Living off the NHS

As if my angioplasty wasn’t enough of a drain on the already stretched NHS finances I’ve been on a drug regimen since which I’m sure isn’t exactly low cost. I’m down to four medicines now, two each morning and evening, but started on six and then went up to seven. I thought it would be useful, maybe interesting, to list them and perhaps understand their role in keeping me healthy and prolonging my life.

Most of the technical information included below and shown in quotes is taken from

1 Lansoprazole

‘Lansoprazole is a proton pump inhibitor. It decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Lansoprazole is used to treat and prevent stomach and intestinal ulcers, erosive esophagitis (damage to the esophagus from stomach acid), and other conditions involving excessive stomach acid such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome’.

I started off taking one tablet very first thing each morning but when I reported a recurrent discomfort akin to heart burn I added an evening dose but went back to one after six months. At my 12 month review we, my GP and I, agreed to stop altogether but a mild heartburn returned so I went back to one tablet every other day. Now after my 24 month review we’ve stopped again and so far I seem to be doing OK.

The next tablets I take after breakfast.

2 aspirin

‘Aspirin is a salicylate. It works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain, fever, and inflammation. Aspirin is used to treat pain, and reduce fever or inflammation. It is sometimes used to treat or prevent heart attacks, strokes, and chest pain (angina)’.

This is probably the one medicine which is not bankrupting the NHS!

3 Clopidogrel

‘Clopidogrel is used to lower the risk of having a stroke, blood clot, or serious heart problem after a heart attack, severe chest pain (angina) or circulation problems’.

The plan was to take Clopidogrel for just 12 months and that’s what I did.

4 Amlodipine

‘Amlodipine is a calcium channel blocker that dilates (widens) blood vessels and improves blood flow. Amlodipine is used to treat chest pain (angina) and other conditions caused by coronary artery disease. Amlodipine is also used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Lowering blood pressure may lower the risk of a stroke or heart attack’.

As long as it does what it says on the can I’ll keep taking the tablets!

5 Bisoprolol

‘Bisoprolol is a beta-blocker that affects the heart and circulation (blood flow through arteries and veins). Bisoprolol is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure)’.

Bisoprolol was not a part of the initial prescription but was added at a low level just afterwards. The dose was doubled when my blood pressure increased a month or so later. Since then by blood pressure has been in a good place, generally 120/60, but my GP felt that my heart rate, in the mid 40s, was too low. At my 24 month review we’ve agreed to stop this medicine and so far so good: blood pressure is unchanged and heart rate is now over 50. There should also be one benefit: no more stabbing muscle pains in the night!

The next tablets I take just before going to bed.

6 Ramipril

‘Ramipril is an ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor. Ramipril is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) or congestive heart failure, and to improve survival after a heart attack’.

Please refer to the comment under Amlodipine.

7 Atorvastatin

‘Atorvastatin belongs to a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors or ‘statins’. Atorvastatin is used together with diet to lower blood levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL), to increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, HDL), and to lower triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood)’.

There’s a bit of a story here. A few years ago my GP recommend that I start taking a statin because I had high cholesterol and that significantly raised my risk of having a heart attack. I declined and we know what happened next. The only reason that my right coronary artery was blocked and needed a stent was the high my high cholesterol level. That’s why I’m perfectly happy to take such drugs now and would not take the earlier decision in the way that I did again.

As it says in the blurb above ‘together with diet’. I have dramatically reduced my intake of saturated fat which largely means no cheese, no fish & chips and no bacon butties. The net result is that all my cholesterol and triglyceride levels are now good. It also means that I’ve lost 5kg (down from 70kg) which is probably also good news.

There’s one more and that’s my GTN spray which I’ve so far not had to use. This is what the NHS web-site says about it:

Glyceryl trinitrate, or GTN, is a type of medicine called a nitrate. It is used to treat angina (chest pain). It can help stop chest pain if an angina attack has already started. It can also help to prevent them from starting.

Fortunately I’ve never had to use it

At my 24 month review I did tell my GP that although I generally feel pretty good there are days when I just feel that my body is responding to too many pharmaceuticals. I can’t say why, it’s just a feeling. We have now got down to just four and so far that feels more comfortable. I just hope that the accountants at the NHS are felling the benefit too.

Photo of the Month: Jun 2021

I offer this shot of King’s College Chapel for PotM with some trepidation. Firstly because it’s a cliché and secondly because it’s been subject to a lot more post-processing than is my normal practice.

It was a summer’s evening and I’d turned up for an event an hour early so I had the opportunity to just walk around and enjoy Cambridge. I was drawn to this shot by the cows but the shot is really of the chapel.

The photo was taken with my Sony Experia mobile phone, 1/125th at f2.0 and ISO 40 with a focal length of 4.4mm. 

In post-processing I first of all gave it a severe crop and then got rid of some temporary fencing in the foreground. I added a sky with some colour and increased the texture of the buildings. As I said, quite a lot of post-processing. Check out the original.

This is my first phone PotM for some time and you can see its limitations. The lack of resolution is not displeasing but it does look a little more like a painting than a photograph.

The story of my life, one year at a time: 2011

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to build a story of my life one year at a time so I decided to make it just a little easy by starting with 2011. It’s ‘easy’ because it’s only ten years ago, because I’ve got a pretty good digital photography record and because my working notes seem pretty comprehensive. I can probably complement these with my credit card account and by reference to Juni’s diary in which she records our meals. Plus of course for context there is the Internet and the power of Google et al.

Continue reading

Photo of the month: May 2021

It’s been a good month for photography with several candidates for PotM. Then when I’d chosen this one I was in two minds whether or not to post the version with a few, very minor, post processing adjustments. In the end I’ve decided to go for it. Click here for a copy of the plain unvarnished version

This is a photo of good friend Stuart Lothian who’s just been shopping at Michael’s fruit and veg ‘stall’ on Park Lane and it’s confirmation yet again that it’s always carrying your with camera with you.

The photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/100th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 170mm. As mentioned above there’s been a little light post-processing and a square crop.

Five great upgrades

I’m fortunate but I’ve also got to apologise. I’m fortunate in that I’ve enjoyed lots of interesting business travel often in business or even first class. At one time I had three gold cards: with BA, KLM and SAS which meant that even when I was travelling economy I still got to avoid the long economy class check-in queues and was able to use the business class lounges.

Continue reading