Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hardspear quits smoking with Champix and Pfizer

(Ignore what I am saying below - I started smoking shortly after I wrote this post and still struggling to quit 3 months down the line).  Initially I could not detect any clashes between Ritalin & Champix, but soon the combo started making me anxious like hell.  I stopped taking Champix...)

Having taken up smoking after quitting for 5 years, I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have tried to stop again since the 1st cigarette I smoked in July.  Not successful.

Then I got myself a prescription for the new quit-smoking drug – Champix – by Pfizer.  Putting it simply – the other successful drug in recent years (Zyban), is an anti-depressant of which one of the side effects is to curb cravings for smoking.  Champix on the other hand blocks the nicotine receptors in the brain, as I understand it.
I started taking Champix a week ago and also enrolled in the online support programme Pfizer developed called mytimetostart  The programme advises one to finally stop smoking a week after you’ve started the meds.  During the 1st week they start you off on a weak dosage, which increases to full strength on the first day you’re supposed to quit.
During that 1st week, personally I did not feel much of an urge to quit, but I have been getting these super motivational, helpful and insightful e-mails form the programme.
Yesterday I actually had to stop.  Lo and freaking behold.  I did not crave a cigarette at all.  I was not cranky, irritated, agitated, impatient or “mislik”.  I first thought of a cigarette at 15:00 after an afternoon nap.  During the evening we were with friends and I had a glass of red wine.  I had a very low intensity and fleeting “lus” for a cigarette, which was totally manageable and quick.
This morning I woke up – no craving!!! 
In fact.  My mood and energy levels improved quite a bit since I started Champix a week ago.
5 Years ago when I first quit, I went cold turkey (nicotine replacement therapy did not help me at all).  It was extremely difficult, but I did it.  Now is one of those periods in my life which is typically not a good time to stop, but with Champix I am doing it anyway, despite all the stressors in my life.
I was worried that taking Champix with Ritalin may have some strange effects, but after consulting with friend Cara Noir, who is a psychiatrist, I was happy to learn that it should not, and now I am testament that it does not. 
The Champix is quite a loooong course to complete, but in order to ensure success, I am going to take every single last nicotine blocking tablet in this course to ensure success.
Thanks Champix and Pfizer. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Honey Bee paralysed in ICU

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea planned this post in anger & hate… I have been brooding on this for quite longer than a month…  My hate and anger was turned by two angels to love and forgiveness.
My Sister, Honey Bee, five weeks ago, to celebrate a friend’s birthday, went for a meal to a restaurant in East London where they live.  Instead of good memories, Honey Bee was incubated by one of the worst food poisoning bugs in existence.  This malevolent and evil bacterium resulted in Honey Bee’s whole system and all organs being shocked into a state of septicaemia.  
Honey Bee ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of the Hospital of the Holy Lord (which is not really the Holy Lord, but translates to a Roman Catholic Saint whose name means that…)  Oh for goodness sake the place’s name is Saint Dominique.  If you haven’t realised yet, the names of people I use on this blog is the meaning of their given names.
In this hospital Honey Bee first contracted Hospital Acquired Pneumonia and then a Nosocomial Infection.  A nosocomial infection is the super bug which only exists in hospitals and is labelled as viruses and bacteria which have become resistant to most known anti-biotics.
Thirty three years after Honey Bee died and lived again, she ended up in ICU once more (she spent the first year of her life in Jo’burg Gen’s ICU).  Again she had to have a tracheostomy (hole in the throat so she can breathe).
On account of the tracheostomy, she now cannot speak.  Because of the microscopic yet complete attack on her body she is paralysed as well.
With God’s protection and the Noir genes she inherited from my late mother, she survived however.  My other sister and I are innate De La Azoteas.  The Noir side of the family, however all have constitutions like oxen – The farmers which they are…
Eight months ago God had my path crossed with the Vodacom Change the World initiative.  There I met two Angels, Drika & Santie.  Drika runs a charity called Opkyk Pathways near Brits.  Santie is the Vodacom Volunteer placed there.
Opkyk Pathways focus on interventions with disabled and abused children at the centre, but they also do community work.  They also make use of Equitherapy.  Some of the horses they use were also abused and neglected, and it is incredible to see how the children and horses heal each other.
Drika & Santie both have a passion for children and adults who cannot speak.  I was astounded to see the work they do and the ways and means they assist children and adults to “speak” and communicate.  They use both high- and low tech interventions & devices to assist people to communicate.  High tech devices include talking photo albums and other apparatus specifically designed to assist people to communicate, but they are very expensive.  Less expensive devices not specifically designed for this purpose, but which works wonderfully well includes stuff like electronic label makers which you can buy from Waltons.
Low tech devices include laminated ABC, phrase & picture charts where a child can point to pictures or phrases or spell out words.
Because Honey Bee is paralysed, I could not imagine how they would be able to help, but I contacted Santie & Drika regardless.  Both were extremely excited to be able to assist and they described to me a system where a frame is used which is covered in Velcro.  Cards are then made with “Yes” and “No” responses, as well as applicable phrases.  These are then stuck to the frame and shown to a paralysed person who cannot speak.  All one then have to do is follow the person’s eyes to see which answer they are looking at!  So simple, so effective, yet I wonder if I would ever have thought of that!
Santie did most of the work to make a customised system with appropriate phrases for Honey Bee and THEY DID NOT CHARGE US A CENT FOR THEIR EFFORT.  In appreciation I donated R2000 – which is not near enough to convey my appreciation.
The communication pack was couriered to my Dad and arrived on Friday.  I cannot wait to hear the results…
Other bit of good news, is that my Dad on advice from the doctors applied to have anti-biotics imported from overseas, which may help fight the infection.  It is a long process, since that specific medicine is not registered in SA, so approval had to be obtained first before it could be ordered.  It took more than 3 weeks, but eventually that also arrived on Friday.