Sunday, October 25, 2009
This summer, at the beginning of August, I was once again hospitalized for asthma problems, complicated by pneumonia. I have to say, it was my own fault - I'd been overdoing, rushing from one activity to another, and, as a consequence, not regularly taking my meds. Too often, they were in one location, and I was in another.
Most importantly, I'd violated my cardinal rule - when traveling, take along the nebulizer - AND the meds.
However, the burning the candle at both ends was the precipitating factor. I'd just become exhausted, and continued to try to function.
I have to remember that Ecclesiates verse:
A Time for Everything
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?
10 ¶ I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
I have some trouble "enjoying the good" - I tend to want to accomplish all that I can. Maybe I should also post that other poem about ceaseless striving:
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Anyway, don't run yourself into the ground, and take all your meds on time.
Do as I say, not as I do.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Asthma 101 for Bystanders
At the time, I didn’t quite know how to answer him. If he were to ask me today, I’d have to say, “Well, no.”
I don’t generally give those kinds of answers to people outside my immediate family. Right now, I’m on a college campus, in the dorms. I share a 4-person suite, with a common room in the middle. I’ve been sitting there for over 2 hours.
I woke up coughing around 2 am. It was the characteristic dry, unproductive cough of an asthmatic. Cough drops don’t help much, if any. The problem isn’t to calm down the cough (at least from my perspective), it’s to medicate to make it more effective in moving that gunk in the lungs.
In asthma, the bronchial tubes narrow. Initially, it’s a spasm that makes it hard to move out of the lungs. Funnily enough, getting air in is not a problem. The bigger issue is the build-up of CO2. Later, the respiratory system becomes swollen and inflamed, making it necessary to use medication long after the initial attack.
Triggers for attacks vary. Many asthmatics have allergies, and experience seasonal recurrences. Catching a cold generally will mandate increased vigilance in monitoring, as a side effect is to exacerbate the condition.
Right now, I’m at the end of a sinus infection, which led to an acute episode at the end of May. I’m still experiencing difficulties. I just finished a round of steroids, which usually lead to a bout of insomnia, in addition to the weight gain and stomach distress. Hours of fun.
One of my roommates came in with cough syrup. I declined the offer, which puzzled her some. She then offered cough drops, which I accepted.
I started to explain why cough suppressant wasn’t a good idea (I’m trying to move stuff out of my system, and the coughing, while annoying, helps that process). But then I realized that a deep discussion wasn’t indicated at 3 in the morning, and took the offered assistance.
Some things to know if you meet an asthmatic in distress:
- If they’re coughing uncontrollably, don’t ask questions. We can’t answer when we can’t breathe. If you feel the need to help, try getting some water, and leave it nearby. Offer to take them to the hospital, but if they decline, accept it. Generally, an adult asthmatic knows what to do.
- Don’t feel compelled to offer gratuitous comments (i.e., “are you coughing up a lung?”, “do you know how irritating that is?”) I’ve heard them before – yes, I do realize how irritating that continual dry cough can be – you should hear it from my side.
- It’s a bad idea to try to suppress that cough. The better plan is to make it more effective (usually with emergency meds, like the inhaler). It won’t stop immediately after use, so don’t be surprised that we continue coughing. Hopefully, after a while (15-30 minutes for the hand-held inhaler, sooner for the nebulizer machine), you’ll hear the even more irritating sound of a barking, productive cough. That’s a good thing, although somewhat gross for others of delicate sensibilities.
- Yeah, I know it’s ruining your sleep. I don’t do it deliberately. It’s ruining mine even more. I have to stay relatively vertical. Laying down makes the situation worse. So, expect me to be dragging the next day. I’m used to it. However, I really like it when you take over the next afternoon and I can get a nap. I really do try to keep from disturbing others. Sometimes, if I can, I leave common areas entirely. I’ve been known to spend time sleeping in my car if the house is small. In a strange city, that’s just not safe.
- For my breathing ease, cool is better. Even with a cold, it’s easier to breathe when the air is cool. So, don’t turn up the thermostat – grab a sweater. In the summer, air conditioners are a lifesaver. Ignore the cost of running it, and keep it on. Stuffy rooms set me off.
- Don’t suggest I take off work or school. I can’t afford it, and I’m not contagious. Cut me a little slack to leave the room to medicate or get some water or tea.
- Asthma is called ROAD – Reversible Obstructive Airway Disease. It can be manageable with medication, and, if properly controlled, doesn’t have to shorten my life. When not in crisis, I’m as healthy as anyone.
- Never, never, never smoke around an asthmatic. We won’t drop dead right there, but later we’ll flare up in an acute attack. Be careful about seating at barbeques also – smoke is smoke, and it drives me nuts. I’ve sometimes had problems with nearby neighbors in the city. Consider using propane rather than charcoal – the smoke is less.
- Young adult asthmatics generally don’t show major problems. By that, I mean you don’t hear the wheezing, and sometimes they think they’ve “outgrown” the problem. Don’t you believe it. They still have the condition, although they aren’t showing obvious symptoms. That’s because the larger bronchial tubes of an adult move air without the audible wheezing sound. But, they’re still twitchy, and can be damaging the respiratory system. A better indicator of distress is the peak flow meter. Asthmatics should have one handy, and check several times a day. Waiting until symptoms present is a bad idea. It’s better to rely on the meter, and adjust medication appropriately.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Bad day today
When I returned home, I started steroids, and stepped up my plan. Tomorrow, I'll call my doctor.
Aside from a nasty respiratory infection, there's been nothing to set me off.
Right now, I'm amusing myself by blowing steam rings.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
I'm a homeowner
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Thursday, July 14, 2005
A GOOD WEEK
The weather hasn't helped. It's still muggy and stifling. The temperature went down last night, though, enough so I could cool off the house by opening windows. Before that, I was using air conditioning almost exclusively. I hate to think of the electric bill this month.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
HUFFING & PUFFING
Yes, I know it's July in Cleveland, and, compared to many already-sweltering cities, cool and pleasant.
I'm still sticky and breathing with effort.
Actually, my peak flow is good - I've been improving since my last Prednisone burst. My environment has contributed to that. I've been cleaning, organizing, and removing dust-collecters. With my husband out of town for 2 weeks, I expect my son and I to make major progress. It's always so much easier to throw out someone else's stuff than your own.