What Does Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Feel Like?

This last week I’ve talked about my experience when we had a Carbon Monoxide leak. The question I’m asked the most is What does Carbon Monoxide poisoning feel like?

What does Carbon Monoxide poisoning feel like?

what does carbon monoxide poisoning feel like

You wake up and your head feels like there’s a lead weight in it. You get out of bed and you can’t stand up straight. Trying to stand up straight is difficult, you wobble about all over the place and try to focus. It feels a bit like a head cold crossed with an ear infection when you lose your balance.

The room spins a bit too.

Then a bit more.

You can’t remember what day it is. It’s very confusing. But the alarm went off so it must be a work day.

You get dressed and get out of the house because you want some fresh air. The penny doesn’t drop though, it’s just fresh air feels nice, even if this is London fresh air.

By the time you’re on the main footpath to the station you realise you’re not walking in a straight line. You hope there’s nobody behind you because they might think you’re drunk. You then think “hang on, what am I doing anyway?” because you’ve forgotten. It helps to write as much as possible down because you forget everything.

There are things you remember. Where to stand on the platform so you have a good chance of getting a seat. Seats are important when you feel so rotten.

You assume it must be caffeine withdrawal; you’ve had to start drinking coffee again to wake up every morning, a nice strong filter coffee too. You look at your phone for a bit, try and do some brain training but you can’t really focus because you feel so odd. It feels like travel sickness like the kind you got when you were nine or ten – but on the train. Maybe it’s a virus?

Your train pulls into Clapham Junction (“the busiest station in the UK” they proudly say), and now you have to deal with too many people. They seem to fly into you from all kinds of places like a Quidditch match in full swing. You just need a clear path to walk along to get out of there; to the comfort of your desk and a good, strong coffee.

But first you have to deal with the bus to work. Fighting for space with the schoolkids, trying to get a seat as you’re feeling a bit less giddy, you know it’s nearly coffee time. Yes, that’s what it must be. You need coffee and it’s affecting your sleep at night which is making you so giddy in the morning. Doctor Internet doesn’t need to tell you that.

You finally arrive at work, feeling pretty dizzy. You get on with your job because that’s something you can keep your head down and get on with, it’s always busy.

By mid-morning you feel fine again – those coffee’s have fixed the weirdness.

Repeat every single day.

Meeting up with people is almost impossible because you forget where and when people are meeting, especially when told verbally. Facebook and emails become your social organisers if you can remember what day it is.

People think you’re a bit flaky. You prefer an early night tucked up in bed as you feel so unwell every morning. Besides, it’s nice and warm at home, even with the terrible hot air heating system.

Then you have a Gas Safety Check and the boiler gets switched off. Apparently with hot air heaters the fumes and stuff go outside via the loft. Something is loose up there and it isn’t good.

That’s okay because it’s April. You’re not entirely sure what the man said when he stuck that big danger sign on your heater because you feel a bit confused.

You ask him a practical question which makes lots of sense to you, and he replies, very seriously, with the word “death”. That seems a bit extreme, you think.

You wake up the next few mornings and think brilliant! I’ve finally cracked this virus!

Then the penny drops.

That time H was sick all over the bed.

The feeling the way I did every morning.

So you google what does carbon monoxide poisoning feel like?

Our bedroom is next to the loft hatch so actually, if carbon monoxide is leaking in the loft, the first place it’s going to head is the bedroom.

I may have sworn a few times.

And a few more.

We were all extremely lucky. Especially as we switched on our heating manually every day, never relying on a timer.

This was written for Gas Safety Week 2017  – 2018 is almost here. That was my story.  I’ve spoken on the radio a few times and appeared on London Live to speak about it.

If I’m ever asked what does Carbon Monoxide poisoning feel like? I reply with all of this.

2016 in Review

What can I say about 2016? It has been a strange year, but one where we got things done. A year when friendships got stronger or just disappeared completely. Where we did things and they actually happened. It has been a good year with plenty of memories, and as a family, one I know we’ll remember. Especially H now she’s at the age where your memories stick with you.

Here’s our 2016 in review.

The 1st January was spent in Brighton. We traditionally go to the seaside at the start of the year to get some cold air and breathe again. We usually alternate between Brighton, Eastbourne and Bognor Regis and it’s usually very closed and quiet apart from the odd Fish & Chips place. I like it because it’s cold, closed, dark and fresh and crisp; nothing like bringing in a new year that way every year.

We took out Historic Royal Palaces membership and headed to Hampton Court early on in the year, showing H somewhere I used to love going when I was her age. My Auntie Florrie lived in Teddington and that whole area was somewhere we spent a lot of time when we visited London back in the seventies.

H had her first horse riding lesson. It’s too expensive to keep up, unfortunately. She loved it though.

Horse Riding at Deen City Farm

I had always wanted to visit Kensington Palace as it intrigues me. You’re visiting somewhere next door to the almost-untouchable current Royals. Anyway, it was an interesting place. HRP membership covered that.

Hampton Court

March and we were back to Hampton Court as my friend got an invite to preview the Magic Garden, so we popped along. It didn’t disappoint!

Hampton Court Magic Garden dragon and water sand play area

March also brought H’s first proper gig – Adele at the O2. It was both of our first time going there. I booked us a hotel nearby so we didn’t have to get all the way home afterwards – and had a brilliant evening. H loved it too! Adele is one of her favourites and I’ve enjoyed working on her records for these last few years.

The following day we took the Thames Ferry to the Tower of London using our HRP membership to get in free. Again, loads of fun and we got our money’s worth.

Easter was an Emmett’s Gardens and Chartwell visit, as our National Trust membership was getting a bit unused, and National Trust always have the best Easter Egg trails. It didn’t disappoint.

Our Merlin Passes were also quite neglected so we made our first trip to Legoland, choosing a rainy day which was a bit cold. It seemed to work, and we got on most rides without a queue. We even managed Mia’s Riding School three or four times in a row before I had to stop.

When your gas boiler is switched off for safety reasons, Leaky Flue Safety Warning Gas Boiler

April brought the weird stuff. We found out we had a carbon monoxide leak at home, which explained a lot of things. Forgetfulness? Tick. Feeling sick a lot? Definitely. Just being sick without any reason? Been there, done that. Our boiler was taken out of action and a plan was set, to get central heating put in when we went on holiday in July. Mainly as it would be so disruptive so we wanted to be away from it all. Every morning I had staggered to work like I was hungover, wondering when the virus would shift. It had never occurred to me it was this. Once the boiler was shut off I never felt like it again. We’ve since bought more carbon monoxide alarms. Too close a call. But why did it affect just H and I? I think because Shaun falls asleep downstairs and would often leave the heating on. I’d go to bed at 11pm and eventually come downstairs to shut off the heating at 2am. Because the leak was in the loft, both H and I were exposed to it more than Shaun as he was downstairs.

That’s my only explanation.

I got out to some gigs in April too – Lush reformed and I had a rare night out. Just getting onto a train and going across London was making me pretty nervous. It was a great night, I had far too much to drink, and the night was to be repeated a month or so later but with Shaun while H went on a sleepover.

Getting to work became an issue. Southern Trains were becoming increasingly rubbish and I was having a lot of palpitations. One day I got into work and burst into tears which isn’t like me at all. One word – perimenopause. I’ve done several things to calm the symptoms, they still happen especially the anxiety, but I’m learning to control it. I had a Mirena fitted which is helping a lot too. I had a journey home with the best train driver ever.

Wembley Stadium players warm up

May also brought our annual trip to Wembley to watch the Women’s FA Cup Final. It’s good fun, cheap and I’ve already bought tickets for next year – they’re on sale now – and kids go free. It’s a great atmosphere!

We also saw Horrible Histories at Hampton Court – a great setting for a great show. H and her friend M really enjoyed it.

We popped to Kew to view Kew Palace on our HRP membership. Don’t forget to print out your 2 for 1 vouchers beforehand like we did… you don’t get in free to Kew with HRP, you get a discount. 2 for 1 works out a bit cheaper too – meant we had more money to spend in the shops there!

June brought our second trip to Wembley. I bought tickets for England’s last friendly before the World Cup. H has finally seen Harry Kane play football (and Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker). Next season we’ll try a Tottenham game. We missed the National Anthem thanks to it taking forever to get into Wembley, but caught the majority of the game.

harry potter tour broom training

June also brought our trip to the WB Studio Tour. H is a fully-fledged Harry Potter convert now – she has seen all the films and knows more about each character than me. She has also read my books more than I have… We all really enjoyed it – even Shaun who tolerates it (and usually falls asleep in the films). We’ll be going back when we can save enough money – maybe for Hogwarts at Christmas in 2017.

June also brought a trip to Southampton to see the touring production of Mary Poppins on stage. The production was nowhere near London so we decided to make a night of it, and booked into the Ibis there (which H loved as it had a bunk bed over our double bed). We had seen it way before H was born, and loved it again. Zizi Strallen is an excellent Mary.

BML with mary drinking fizz

June also brought BritMums which I really enjoyed, hanging out all day with Mary who is excellent company.

July brought the Bottersnikes and Gumbles preview where we interviewed one of the characters and found out the recording didn’t work. My memory was still a bit rubbish so I can’t remember anything he said either. I fail. H was interviewed for CBBC but it wasn’t used (I thought that might happen, she was quiet).

Yurt Life at Kingsdown Centre - wonderful setting!

July was also the start of our holidays, heading to Cornwall again. We stopped in Weston Super Mare on the way down, wandered around there and made the most of late evening beach walks, donkey rides, fish & chips and relaxing.

The following day we arrived at Hallagenna Cottages in St Breward, and had a lovely week there discovering loads of new places. Up the road at Coombe Mill The Boy and Me gang were staying. H and The Boy both got on famously, so next year we’re going back to Coombe Mill to stay!

OMG We're Staying at Coombe Mill next year face

I love Cornwall. Great beaches, great weather and having a proper holiday is always a good thing.

On the way back to London we stayed in a Yurt at the Kingsmead Centre which was loads of fun!

We used our Merlin Passes and visited Weymouth Sea Life on the way back to London.

H in front of the Disneyland Castle

August arrived. We had a short break to Paris planned which didn’t break the bank. We stayed near the Eiffel Tower for a couple of nights. After that we headed to Disneyland Paris and H didn’t have a CLUE! She also got in for free as if you’re six, then that’s what happens. She was seven the following day – and it counts from check-in date. We also managed to do Jedi Training Academy. So that was her surprise 7th birthday treat. We had glorious weather and needed a month to recover afterwards.

In September H moved up to Junior school. She has settled well and is loving it. Her confidence is growing too which is great. She also started Brownies and had moved up a level in swimming at the end of summer to Stage 5.

Because it was a new school we didn’t do a huge amount in September, although made it to Hampton Court again.

H and Milo the Giant African Millipede from Wild Fangs

October was busier though, with H’s birthday party which she really enjoyed.

At the end of October we headed back to York to see my mum, staying there for the first time in a long time. H loved spending time with her nana, and I loved stopping and recharging my batteries. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the whole of half term off, so we took H out of school for two days so she won’t get her 100% attendance this term.

We visited Fountains Abbey with my sister and her boys too.

We also found time to visit Alton Towers which I’d spent plenty of time at in the eighties. I recognised parts, but not that much really, although I’d occasionally have moments where I’d say “Hang on? Wasn’t The Corkscrew there?” and be right.

Fireworks at Carshalton Ponds

November was Bonfire Night which was fun – we stayed by our local ponds and had great views, rather than enter the park and have some views. The end of the year is all about saving money! I booked a ticket for Blogfest earlier in the year and attended but it wasn’t the same. I don’t think I’ll be going next year.

We went to Epsom Downs and saw the supermoon which gave me lots of silhouette photos I do love to take. We planted Miffy Tulips, and got some mesh to put over our plant pot so the foxes won’t dig it up. H did her Brownie promise and remembered it, and I wore my leaders uniform for the first time and felt like I had confidence to do it.

December. We had the school fair (which H helped me on the stall with – see, this is a new confidence she’s found. She used to hide behind me), she has moved up a level at swimming to Stage 6. She has lost two more teeth taking it to 10 total, and is almost there with her handwriting at school, holding out for a pen licence.

Completely unexpected, but H was Star of the Term as voted for by her teachers. She ran up to me incredibly proud in the playground. Their note sums it up. I love that the unexpected things make everything feel even better.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

We went back to York for the York Panto which was Cinderella. H got her name read out in the shoutouts part of the production which she loved – and she got a Wagon Wheel! I am still persuading her not to eat it…

We had two visits to see Father Christmas. One was at Chessington Garden Centre and the other at Tottenham’s ground. Of the two, the Tottenham one was the best – he was really warm, fun and engaging and had H chatting. I asked him if he could make sure Tottenham win the league for my present and we all left feeling cheery (but I don’t think he’ll have much luck with that, another good season would be good).

We’re finishing the year off inviting neighbours around to our house. This is a big one for us – until now I’ve felt like our house is too small, though a friend did it last year and made me realise it could be done. Then we had H’s party which proved over 20 people could be in our house with room to spare. My biggest problem had been our heating. It was fine us living here with the crappy heating which I always hated and felt like it only warmed the landing upstairs and our front room – but now we have proper central heating. This house is welcoming again… though I suspect our 1st January trip to the seaside may need to be postponed by a day… that and I’m sure our car won’t make it there and back!

So what will 2017 bring? I know my aches and pains and anxiety aren’t going to go away, but I’ve found if I keep myself busy it helps it not be at the forefront of my mind. I’m going to progress with my training to be a Guide Leader though I’m still not sure I want to be in charge. But we’ll cross that bridge…

We’ve taken out Historic Houses Association membership so at some point we’ll get to Hever Castle which we’ve wanted to visit for a while. We’ll probably need to buy a new car as ours is on its last legs.

See you, 2016. You’ve been busy.

When Your Gas Boiler Leaks.

Anyone who knows me knows how I’ll often blog about most things, but I’ve struggled with this one – mainly because everything is still processing in my head. This is what happens when your gas boiler leaks.

Gas boiler leaks aren’t something that ever crossed our minds. We have a Carbon Monoxide detector next to the boiler, that’s enough, right?

We rent, and in doing so receive an annual Gas Safety Check, to make sure everything is safe. Ours was the Saturday morning – the man came really early, earlier than he’d planned and yet again I got up to deal with it, feeling groggy and a bit dizzy as the virus I’ve had since January didn’t seem to want to shift.

He asked to have a look in the loft. Shaun let him up there, and he came back down pretty quickly. This got placed on our boiler.

When your gas boiler is switched off for safety reasons, Leaky Flue Safety Warning Gas Boiler, Gas boiler leaks

Apparently the flue which links the boiler pipes from inside the house to outside have come away – rusted or rotted or something, but away. Fumes have been living in our loft, being inhaled by Shaun, H and I.

This is what happens when your gas boiler leaks.

Which explains a lot about my dizziness I’ve felt every single morning. Some mornings I’d stagger to the train feeling like I was drunk, not understanding why the virus wasn’t shifting as I’d definitely had nothing to drink so couldn’t blame that. The idea that it could be carbon monoxide didn’t even occur to me. I had no idea that such a thing was in the loft anyway.  You know when you’re ignorant to things, not because you choose to be, but because it’s not the kind of thing you’d think about. That’s me. I mean, it makes perfect sense the fumes have to leave the house somewhere. But it’s not the kind of thing I’d think about.

Because I was too busy, too dizzy with work and life to go to the doctor to get checked out. H kept saying she felt sick without actually being sick. Because Shaun was tired a lot. It was “the virus that wouldn’t shift”. Right?

Now, I don’t think things were at a critical level, but I do believe we’ve been affected by it. Fortunately we get out of the house and open the windows, and with this winter being so mild, there has been plenty of air circulating around the house. (I even had washing out on the line in January)

Had it been colder, it doesn’t bear thinking what could have happened. I’m trying not to think what could have happened – but the reality is in that Sliding Doors other universe it really could have happened and we didn’t realise.

We have a Carbon Monoxide detector downstairs next to the heater (and it’s an awful hot air style heater – with air vents upstairs and downstairs) which didn’t react – obviously because it’s all going on up in the loft. So we’re lucky in that respect. We’re getting another Carbon Monoxide detector in the loft as a matter of priority.

But yet again, I hadn’t thought about it and just assumed you’d need a detector near the boiler, which makes sense.

Since our gas got turned off I haven’t felt dizzy once. H hasn’t felt sick, although Shaun is still sleepy – then again, he’s always been a bit sleepy! Which is when the penny dropped really, that and thanks to Facebook friends pointing it out.

So now we have to wait for our landlady to decide what she’s going to do. After our £230 monthly increase last year, I’m pretty sure we’ll get another whopping great big rise this year to pay for this; the joys of renting privately.

I have the clearest head I’ve had in a long time (I started feeling ill in January), and I’m not sure what to do next. Thank goodness we don’t spend a lot of time at home and get out quite a lot. That the weather was good. Thank goodness it was in the loft and not in the house. Thank goodness we had a Carbon Monoxide detector downstairs.

I am relieved we get an annual Gas Safety Check. If you’re reading please make sure you do. Please don’t put it off. My friends who own their place pay for British Gas to check theirs – and I’m sure plenty of other companies offer this service.