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.

Isn’t life risky?

I got an email from my GP last week asking me to make an appointment for a blood test because in October 2019 I’d been perceived as being of medium risk of developing diabetes type 2. They’d given me a blood test then and they said that it was time to repeat it.

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5 life (career) changing decisions

Everyone’s life is the result of a mix of chance and decisions. You can’t do much about chance but it’s the decisions you make which map out your life. I reckon that there’s five decision which I’ve taken which, successively, have meant that I didn’t become an academic, a long term oil industry employee (and very possibly an American citizen God forbid), an old Asian hand, a senior Dow Chemical manager or a salary man through to retirement. 

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My mother didn’t have a happy life

I don’t mean that it was uniformly unhappy but after a promising start she suffered a misfortune which, despite her undoubted mental strength and determination, was to blight the rest of her life.

Audrey Vickers was born in 1923 and as far as I know enjoyed a happy childhood in a stable and loving but fairly strict family environment. Her father was a successful butcher and the family lived ‘over the shop’ in Wepre Buildings in Connah’s Quay. She went to the same schools, and was taught by some of the same teachers as me: Dee Road Infants, Custom House Lane County Primary and then Hawarden Grammar. From school she went to teachers training college as was the norm in those days for many girls who’d made it through to the 6th form. She secured a place at IM Marsh in Liverpool.

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Leaders are only as good as their teams

The All Stars, Lensbury’s 2nd rugby team: I’ve always enjoyed sport, as a spectator and a participant. Unfortunately I’ve never been that good at it and in school, although I’d have happily swapped a few academic grades for a place on the school team, I never got the chance. However later on, first at college and then when I started to work, I found that enthusiasm was a pretty good substitute for ability. It wouldn’t get you into the first team but at least it got you onto a team sheet. Then I chanced on the discovery that if you would take on the chore of organising you would not only secure your position but you could even become captain, choose your position and take all the penalties! And so I became a ‘professional’ second team captain and my first shot at that was in the early 70s when I played for and captained the 2nd XV at Lensbury, the sports club of Shell in London where I worked.

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5 German cities

the old town hall in Munich; it’s now the toy museum

They’re not the most interesting German cities and this is certainly not any sort of in depth profile of them but it’s the five cities which give me good memories. It helps that I spent 13 years working in the chemicals industry in Europe and of course three of the biggest chemical companies were German and there were many others besides.

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