Cough, cough. Splutter,splutter. I have had a silly cough for the last four weeks (yes, I repeat four weeks). When I say "silly" cough, I mean one of those tickly sort of coughs, like being fanned with a feather at the back of the throat. Debilitating - yes. Life-threatening - no. Not a chesty-cough (my best friend, by the way, thinks that sounds like the name of a Russian), but irritating nevertheless. It started the day after Boxing Day and I have been coughing ever since. I had given it enough time to develop into a cold or flu or even TB, or to go away completely. To add fuel to the flames, about two weeks ago, it started to hurt when I coughed, so that I had to hold onto my right side before I could dare to cough. If I didn't get to hold my side in time, the most awful pain shot across my ribs! I did not want to bother my doctor unnecessarily with "just a cough virus" and I had already convinced myself that I had probably torn a ligament or a muscle, as there was no pain when I breathed and it did not seem related to the lungs at all. I started to take paracetamol in the morning to ease the rib pain, but then discovered my side hurt when I lay on it at night. So after four weeks of coughing and two weeks of rib pain, I decided perhaps I had better go to the doctor after all, as there was no sign of either symptom clearing up this side of Easter or even next Christmas.
My GP thankfully confirmed my own diagnosis (so nice when they do that!) .... " One of those viruses doing the rounds which are particularly persistent. Come back in a few weeks if you still have it, but it should go away eventually." (When? Easter or summer or 2010?) She also confirmed that I had more than likely pulled a muscle in the chest wall and the pain will wear off eventually, but advised I should keep taking the tablets - paracetamol or ibuprofen.
She then went on to look at the results of my Civil Service medical I had gone to, back in November. (I had received the results a few weeks ago through the post and I had forwarded on a second set of results specifically intended for her.) From these results, it would seem my cholesterol level is a little too high, so much so that she wants to start me on taking statins. I ventured that on receiving the results I had already made up my mind to start a low-fat diet as I could easily afford to shed a stone or at most two stones in weight, having used comfort-eating as my solace during these last few crazy years. But she was adamant that losing weight would make no difference to the cholesterol levels at all. Also she imparted that once you start taking statins you have to stay on them for life, as to stop would mean the cholesterol levels would rise to levels higher than when you started taking them in the first place. She gave me a prescription and urged me to start straight away as this really was the best way to reduce cholesterol and prevent any future risk of heart attacks and strokes. She also gave me a blood test form to have another fasting blood test in 8 weeks' time- presumably to monitor whether the statins were doing their job properly. Having read up on statins, I am a little nervous to even start because
i) I will then need to continue with them FOREVER (not something I like the idea of);
ii) I am worried about the side effects I may get - muscle pain, amnesia, memory loss and Parkinsons being just a few of them (something I like the idea of even less)!!
On the other hand, if it prevents heart attacks and strokes (which have run in my family), then that would be a good thing. I need to weigh all this up, but seeking the reassurance of my cough not being something dire has resulted in an even more thought-provoking diagnosis.
Before I finish, I want to highlight the TV programme which Doglover so very kindly mentioned in his comment on my previous post. For those of you in the UK who might want to understand the problems of alcoholism a little more, there is a TV programme on ITV on Monday 26th January at 8pm about the former TV presenter, Ed Mitchell, who drank himself out of a job and ended up on a bench on Brighton seafront without friends or family. He eventually got to rehab and is now apparently sober. But there's a long road for his wife and two children to travel before they regain their trust in him. I shall certainly watch it. I have no idea whether his story is similar to the one in our household, but he is certainly in the same line of business as Greg was and from what I have heard already, there may be quite a few similarities. I'll let you know once the programme has been aired. Incidentally,I have still to find out what caused last week's lapse, but find out, I will.
Meanwhile, cough, cough. Splutter,splutter. Ouch,ouch.