breastfeeding, but I can’t remember whether I smoked between the two. However, I did smoke from then on quite heavily – around 20 a day for 12 years, including a short period when I worked as a driving instructor and smoked around 40 a day (you can imagine why!). After several unsuccessful attempts to stop, I finally managed it (with only chewing gum to help) in 1978 at the age of 35 (32 years ago). However, as was recently pointed out to me by a friend, I spent a good deal of time over many years in the proverbial, political ‘smoke-filled’ rooms.
The second relevant medical fact seems to be the persistent cough that I’ve had for a number of years. It used to be so bad at times (particularly at night) that my ribs would really ache. The GP was not able to suggest anything other than prescribing a simple linctus which didn’t help much. After trawling through the internet I found that dairy products were thought to increase the body’s production of mucous and so I cut out all dairy products and changed to soya milk. This did significantly reduce the coughing.
Thirdly, I’ve been prone to chest infections – 2 or 3 a year for the last 3 years, culminating in pneumonia last winter.
Apart from all the above, I’ve always considered myself to be in general good health – fit, active and strong, with lots of energy.
My reason for starting this blog is two-fold. Firstly, it would be helpful for me if family and friends could have access to the latest news without me having to update people at the start of every conversation. We could then talk about more interesting things than what’s happening to my body. Secondly, I’ve been concerned about the lack of helpful, relevant information about what I can expect to happen (that is, practical, statistical information as opposed to the emotional experiential information from other patients) and feel sure that this kind of information should be compiled both for others in this situation and for medical researchers.