health

Recovery from back pain back in 2012

I don’t feel inspired to write anything this week, but have about 35 blogs partially written.  Here is one written back in 2012 that I didn’t get around to publishing.

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On Thursday 18th October, 2012 I was coughing so badly, as previously described, that the coughing caused back damage, and from then on any coughing was painful. This blog is about dealing with and recovering from back pain.

Symptoms:

Lower back pain, aggravated when coughing.  My stomach expanded by about 6cm, even though my weight didn’t change.

History:

I  injured my back during a particularly bad coughing fit, when I was doubled over. At the hospital visit I had been X-rayed, so I knew my back pain was strained muscles. The general idea from both doctors I saw at the hospital was to treat and cure the cough, and thus the cause of continual back pain will be removed and the back will be able to recover. I was prescribed these medicines (on the right side side) for my back.

so many medicines!!!

Adhesive patch to be attached to painful area twice a day

Celebrex – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – twice a day

Panadol – to take when Celebrex wears off

Recovery:

I used the patches for about 10 days, until I used them all. I didn’t notice them helping, but when I had used them all, I noticed the difference  not having them. So it seems they were effective in reducing pain.  They seem to slow release Panadol directly into the skin above the damage.

The Celebrex didn’t seem to work, and after reading about its possible side effects I soon stopped taking it. Instead I took Ibuprofen as directed on the box, which was three times a day.  After two weeks I reduced the dosage to one or at most two per day.

I was scared to go to bed at night, as it was very painful getting into and out of bed, and also changing positions in bed. So I decided to sleep sitting in a reclining position, using chair or sofa arms and my leg muscles to get up.  Thus I could sleep without causing more damage to my back, and my recovery accelerated. However, I woke several times during the night and got up and walked around, as I was basically sleeping in one position, and thought it a good idea to move a bit.

After a week of sleeping sitting I was able to get into bed again, first sleeping partially sitting up for a couple of nights, and then actually lying down. I can now get into and out of bed, and change positions, slowly, without pain.

So now it’s the 18th day, and I am generally improving gradually each day, being able to lift slightly heavier things, and move a bit more flexibly. How much longer? Perhaps two weeks.

I made a four day three night trip to KL, travelling by bus, and staying in a nice hotel. I don’t think it hindered my recovery, and perhaps helped it as it was fun.  I got others to move the luggage, as I couldn’t.

And now at day 23 I am now is slow recovery mode.  I still need one ibuprofen about once every 24 hours, but I will try a lower dosage tablet from tonight – 400mg instead of 600mg per tablet.  It meant that it didn’t kill all the pain or swelling, and made it harder to sleep well. Resumed 600mg, once before sleeping.

Day 27, had pizza and vodka & tonic, but no ibuprofen. So by the night of Day 28 it is 48 hours since I had it.  Back muscles feel a bit tight, but no pain unless I cough a lot. Still can only lift very light things, or bend very carefully.  Can get into and out of bed, and move in bed without pain, or very little.

Thursday November 22 – Day 32? – Back is starting to feel normal, and I can easily lift the 5KG bag of compost, get into and out of the car and bed normally etc. Still cough a lot, but seems to be improving. Been doing oil pulling 3x a day since Monday.

Monday 26th – went to pharmacy & pharmacist said perhaps allergy behind nose, and then mucus runs down into lungs and causes cough. Best if can remove oneself from cause of allergy if possible. But take nose spray morn & evening and cough syrup just evenings before bed, and take maybe four days to feel better. Actually, when woke up Tues morning 27th felt a lot better – hadn’t coughed much at all during night.  Then in afternoon after nap felt almost normal -just hip hurts and feel a bit tired – like at the end of the day.

Back situation gradually gets better day by day.

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So in 2013 I was back to normal, fully recovered, and travelling, swimming and doing the gym, and climbing Penang Hill.

Those hazy, hazy, hazy days of summer in Penang – 2013 update – Hazy days are here again

2013 update

morning of June 28th, 2013

morning of June 28th, 2013

haze from Penang Hill 8.30AM 24 June

haze from Penang Hill 8.30AM 24 June

It’s getting better.

morning of 23 June

morning of 23 June

I first notice the haze on the 18th – it had finally stopped raining heavily every day. The 21st was not as bad as last year. And today, the 22nd, I climbed Penang Hill. Here is the morning view…

haze from Penang Hill

haze from Penang Hill morning of 22 June

Descending from the summit I met a resident of Johore, and he told me that trying to breathe there was like breathing sand. He came here for the weekend to escape the air. I guess it’s not as bad here.

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I was up early to watch dawn on the summer solstice. Fat chance.  There was an impenetrable haze.

looking towards Gurney drive, Tanjung Tokong and Straits Quays

The rainy season seemed to end on Saturday June 9th, and then Sunday 10th was a beautiful, clear, sunny day.  From Monday the haze appeared, and it has been hazy ever since. It feels like the haze began earlier this year than in previous years, and seems also to be more persistent, and worse.

Government readings  show the Air Pollution Index has hit unhealthy levels in some areas. In previous years I never noticed it affecting my health, but for the past few days I have been coughing, and worse.

“Haze caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia blanketed parts of Malaysia including the capital Saturday, causing air pollution to hit unhealthy levels.

Haze is an annual problem during the monsoon season from May to September as winds blow the fumes from Sumatra across the Malacca Strait to Malaysia.” Source, Inquirer News

This is what we have been told, generally – it’s Indonesian farmers causing the problem, year after year.

“Indonesia’s government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.” ibid.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department attributes blame for haze in general to many factors, such as the weather conditions during these months, but does say, “Firstly, we should refrain from open burning of waste. Most incidences of local haze can be traced to this activity.” MOSTI  So, this department is more circumspect. Is it really largely the fault of Indonesian farmers?

Today’s print edition of the Sun (the online version does not correlate closely with print edition) says that 150,000 masks have been distributed to schools, and that the state of Penang was moving its outdoor activities indoors for this week.  Band-Aids, not a solution.

As this happens year after year, one would think the causes would be well-known, and action would have been taken by now to solve the problem.  But the state officials are merely urging the Federal government to find a solution.

I would have thought that civil legal action could be taken by the Federal and State governments of Malaysia in Indonesia, or some other venue, against the individuals who are causing the problem, obviously choosing one or more large landowners to start with.  I suppose Indonesia does not have the common law, which would be straightforward, but still, harming people’s health must be unlawful. Should the case be won, other large-scale landowners would have to desist. If indeed it is the Indonesian farmers’ fault.  There seems little point targetting governments or corporations as they have unlimited funds to fight; and anyway, it is always individuals that make decisions within those institutions, so individuals should bear the responsibility. I am not happy that individuals somewhere are deliberately making me sick.

This season is the best of the year for tropical fruit – durian, mangosteen, rambutans, dragon fruit etc. so it would be a  pity, not to mention inconvenient to leave the country for these months.

Eventually the sun was strong enough to appear through the haze this morning.

summer solstice – not quite dawn, but at least the sun appeared

Later:

The morning was very windy, and some of the haze was blown away, so around lunch it was quite a bit clearer. But not really clear.

Again looking towards Straits Quays, after lunch

Finally, sunset on the summer solstice.

summer solstice sunset

Avoiding MSG – incorporating – Eating out in Penang without MSG – May 2013 update

MAY 2013 UPDATE

The original article is below. This is an ongoing topic, because as people become more aware of the harm this substance does, more products and more restaurants avoid its use.

I had a chat with the chef at E & O yesterday, and he said that that he is avoiding the use of MSG. However, MSG is apparently in the chicken stock they use, so some dishes – such as the pea soup that they were serving that day – would actually have MSG in them.

I managed to overcome an addiction – no, too strong a word – a desire to eat potato crisps, because of the MSG they started to put in them. It was hard to find any brands without MSG.  A quick check the other day in Tesco yielded the following: Mackies of Scotland crisps – 150g packet for RM13.50; Tyrells (from England) 150g RM13.90 – had no MSG. I didn’t check every other brand this time, but in the past I had, so I suspect all the other brands still have MSG.  You have to pay around an extra RM10 to avoid this poison, in other words.

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Monosodium Glutimate, a neuro-toxin, is an oft-used ingredient in Chinese, Malay and other local dishes.

“Monosodium Glutamate, better known as MSG, is a form of concentrated salt added to foods to enhance the flavor. This salt version of glutamic acid is an amino acid the body can produce on its own, but the MSG we find on store shelves is processed and comes from fermented sugar beets. Because this kind of MSG is processed, it can cause many adverse reactions, including skin rashes, itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, asthma, heart irregularities, depression and even seizures.”

 
If you unaware of the effects of MSG, and what products contain it, please read the source article.
 
MSG appears naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage but this is not at all harmful.
 
I notice that very slowly restaurants are appearing which claim to add no MSG, but there are very few.  A search on the web, like “Penang restaurants no msg” will bring up a few.
 
For example, the Indian restaurant I at at the other day, d’Tandoor Restaurant, adds no MSG to their dishes.
 
Depending on how sensitive your body is, you may be able to get away with eating some added MSG, but I avoid it as much as I possibly can.
 
 

Eating out in Penang without MSG

Monosodium Glutimate, a neuro-toxin, is an oft-used ingredient in Chinese, Malay and other local dishes.

“Monosodium Glutamate, better known as MSG, is a form of concentrated salt added to foods to enhance the flavor. This salt version of glutamic acid is an amino acid the body can produce on its own, but the MSG we find on store shelves is processed and comes from fermented sugar beets. Because this kind of MSG is processed, it can cause many adverse reactions, including skin rashes, itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, asthma, heart irregularities, depression and even seizures.”

If you unaware of the effects of MSG, and what products contain it, please read the source article.
MSG appears naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage but this is not at all harmful.
I notice that very slowly restaurants are appearing which claim to add no MSG, but there are very few.  A search on the web, like “Penang restaurants no msg” will bring up a few.
For example, the Indian restaurant I at at the other day, d’Tandoor Restaurant, adds no MSG to their dishes.
Depending on how sensitive your body is, you may be able to get away with eating some added MSG, but I avoid it as much as I possibly can.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – cape gooseberry

Another of the few successes I have had is growing cape gooseberry.

How to grow:
find the plant
pick the mature pod
get the seeds from the pod

Plant seeds in potting mix and transplant into a larger pot or the ground when the seedlings are an inch or two high.

The plant doesn’t like to be pruned.

a ripe cape gooseberry

the plant is growing from the pot at the top

Just waiting for the fruit to mature – when the pod turns yellow and the outer part, dry.

Recovery from seasonal illness

Tropical Expat has been laid low for almost a month with some sort of flu, caught possibly while travelling on the trains in Malaysia.  As usual I waited for it to go away, with no treatment, but it didn’t. The fever did, but occasionally came back for a few hours after a few days. This blog is about how I treated it, and recovered.

As an aside,  I have thus been unable to research material for writing blogs, as I have been at home except for grocery shopping, and cancelled all social engagements and outings.

Symptoms:

  • a great amount of dry coughing
  • light fever occasionally
  • no natural recovery over time

History:

Around 4th October I had a headache, light fever, and coughing, but I “recovered” the next day, only to have it return with a vengeance about three days later.  A few days later I “recovered” again, and then it soon returned, and stayed, so by Thursday 11th October the coughing was quite bad.  I still expected to recover naturally, so did no treatment.  The following Thursday 18th I was coughing so badly that the coughing caused back damage, and from then on any coughing was painful.

As a result on Monday 22nd I finally went to the hospital, as described in an earlier blog of mine.

The general idea from both doctors I saw was to treat and cure the cough, and thus the cause of continual back pain will be removed and the back will be able to recover. I was prescribed these medicines (on the left side) for the cough.

so many medicines!!!

Klacid MR – Clarithromycin – obviously an antibiotic – one a day for five days

Mucosolvon – Ambroxol – one tablet three times a day for one week

Fluimucil – Acetylcysteine – one tablet once a day for one week

A cough syrup – three times a day for a week

Recovery:

I took the medicines as prescribed, and a week later I was feeling a little better.  But from then I was on my own, as I didn’t see much point returning to the doctor, and didn’t notice any dramatic results from the medicines.

I did all the following, so I can’t say which were the most effective, but in combination they seemed to help:

  • fasting or light eating – mainly fruit.  This meant my body spent less energy on digestion, and more on healing. As I was using little energy staying at home, I hardly needed much food.
  • sunshine for at least 10 minutes a day
  • using the nebuliser with colloidal silver several times a day. I couldn’t inhale deeply as this caused coughing fits, which caused my back much pain, but gradually as my lungs cleared up I could inhale more deeply, which would make it more effective, too.  For more on colloidal silver see here and here and here.  Colloidal silver is a natural anti-biotic, and after I used it my lungs cleared out some stuff, so it felt effective.  I bought the Omron nebuliser in Gurney Plaza, in a shop near Cold Storage.

nebuliser

  • Oil pulling – which removes toxins from your mouth, and thus your body, so gives your immune system more chance to heal you.  I use coconut oil, and generally did it once a day until I was recovering well, when I increased the frequency to twice or three times a day.
  • Reiki. Being a Reiki master myself, naturally I did this on myself.
  • Ginko nuts – bought at Pulau Tikus market – are good for coughs.
  • Persimmon – bought at Pulau Tikus market – are also good for coughs.
  • I tried to sleep when possible, but it was painful for me to lie down, so unfortunately I couldn’t sleep well or as much as I wanted.
  • Coughing was least painful when I sat down in an average height solid chair. Lying down or standing up, or sitting on a soft sofa or a mattress was much more painful, thus causing more damage to my back.  I had to rush to a chair when I was about to cough.

So in the five days since I finished the medicines and used the above treatments on myself I have experienced a strong recovery, with my lungs clearing out, and being able to inhale much more deeply.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – blue pea flower

One of the few successes I have had is growing the blue pea flower.  This is because, different from most things I have tried to grow, I got the seeds from a neighbour’s plant, so I was growing in the same environment.

blue flower

The flowers can be used to make detox tea:

flowers, picked

flowers, picked and dried

blue pea flower tea

When you squeeze some lemon juice into the tea it becomes purple, as shown below:

blue pea flower tea on left; blue pea flower with lemon on right

Or it can be used to make blue rice, which is rather attractive:

Or, it can be used to improve the soil, as it is a legume and fixes nitrogen in the soil.  I use it as a companion plant with my passion fruit vines.

How to grow:

find the plant

pick the mature pod

get the seeds from the pod

Plant seeds in potting mix and transplant into a larger pot or the ground when the seedlings are an inch or two high.