Monday, October 24, 2011

'Flu and me

Since I had a significant amount of radiation to my oesophagus and trachea, neither of these are quite what they once were. Radiation results in scarring and so the usual functions of these very important little tubes are somewhat impaired. In particular, I predictably get acid reflux if I bend over too quickly after eating (and at random other times), coughing often turns into small vomits, and I get chest infections every time I have the 'flu. The first two are because my oesophagus is less effective at keeping things down in my stomach, but the third is because my trachea is less effective at keeping phlegm up in my sinuses (and my cough reflex kicks in too late - I don't cough when the stuff is running down the back of my throat, but then get persistent coughs for weeks afterwards).

I also get the impression that my immune system is not what it once was (or perhaps it is just being in a different (and colder) country), which means I manage to pick up every 'flu that comes around and they knock me out for longer. When combined with the failure of my body to keep fluid out of my lungs, the result is that I've probably taken more antibiotics for chest infections in the last few years than the rest of my life's antibiotic consumption put together.

As antibiotic overuse is a very serious global issue, I am aware that I don't wish to be part of the problem, yet doctors keep telling me that they have no hesitation in prescribing such drugs in my case. After the latest iteration of 'flu plus chest infection, from which I am currently recovering, I am now even eligible for the 'flu shot each year here in the UK along with other vulnerable people such as the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart or lung conditions.

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