Friday, 22 July 2011

Iron Lung part 2


Reading between the lines on here, you may be able to see that my "hill fitness" has been suffering somewhat of late. Since being on my winter skills course a couple of years ago with the excellent Kendal Mountaineering Services I noticed a dramatic downturn in my output and I've struggled really to get it back to what I would say is my "normal" level of fitness.

Last Christmas there, I was quite ill with a chest infection which ended up being bad enough for me to actually get off my arse and go see the doctor. I told him about my perceived drop in lung function and how it had been quietly there for the last wee while but he wasn't really able to give a proper diagnosis due to the chest infection.

Asthma was suspected though and I was given some anti-biotics to fight said chest infection, the usual brown/blue Asthma inhalers were dispensed and I was sent on my way. When I was over the chest infection I was supposed to go back and see him about the suspected Asthma. Being the sort who doesn't see the doctor on a regular basis for every wee sniffle I procrastinated and didn't go back until the wife nagged me into it. The moaning from me about my performance on my last outing was probably the trigger for the nagging I suspect...

Anyway, 3 weeks ago my lung function (FEV 1 and another test I can't remember the name of) was tested properly by the nurse who gave me a puzzled look when reading the results from the machine. "Lung age 93" she said!! Apparently the graph was the correct shape for an asthma sufferer but should however, be much larger for a man of my youth. She asked me to make an appointment for a second opinion with another doctor who she thought would know more about this sort of thing.

2 weeks ago I went to see this other doctor who took some blood samples and then sent me off up to the local hospital for some chest X-rays.

On Wednesday this week I went back to see the doctor as my test results had returned. I was told that he suspects that I either have or have had Sarcoidosis. Apparently the blood samples were fine, although there were some levels of stuff (I forget what exactly) that although in the "normal range" were right at the top of the range. The X-ray's were however a different story. There was scarring or collapsed areas on both lungs apparent and the two pipes at the top that connect the two lungs together are inflamed or damaged in some way. He's given me a referral to the respiratory clinic for a more detailed diagnosis.

I'm not really sure why I'm putting this on the blog. I'm not looking for sympathy. I don't feel what I would call properly ill or anything. It doesn't affect my normal day to day life. I only really notice that something is "not quite right" when I'm taxing my body when hitting the steeper stuff. I suppose I just want it written down somewhere as I sit here and ponder it, and as this place is generally about the steep stuff, it somehow seems appropriate to me to be on here.

I suppose I just have to wait and see what the specialists say and see what happens. I won't let it stop me from being in the hills but I suspect that I may just have to accept that I'm not as capable as I used to be and shorten my routes a little. It means though that I can stop beating my self up when I compare my "hill fitness" to that of others and as long as I don't get any worse I can relax about being in the hills and that's definitely a good thing.



  1. Very sorry to hear this. Those who don't suffer from autoimmune problems should be grateful. Thank you for the heads up on sarcoidosis, which I had never heard of before. I hope your recovery is complete and soon.

    Next time someone at work criticises a colleague for taking time off with ill health and boasts that they have never taken a day off, we should all be aggressively rude.

  2. Sounds a bit rubbish Sandy.

    Comforting to note though that you also adopt the traditional Scottish male approach of "putting aff going to the doctor until a responsible adult makes you".


  3. It still might not be Sarcoidosisis but it's what the doctor thinks it is. I will have to wait for the specialists opinion to confirm though. It's quite rare though, the doc I spoke to reckoned he'd only diagnosed it about 4 times in 10 years.

    As I said though it doesn't affect me on a day to day basis only really when I'm working hard. I suppose if I was of the "couch potato" sort it may never have been noticed!

    One half of me is glad something has been found that explains my poorer performance of late and the other half is just hoping that it's something that isn't going to get worse or can at least be treated.

    Zed, I don't criticise folk for taking time off who are genuinely ill but I definitely fall into the "never takes a day off" category.

    Scott, I reckon I've been at the doctors more times these past few months than I've been in the last ten years! I mentioned this to him when I was there and he told me that the national average for doctors appointments was around 2.5 a year. He then said it was people like me who keep that number so low as otherwise it would be about 7 or 8 a year!!

  4. That's rotten luck Sandy. It's good that you are getting to the bottom of it though. Just take it steady and don't go chasing the guys up at the front. Carry the whisky - they will have to wait for you.

  5. Good advice Alan, I usually carry a wee drop or two...for medicinal/morale purposes of course.

    It'll be a few weeks I reckon before I get an appointment with the respiritory clinic but we'll wait and and see (with as positive an outlook as possible) what happens.


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