Thursday, January 22, 2015

Change Down a Gear

Most people that have driven a car with a manual gearbox will be familiar with the sound the engine makes when you drop down a gear and release the clutch. In a regular car it can sound like quite a racket. In a good car it sounds like a beast, screeching and roaring, struggling to stay in control.

In a '78 Tony Conway...changing down a gear is a wheezier affair. 

I have had a noticeably harder time with my breathing. Maybe its the cooler temperatures and drier air that have triggered some respiratory distress. Then again, maybe it's just ALS.

I have some new medical equipment now; a nebulizer, a suction machine, and my own supply of oxygen.

My medicines have changed too.

I tried a small dose of morphine today. Apparently, people can have an adverse reaction to morphine, so I had a small test dose in the  presence of my hospice nurse to make sure I could tolerate the drug. I'm disappointed to report that I did not gain the ability to fly, but I suppose that means I can tolerate the drug.

This all began when a routine examination discovered a little congestion in my throat, but my lungs were clear. I was introduced to the nebulizer in the hope it would relieve some of my throat congestion. Fixing that problem creates another; after clearing my throat I'm not always in a good position to get the crud out of my mouth. That's the reason for the small suction machine.

Earlier this week, I went through what I can only describe as an asthma attack, at 3am. If you want to know what that feels like, I recommend you try breathing through a thin straw. You'll quickly realize that you aren't getting enough air in your lungs, so you modify the way you breathe to gasp in air. Except you cant gasp in air, since you windpipe is still constricted. Add the fact that I'm working with lungs that function at about a third of what they should, and I'm sure you can get a sense of my level of anxiety.

I have new medical gadgets now. I also have a much better way to tackle any future breathing problems. And while that may be reassuring now, I find it hard not to think of the struggle that lies ahead for my lungs.

How many gears are in a '78 Conway anyway?


  1. I don't know how you can find the humour in these situations but you do, Tony.

    It is ok to vent, just as you did about the school leave issue for your wife, when you are describing the personal discomforts you are experiencing and the fears that arrive with them.

    It must have a disheartening effect to acknowledge every noticeable deterioration and I know you want to put a brave face on it and think of the others who are looking after you but.....

    When you are here and speaking to your friends and those of us that are not so well known to you but who are trying to stay in touch, then it is more than ok to let out the howls now and again. What is happening to you is unjust, unfair and not at all right. You are entitled to call it for every bad name you can think of.

    We will understand and we will feel the same way.

    We are about to find out how many gears there are in a 78 Conway. I hope that a combination of re-conditioning work and careful handling will see you over the next hill.

    Good luck and take care.

  2. Hi,Tony.

    Nicely put,mate! In the UK,automatics are still rare,we can rattle through the gears to our heart's content. To continue your analogy what you are doing is a 'de-coke'

    Necessary for the engine,preventing and removing build-up of unwanted deposits. A good excuse for a bit of boy-racing back in the day,not so much fun in my works van!

    Coke,morphine,boy-racers. Wrong site,I think! Stay strong,bud!!

  3. Hi Tony
    Old joke :
    What gear were you in at the time of the accident ? Said the officer.
    Levi jeans and Ben Sherman shirt said Tom.

  4. toni...hamilton tim posted this on cqn its long but worth it..

    AS a fundraising and tribute match takes place at Ibrox Stadium this Sunday, Celtic FC Foundation, the charitable arm of Celtic Football Club, today announced that it is to make a £10,000 donation in support of Fernando Ricksen, his family and Motor Neurone Disease Association Scotland.
    The match takes place following the sad announcement in 2013 that Fernando Ricksen had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
    Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are pleased to be able to make a donation which will assist both Fernando’s family and MND Scotland.
    “At Celtic, unfortunately we are all too familiar with MND and its devastating effects. Jimmy Johnstone, the man voted Celtic’s greatest ever player, fought bravely against this illness as did former player John Cushley, someone who gave so many years’ service to the Club.
    “Through Celtic FC Foundation and our wider charitable work, we are also in contact with a number of supporters who are facing this disease. We have had a long association with charities which work to tackle MND and through this event we are pleased to be able to offer our support again.
    “We would like also to take this opportunity to send our thoughts and best wishes to Fernando and his family.”
    Tony Hamilton, Chief Executive of Celtic FC Foundation, added: “Celtic FC Foundation aims to make a positive difference in areas of Health, Equality, Learning and Poverty whenever and wherever we can be of assistance.
    “Celtic has been a club for all people since its formation and an inherent charitable dimension is something which has characterised our Club from day one.
    “We are delighted that today this ethos remains as strong as ever, with the Foundation raising and distributing over £10million in recent years and thousands of people receiving support through local, national and international initiatives.
    “With Health being one of our key areas of activity, we are delighted to make this donation in relation to Sunday’s match.”

  5. The motorcar analogy is an interesting one Tony, for you are a car built in the UK in the 70's. These vehicles were a badly built mess, usually ugly and unreliable. There are not many left now and those which do exist are difficult to start in the cold weather, they leak fluid and are prone to make odd farting noises when you least expect it. Sound familiar? :-)
    Yet it is their quirky nature and almost human characteristics which mean that these rusty leaky old crocks have a large following of avid fans. Sound familiar? :-)