21/4/17 – A Different Kind of Holiday

21/4/17

Day 258

177.7

You may or may not have noticed I’ve been quiet for a while, if you’re paying attention (which I’m fairly sure you’re not, there’s far better things to do than watch whether or not I’m currently rambling!), then you’ll know my last post was nearly a month ago. There’s several reasons for that.

Firstly, I had some news & wasn’t sure how to process it. The combination of diet & drugs (particularly a new superdrug called Entresto) have helped my heart so much it’s improved it’s function by around 15%. Fabulous news, I grant you, and my first reaction was happy tears & elation! But then my brain kicked into overdrive. Does that mean I’ll be discharged completely? Would the wonderful heart team not have time for me any more now there was people so much sicker than me? Writing it down it sounds incredibly selfish. Take the good news for fucks sake Lauren. Time to give myself a mental kick up the arse.

And then, within a week, all of a sudden I’m wheezing with every step again, my ankles once again turned into cankles and sleeping even remotely lying down becomes a challenge once more.

Why?! Why when I’ve just had such good news is my body betraying me?! Does it mean they were wrong about my heart function improving? Has it got worse again? My local heart failure nurse was at a loss, and I started to wonder if I was imagining my symptoms. I determined to watch & wait, to see if the increased medication to rid me of retained water would help.

And then the time for our (becoming traditional) Easter break in Scotland came around. Last year we did it in a caravan, which we adored! We saw the Northern Lights and worked our way around the sights. But it was hard work. There was 4 of us; Mr W, H, and our fab friend N. Unfortunately the 3 adults all have different health problems, but what one of us couldn’t do, one of the others probably could. H took up the slack & between us we did it. We did 10 days, maxing & overdosing on medication, and it took us 3 weeks to recover. I don’t regret a thing.

This year the caravan has gone to the great campsite in the sky, it was just the 3 of us, and we decided to have a little bit of luxury. It was to be my very first 2 week holiday as an adult, and I was more excited than a child in a sweet shop! And without the caravan, awning etc to contend with, how much easier it was going to be! A week in a beautiful cottage over the border in Dumfries (complete with open fire, bliss!), then a week in a b&b at the top of the Cairngorms. I pushed my niggles about my symptons to the back of my mind & resolved to deal with them when we got back if they were still a problem.

With a stop in Blackburn on the first night to visit the in-laws, and to break up the journey, we started on our way. The cottage was gorgeous, the gate lodge to an estate surrounded by a garden bursting with daffodils and with as much coal & wood as we could use on the fire. We explored, we cooked on the fire, we fussed reindeers & goats & found the most incredible natural marine aquarium where we fell in love with a baby shark called Fred.

But things were different. Despite it being easier without the caravan, both mine & Mr W’s health was struggling despite maxing out on meds like last year. Our days consisted of 80% driving, with frequent stops to try & combat stiffness & aches, with the other 20% actually doing things. It didn’t matter, the scenery was stunning, and we nattered & laughed in the car, the three of us gelling as a family better than ever with no internet to distract typical teenager H. However, come day 5 we all knew we weren’t going to last the second week. We were faced with the decision to either go home at the end of the first week, or try or a few days at our second stop. The idea of not having the second week at all depressed all three of us, so we decided to go for just 3 nights, but if things got worse we would rethink.

I am so glad we went. The b&b was superb, family run & helpful beyond words. The bed was amazing (and HUGE!!) and the first night there we got the best night’s sleep we’d had since leaving home. Recharged & thankful, we spent our days wisely, Loch Ness first, driving down it’s east bank & stopping at a pub with the most scenic views making friends with the only other people in there, then managed to catch some faint Aurora Borealis in the evening.

The second day we went to visit the Queen at Balmoral. With our sensible heads on we borrowed mobility scooters to get round the grounds, despite my misgivings towards them being a step towards the dreaded wheelchair. It was the best decision we made all holiday, it allowed us to enjoy the day without one or other of us feeling guilty about not being able to make it round, and in quiet areas we raced each other (and H)! I’m not saying I’m ready to give in & use one permanently, but I will admit they have a better place in my head for possible future use.

We’re back home now, and today I saw my cardiologist. She’s answered my questions, reassured me it’s not my imagination, and sent me back to the marvellous ladies at the Shine Heart Clinic to get me sorted. In her words; it’s a blip. We were right to come home early, but it doesn’t mean my heart is as knackered as it was before diagnosis & treatment.

So now I have a health plan again, and I also have wonderful, healing memories of a relaxed & stunning holiday where the sun shone every day. And the bonus? Because we loved our b&b so much, and we have so much still to see, we have the most fantastic excuse for another holiday in beautiful, stark, cold, breathtaking Scotland.

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