The difficulties of recovery during a lockdown………

Well here I am again, pondering the current state of affairs and how I am coping with it all, and as with most people at the moment no matter where you are on this Globe, there are good days and bad days, positives and disappointments. A main issue for me has certainly been missing out on the professional help through this now lengthy recovery, so not being able to get out there for hospital appointments, which alongside my Cardio Rehab had to be cancelled was difficult to handle to be honest. So missing out on tailored exercise and advice, dietician, psychologist etc…….. with unfortunately no sign of anything being rescheduled in the near future, fingers crossed  all measures continue to work and it can be sorted out soon.

 

Here in Ireland our current restrictions to try and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus are due to end in the next couple of days, and all going to plan we will move into the next phase. That will be followed, assuming all goes well, by 5 x 3 week long phases reducing restrictions each time until the end of August, yep seems like a long time, but hopefully at that stage if all is ok we will be in a much better position. As we already knew live music will be still off the menu until at the very earliest late Sept/Oct, but we really can’t put a proper timescale on it at the moment. More Festivals either postponed or cancelled recently including Bloodstock (postponed to 2021 with an extra day – nice one Bloodstock), Summer Indoors 2020 (postponed to 2021, and Uprising which won’t happen for 2020 now, but will return bigger in 2021. There are still many events that have not yet, but will be cancelled, with bands, promoters etc waiting on the right time for an announcement, holding out hope that things will get back to normal sooner than expected or simply waiting until they have rescheduled the event until they announce the cancellation of the original version. On the positive side, more Tours/shows have been rescheduled for later in the year or for the same time next year.

 

Up until now, and even with that it had only become knowledge to me over the last couple of weeks, I have only known a couple of people that had actually tested positive for coronavirus, and they had all been lucky enough to have contracted a mild dose of it and are already recovered. But sadly that all changed when it really hit close to home and the difficulties other families have run into hit me square in the face. When an elderly member of your family falls ill with this virus alongside the natural worries about them you realise that the other problems associated with the lockdown are affecting you, that you can’t go and visit them, no matter how ill they may become you can only hope they are coherent enough for a video call, or to hear you on the telephone. Once someone tests positive and they will be isolated from the rest of the people in their facility, they may be confused, needing to be reminded about the virus each day should they be suffering from dementia, more than likely they are already suffering from underlying medical issues which will make it more difficult to overcome the effects of the virus, and as the Hospitals do not necessarily have the capacity to take in these patients an increased pressure and burden falls on the care facility they reside in. The message to #stayhome #staysafe is so important, accidentally passing the virus onto an elderly person in the community will have very similar effects, and yet everyday we still see many cases of people not following social distancing guidelines. This will only lead to one thing in the end more infections and a longer time period where we have to isolate/distance/miss out on the normal things in life we had up to this point taken for granted, won’t be taking anything for granted in future.

 

Of course we have in many ways been very lucky on this island that the hospitals were not over run, the very hard working staff and a larger community effort than we have probably seen in decades has helped without a doubt, the actions of Govt to help out employers and employees may be very costly, but in the end will save us so much as a nation. Since I started to write this I had a bit of a mental blockage and it’s ended up taking forever to finish, but hey ho, so many friends have been struggling aswell, mentally, deep dips and no massive highs to balance them out. More shows have bitten the dist this week, Iron Maiden in Belfast cancelled and Rammstien in the same City hopefully rescheduled, along with a few smaller shows. It’s a real shame the Maiden lineup was unreal, with Tempt, Airbourne, Alter Bridge and Maiden headlining, one hell of a lineup. but that’s it in a nutshell, try not to let the disappointments get to you too much, what the future holds, especially for music, how we will be able to socially distance and maintain any sort of a vibe, hold onto an atmosphere, and what it will look and feel like, it’s a mystery. Have been reading a number of articles from various people in the industry and what I’ve garnered most is exactly that fact nobody knows what is going to happen yet.

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For me, well, I’m back working a full week, from home, trying to push myself a bit harder physically and lee[ the sanity there is some semblance of tact. None of that is easy, strangely enough, the things I thought would be easiest to control haven’t worked out that way, the diet has been a lot more back on track as my mam recovers slowly, Working hard on my walking, and also stepped things up a bit. Last week managed to hit 8.5km without keeling over, so then got inspired this week by a good friend that is walking 10km+ every day in May to raise some much needed funds for a very good cause, so this week I managed to his 10km for the first time Monday, maintained it on Tuesday and still hit my 10,000 steps today, but not quite the 10km, still it’s a bit increase in workload, so ensuring I’m not pushing too hard, if I need to I’ll back off again for a day and then try and hit back to the higher level again, it’s certainly been difficult at times, trying not to get frustrated with people wandering around the streets ignoring guidelines, or groups of kids that just don’t know or care, but I’ll stick to my back roads, keep doing my loops and looks some weight at the same time, only shed 10 to 11 kg’s so far, but that’s definitely a good start 😉

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So lets keep doing what we need to do, try and keep our minds from going off the reservation, if you are in the situation where you are not or cannot work, get out and get your exercise in the fresh air, it’s a life saver. Sleep certainly hasn’t been good for most people and I’m no different, staying up later and getting up early for work, broken sleep, it’s tiring, but thankfully to date no sign of anything being triggered with my epilepsy, also glad I’ve not really noticed any side affects yet from my heart medications. Video calls with friends, colleagues, family has been something that has become a new social life for many, be it quiz\es or dinner parties or social drinks, it’s just another thing to help people get through it. Have been looking back through old sets of photos checking out Landscapes from visits to the West Coast, I’ve said it many times, but the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast of Ireland is simply stunning, and when things eventually get back to some form of normal get yourself out there to see some of the beautiful scenery around your own country, we so often take it all for granted.

#staysafe #stayhome and look after yourselves.

Trying to stay a bit productive in lockdown central….

Like most of us, it’s not easy being stuck in this Lockdown, especially when there’s a very active young child bouncing around the walls of the house, so the new set of Jabra Elite 65T wireless earbuds was a really good investment to try and keep things a little more quiet when trying to work from home. Honestly I picked them up for my daily walks as sometimes you can catch your hands in the cables of standard headphones and that was an annoyance that wasn’t needed, I saw them on offer and decided it made sense, and yep, they have been great for walking outdoors and also being around the house.

 

One positive of being stuck around the house is that it would appear I have finally been able to get back to doing some review writing again, So go check out the latest couple of reviews over on my Reviews – Albums/Gigs 2020 and seeing as there aren’t going to be any gig reviews for some time it’s great to be back in the saddle so to speak on the Album Review front.  Latest additions are the brilliant new Dynasty album and yet another excellent release from Newman, both for my good friends over at RockposerDotCom.  Links to both reviews are on the page below, hope you like them, there will, touch wood, be many more to follow.  Also, without new gigs, will be looking back at some from last year and will add them to the page as well.

Reviews – Albums/Gigs 2020

 

Hope everyone is keeping busy, healthy and sane throughout this crisis, it is of course more difficult depending on your situation, I have to be extra careful since the heart attack, and still need to get out and exercise. Sadly even if I didn’t can’t visit my sick mother, so that’s an extra strain, but I know she is being well looked after by a caring group of staff where she is, so that is a comfort. Right time to get out and have that walk, stick a new album on the headphones and see where the walk today leads, it’s really important to get fresh air for mental health, four walls no matter what sort of accommodation you live in can close in around you after a period of time, add to that being stuck in it’s much more difficult to eat healthy foods, get a little down and it’s much easier to reach for chocolate rather than fruit, but I will hopefully get there. As more and more gigs and Festivals are either cancelled or postponed until next year it’s looking like a very quiet Summer ahead. But 2021 is going to be crazy busy for gigs, so bring it on, will definitely be trying to get to some different places next year, if Germany doesn’t happen this year then next year will try and bring the camera along.

 

The little man is being a brat today, but he’s going to have good days and bad too, gotta try and keep patient with everyone and everything, new music is out there, lots to listen to, new albums to buy and keep helping out your favourite acts if of course you can in difficult financial times, and hopefully we’ll all be out at a gig on the other side of this thing.

#stayhome #staysafe

The ongoing recovery update…

Well here we are having rolled into March, this week will mark 2 months since my heart attack and although I’m definitely seeing progress it is still frustratingly slow for me. As with pretty much all recoveries from surgery, but certainly from a major surgery there are good days and bad days in the months that follow. For me the operation itself was the easy bit, which wasn’t how I thought things would be, I knew I needed it so automatically got my head adjusted and of course was slightly nervous, but was eager to get through it. If may have been nearly 3 hours and a lot more difficult than expected for the surgeons, but 3 days after a heart attack I had my new Stents installed and was looking forward to the road to recovery. (to give you some idea of the relative size of a Stent there’s a cover photo above and another below).

Stent-Dr-Murtaza

Two months on and having been at home for almost the whole time since and there has been some elements of going stir crazy, although I have returned to a very limited amount of work action, a lot of days are filled with eating, going out for walks or to the shops and trying to plan various different Hospital visits or to my mam, it’s all go 😉

With the Nursing Home now on lockdown one of my walking routes is currently out of action, but it’s very important that elderly people are exposed as little as possible to the possible threat of virus infection, so it is what it is, phone calls to check things for the moment. In the meantime have gotten some of the administrative stuff progressed a little so that takes a little off my mind, I think it wouldn’t have been possible to sort from now for a couple of months.

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Two weeks ago I had a cardio assessment in the Hospital for my Rehab Classes, all went very well and my classes have now been scheduled, so that’s good, but with the many issues that the spread of Coronavirus is now causing there is a chance that schedule may be thrown into disarray, time will tell, For now I am really hoping to get them started, I’ve gotten my walking up to around 5km a day, which is a good start, but after having a very bad week or so diet wise (well there has definitely been a valley of depression over the whole covid-19 issue, it’s one thing to be isolated because of limited physical activity, quite another to be made stay home due to an increasingly rapidly spreading virus that is more dangerous to me as someone with an underlying condition, don’t get me wrong it doesn’t scare me, but I’m sensible enough to not put myself at further risk for no reason. But this whole situation certainly has it’s effects on mental health, and that can certainly contribute to throwing a well maintained diet out the window for a short period of time, so hopefully back on track now, touch wood, and if we can get the Rehab going it will definitely help.

Was really nice to get out and about yesterday with the camera for the first time this year, just a walk in the grounds of Newbridge House and Farm with the family and a few photos of the scenery and Deer. Luckily have been able to get out for walks once or twice a day most days up till now, have avoided being out in the storms, but my estate is large enough to get out on different routes to avoid monotony and still get me to the 5km+ mark. It’s a very quiet St.Patricks Day today here in Dublin, of course no Parades going on, hundreds of thousands of people in close proximity would be stupid and a breathing ground for new infections, more and more pubs closed and most people that I’m seeing adopting the advice to avoid unnecessary contact etc……..  so was definitely nice to have a wander around some nice grounds yesterday.

The number of people there were understandably smaller than usual, but is as it should be, and aside from passing people on the path or around the park contact is very much at a minimum, none of which of course is bothering the Deer at all, they are happily munching away on grass and relaxing.

 

Sleep patterns have sadly gone right out the window alongside the poor diet over the last while, maybe it’s a little worry about everything in the back of my mind, but no issues with the Epilepsy, no fits, and continue to take medication as I always have, will just keep an eye on it and rest when I need to, being down does not help it, but keeping the brain ticking over steadies me, listening to some new music has lifted things slightly, purchasing some new items and listening to albums I’m due to review on my walks  is definitely the solution. My thoughts go out to anyone in a bad place already that now has to self isolate, if your deep in a hole just reach out to a friend or organisation and have a chat, it will help. Right now it’s looking like most countries in Europe are going to lock down for an unknown period so hang in there.folks, like any other downturn we can all get through this. How the Govt’s go about helping people who are either no longer getting a wage or are in other financial difficulties as a direct result of the Virus has yet to be seen, but hopefully common sense can be impressed upon the Banks so that stress can be lifted.

 

All live Music events in Ireland have been cancelled or postponed for the significant future, right now they are cancelling/postponing events through the end of April and a few in May/June, well you have to understand that Tours span Europe and also span months so anything starting in April and running into May will go, and right now I would personally be surprised if the big gigs planned for June and some of the larger Festivals didn’t get pulled in the coming weeks. I missed out on HRH AOR last week and with their other Fests Hammerfest and HRH Prog IX having also now been cancelled I’d expect HRH Blues to go very soon, it’s just not possible to get artists around the Globe at the moment, nevermind insurance etc…….   was really cool to see Code Orange going ahead with their Album Release the other night in an empty venue but being Livestreamed to fans all over the globe, it will be the way of the future for the moment I think and at least bands and venues can probably recoup some costs from it, remember to go support your local favourite bands, if they can’t play and have had to cancel shows/tours they are losing money and may have t-shirts that were for a Tour that you can go pick up from their website or a CD etc…. and help them survive, same with promoters, if a show is cancelled, don’t just look for a refund, wait for the rescheduled date and if you can’t make it get a refund and buy a ticket for a show later in the year, we all have to help out in these difficult times. So my return to Photographing gigs will quite possibly be pushed back until the 2nd half of 2020, hopefully things will improve quicker than that and some local gigs get back on the calendar quicker but we will have to wait and see, the longer stuff is off the longer it will take to restart.

Most importantly, continue to follow medical advice, thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitiser where appropriate (mostly entering shops), but get shopping delivered where possible, don’t go sit in a pub all night, don’t sit beside someonre on a bus or train when there are spare seats, or avoid using at all if possible, the reality is even looking at the UK they are hoping to keep the number of deaths under 20,000 – right now there are 56, just think that if they expect the peak in a month or two so at some point there the Death rate would be well over 1000 per week, some very difficult times ahead, no matter where you live, so stay safe, do what you are asked from a safety perspective and we can all get back to normal at some point and start doing the things we love again – I’m going to get back to writing reviews (yeah I know I say that on every update, but I’m working on them).

Love and light to all    DevilsHorns DevilsHorns

The next step on the road to recovery……..

Well it’s been just over 3 weeks since my Heart Attack, and I guess my impatience is starting to grow, as I mentioned last time I would not be the best patient in the world.  There are no hard and fast methods or details on how far you should push yourself during recovery. With regards to exercise I did manage to find an example table of distances to walk within time periods from week 1 to 6 following the attack/operation, on the Scottish Heart Foundations website. What I had initially forgotten about/ignored was that Week 1 does not start until 10 days after the Attack itself, meaning I’d started longer distances way too early, of course everyone is different, but I walking too fast too quickly. Very hard to balance a walking pace when you are naturally a fast walker, but will continue to try.

 

Food wise, well I’m not saying I wouldn’t destroy a large bar of chocolate right now, but the dietary changes have not been as difficult as first expected, being someone that eats a lot of potato and used to eat a lot of fruit and veg it’s just simply been a case of swapping fruit in as snacks and adjusting meals to be a lot more veg based, not a massive problem, eating breakfast every morning and working on 3 square meals a day hasn’t been too difficult at home, but when I go back to work it will all become a little more difficult….. massive reduction in my salt intake alongside sugars, no sweets or fizzy drinks since it happened, The odd treat will happen every now and then, but if I can stick to what I am doing and maybe add in some foods that I don’t normally eat then the variation will help the situation as well, it would be nice if there was a safer alternative to salt as a flavouring agent .Plenty of stuff to learn with regards to meals, nutrients etc, working hard on what is probably the most important part of the process and that’s getting correct portion size, which is certainly one thing that was out of control.

 

It is quite difficult to figure out what to do in the period between being discharged from the Hospital after the operation and the time Cardio Rehab begins, obviously we are all different and levels of exercise alongside the rate we can increase workouts. Having found to my detriment the danger of pushing too far too soon, it’s careful one step at a time stuff now. and try and rest up as much as possible. At this point I still have to figure out how the transition back to work will happen, but will discuss that with my own Doctor, the relevant parties and something will be worked out, the benefit of having a very understanding employer can not be overstated, they have been excellent. Taking the extra time required to be ready to return to that environment will hopefully make all the difference, Still hoping that I’ll be able to make the HRH AOR Festival in 5 weeks, it’s a goal I’ve set myself, but if it’s not possible the decision to be made will be to for health reasons and not just feelings.

 

The lineup of gigs and Festivals for the year will no doubt have to be amended, don’t think there’s any chance I’ll be able to do so many back to back events, but will see what can be managed sensibly, and also if we can get photography back on track. Haven’t picked up a camera since before Christmas, so perhaps that’s the next step in my recovery, next week is the aim just taking some photos of the birds in the back garden, and besides there is a new lens to try out.

 

We are all smothered with a heavy cold now, so that’s certainly not helping this morning, but hopefully that will pass over the weekend and I need to get to the Doctors on Monday morning to sort a few things out, there is always something else to do.

Stay safe and look after yourselves……picked up a little capsule last week that holds a couple of asprins in case of emergency and attaches to your keyring so alongside my spray I think that will be coming out with me everywhere from now on.

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A little update on the health situation…….

Well it’s been two weeks since my Heart Attack and almost 2 weeks since the Operation where they implanted 2 Stents into the arteries around my heart. I certainly hasn’t been an easy couple of weeks, but at the same time I’m immensely happy to still be able to hug my family, and just be above ground.

 

There have been moments of discomfort, most especially in week one pose op, but they are less frequent as time has gone on, takes time for everything to settle down with your body, and the Stents to settle in. But physically all that is left visibly are a couple of marks and this one below, where they made the entry to the artery to perform the OP.

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My Diet has changed dramatically, lots of fruit and veg, as little salt as possible, big cut down on sugar, no sweets or cakes, fish and chicken, and drinking water all day rather than minerals/soda. Also eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, so eating a lot more regularly, but a bit worried about being able to just keep things like this when I eventually get back to work. Hopefully won’t be too much of a pain, can just bring my food with me and do some trial and error. Not the easiest or most fun thing to do, but certainly necessary, really thought that the drop in sugary foods would bring on a bit of depression, but thankfully nothing.

 

Exercise has begun and it’s been great to be able to get out in the fresh air and start walking, may have pushed it a little bit to hard first time out, but will just try to build and hold my pace better, honestly I find it very difficult to walk slowly, but it’s a nice loop around my estate from just outside the door, which can also be built upon in either direction to extend the distance and time spent exercising. To date I’ve lost a few kg’s as well, which is no bad thing. Will be slim and trim in no time  😉

Next up a trip to the GP on Monday and see where we go from there. Still pretty tired and if I have a nap in the day it’s much harder to sleep at night………hey ho, always something isn’t there. But for now trying hard not to let the other stresses get to me, I already got wiped out after having to make some difficult decisions regarding my sick relative, that and the discussions about them . just cleared out all the energy earlier in the week. With any luck a lot of the work on that is now in progress, can’t do any running around, so hopefully one or two trips and we will get there.

 

In 7 months I turn 50 – will be an interesting time between now and then, should be a healthier person by then. Currently all gig and photography action are cancelled. missing the gigs I am missing is difficult, but there isn’t another option, so a necessary evil and not sure I could stand for a whole night year anyway, for now the first few Festivals are out, but will see how the recovery progresses…………………………as with most things in life, hard work and following orders …..

Never take your Health for granted……..

Well it’s been a somewhat interesting week to say the least. Have spoken before about looking after an elderly relative and the stress and pressure that comes along side that, and how over time it just continues to build, and don’t get me wrong it is very important to keep elderly people living at home for as long as possible, but at times you take on too much, or you just can’t provide the care and attention they need.  So last Wednesday ended up in the hospital, which was crazily overcrowded, and then looking after them at home through the rest of the week.

 

Arriving home from my bit of care work on Friday evening, Id had a bit of discomfort in my chest all day, but put it down to indigestion, typical man, just ignore it and it will go away, but then a sharp pain in my chest for around 60 seconds and I did the sensible thing, called an ambulance and after being checked out went to Hospital to get Blood Tests and a Doctor once over. After 10 hours of waiting in A&E finally got in to see someone and within about 15 minutes I was being checked in, probable Heart Attack and the fun began.

 

As always the care in the Hospital was second to none, how they manage to do so in those conditions is beyond me, the hours are too long, the facilities inadequate for the number of patients, and they all deserve a bloody medal, the Govt in Ireland really should be ashamed of themselves continuing for so many years not addressing problems every man on the street can see are obvious. Anyway, a weekend of tests and then Monday a nearly 3hr operation to install some Stents into my heart and get things working better again. How quickly things can change. The blockages/narrowing were in an awkward place which definitely didn’t help, and how weird it is to be awake while it’s all heppening. We all take so much for granted, and it literally takes 1 minute for everything to change. Home now and resting, but so many changes have to be made, and right now the future is still very uncertain. Changes of Diet and Exercise are a given, but there’s so much else on top of it, capacity to help care for someone else, work and just how much of what I do now can I continue to do, then there is my beloved music, don’t know if I can get back to Photography or if it will have to be something I give up, But most importantly will be staying around for my family, my little guy will need me around for a long time yet, even if I can’t lift him up at the moment, which is really hurting me.

 

So some advice, take care of yoursef before it is forced upon you, we only get one shot at this thing so don’t play around with it. Never ignore the warning signs and if you don’t feel right and have a pain/discomfort you’ve never experienced before in your chest – go get it checked out before something happens. And try to always have 300mg of Asprin around handy in your home or on you for chewing if something happens, if could just be the difference. For me I’m going from one tablet for my Epilepsy to 6 tablets a day, big change and always a worry some medication won’t play well with others.

 

For now, rest and recouperation, cancelled gigs for the next while and no overextending. We can all do this, but will take more discipline in future and perhaps not trying to be everything to everyone. Take care of yourselves……………..