Tags: asthma

beyond your front door

Asthmatic bronchitis?

I've been resting and resting, coughing and coughing, but things may finally be improving!

  1. April 7 (seven weeks ago): The cough became violent & my chest often felt tight, like my lungs couldn't inflate enough & I couldn't get enough air. (Apparently, this is what docs call "shortness of breath.")

  2. April 14 (six weeks ago): GP diagnosed bronchitis.

  3. April 29 (exactly one month ago): I saw the pulmonologist. I immediately started taking the meds she prescribed for GERD, allergies, and postnasal drip, but stopped using the asthma inhaler (Advair) after two days, as it seemed to cause a sore throat.

  4. May 5 (six days later): I started seeing a new acupuncturist (because the headaches have reemerged and have sometimes been getting pretty bad again), and she was distressed by the severity of my cough & so began working on my lungs (using needles and cupping).

  5. A few days later: The coughing was still bad enough that, in desperation, I decided to try the asthma inhaler again. I seemed to develop a sore throat again after only one day, and so stopped.

  6. Another couple weeks: I continued seeing the acupuncturist once or twice a week, not sure if I was seeing any results, as the headaches continued & the cough never seemed particularly improved after a session. The coughing sometimes let up for several hours at a time, but always got bad again, especially if I overexerted myself (even by something as simple as folding laundry). I rarely slept more than 5 or 6 hours a night before I woke up coughing. The cough was sometimes still really bad. I tried to sleep/nap whenever I could, but the cough would get so much worse when I lay down that sleep was always hard to come by.

  7. May 20 (nine days ago): I had a few days of coughing that was violent enough to leave me grabbing onto walls or counters to prevent myself from falling down & I was getting little sleep. Desperate (and theorizing that the primary problem was actually asthma, since the treatments relating to the other health issues didn't seem to be making much difference), I phoned the pulmonologist to get another appointment on June 11, a bit less than two weeks from now. I also decided to try the Advair inhaler again & didn't develop a sore throat, and so have continued using it twice daily.

  8. May 25 (four days ago): My friends Daniel and Laura stopped by to visit, and I noticed that I was definitely coughing less. Sleep was still often difficult & I usually woke early due to a light but persistent cough, but I definitely wasn't having any more of the violent coughing fits.

  9. May 26 (three days ago): I started using a cool mist humidifier whenever I sleep (after a recommendation from the acupuncturist and a lot of online research that backed up her theory about it helping with coughing).

  10. May 27 (two days ago): I was feeling stir-crazy enough that I finally rebelled against the "Always Resting" plan & took vigorous 15-minute walk, which felt great. I coughed lightly here & there during; my chest felt even tighter and kind of weird afterward; I coughed a bit more afterward; but mostly I was excited and energized by the exercise. (Note: Due to some other coinciding factors—spending a bunch of money on unnecessary items, suddenly starting a couple of projects—I wondered if my spontaneous brisk walk might be a sign of impending hypomania, which can sometimes be triggered by too little sleep.)

  11. May 28 (yesterday): For the first time in weeks, I went an entire day without taking cough medicine! No Delsym, no Nyquil, no cough drops! I coughed lightly but persistently throughout the day, but it wasn't anything that really affected my functioning.

  12. Today: Frustratingly, I still woke up with a light but persistent cough after only 5 hours of sleep. I think I'm going to go take some cough medicine again.

I notice that the coughing seems to have considerably improved about a week since I started using the Advair inhaler, and wonder if that is what has made the difference. If so, it definitely suggests that asthma is the primary cause of the coughing and the bronchitis. I'm not assuming anything about linearity of improvement, but even if the coughing continues to lessen, I plan to keep my appointment with the pulmonologist on June 11, because I want to talk to her about the asthma issue.

And, in the meantime, I plan to take some more walks & get some exercise and fresh air, watching carefully to see if it causes more coughing. And I plan to return to CWC on Monday, for the first time in almost two months! I've also begun doing my PT stretches much more aggressively throughout the day, because the headaches have been getting bad again. I hope the frequent stretching makes a difference!
girl in tree, hiding

Catching up

LJ Entry

I haven’t written much the past month! Mostly I’ve just been sick & stuck at home, resting, because I’m slowly getting over the bronchitis.

On the Cough

I started the harsh coughing on April 7th & it only subsided in the past week or so. I still tire very easily & start coughing again if I overexert myself. It’s annoying.

The pulmonologist and my PCP both think I might have adult-onset asthma. (They said this when I had bronchitis previously, and theorized it again this time.) The pulmonologist gave me an inhaler med called Advair, but it gave me a sore throat, so I stopped taking it. I phoned & left her a message to this effect, but she never called me back. If I continue to cough when I overexert myself, I’ll phone her again. The inhaler she gave me last time (in 2013) didn’t cause the same problem, so we could try that again if necessary.

Note to self for future reference: The pulmonologist also has me taking omeprazole (for GERD), fexofenadine (for allergies), and Nasonex (for postnasal drip), because she thinks various minor health issues may be combining to contribute to the cough.

On Not Being Able to Do Stuff

Shannon has been incredibly supportive these past several weeks. He’s had to pick up a lot of the household stuff I usually do (laundry, errands, etc.), because stuff wears me out so easily. I wasn’t even able to fold an entire load of laundry the other day before becoming totally exhausted, which left me chagrined. I like to feel independent and capable, so tiring so quickly is frustrating.

Shannon has had the additional stressor of worrying about my activity level, because I habitually overestimate my stamina & want to do too much, so he is constantly urging me, “Take it easy!" When I feel a bit better & stop coughing, I immediately want to return to “normal” & do the things I haven’t been doing … but then I overexert myself & start coughing all over again.

I’ve been trying to live by the motto “Discretion is the better part of valor,” reminding myself that sometimes the best way to fight a war (such as the war against indolence and/or illness) is to avoid fighting until you actually have the strength to do so. It isn’t always wise to fight as hard as you can in the moment. Right now, it is wiser for me to rest, even if I feel like I can/should do more. When I do more, the cough comes back. If I rest well and thoroughly now, then I’ll probably be able to resume “normal life” more quickly than if I keep rushing it & causing set-backs.

It’s difficult, though, to lie around when I don’t feel sick & when Shannon is having to pick up the considerable slack. When I’m coughing my head off, it feels natural to lie on the couch & rest; but when I’m not coughing my head off, I feel like I should be able to do everything I usually do. I’ve been staying in my pyjamas most of the time, because it works as a very effective semaphore to remind me, “You are sick. Even if you don’t feel sick right this very moment, you are getting over an illness. You need to rest, even if you don’t feel like you need it.”

I’m working on it.

On My Social Life (and/or Lack Thereof)

I’ve been mostly housebound for the past 6 weeks, staying in my pyjamas and trying to rest, only leaving for necessary appointments. In my life in general, I have definite hermit tendencies, but lately I’ve been feeling isolated and lonely, since mostly the only people I’ve been seeing have been Shannon, doctors, and my therapist.

I did get together with some friends last Saturday for brunch to celebrate our friend Daniel’s birthday, and that was really fun … but then I coughed violently all day on Sunday, so I guess it was a bit much for me. It was great to see Julia, Crystal, Laura, and Daniel, though!

Also, other friends have been very supportive while I’ve been stuck at home. My friend Alan (not my brother) brought me a loaf of his homemade sourdough bread; Debbie brought me homemade chicken & turkey broths (along with a Zachary’s pizza I’d requested); and Jay brought Thai food for lunch one day. It definitely helps to know that there are people out there who love me, even if I’m not out there doing all the social stuff I usually do.

On Other Health Stuff

Return of the Headaches
My headaches have been making a reappearance, because I haven’t been able to go to acupuncture while I’ve been sick (since it’s a long haul to get there & would wear me out). It’s annoying, but I have an acupuncture appointment on Saturday & I’ve been doing my stretches devotedly, so I’m hoping things will improve soon. The headaches haven’t been constant & haven’t been too severe (never above a 6 or 7 on the 0-10 pain scale), so it isn’t too bad. They’re really more of an annoyance, especially when they wake me up early in the mornings, which they used to do but which hasn’t happened in months … until this past week or so.

Vision
The vision in my left eye is still fuzzy, still at about 20/50. It’s correctable with glasses around -1.00, so I’ve bought a pair of non-prescription glasses to wear when I’m watching tv.

The ophthalmologist says that the lens may have shifted for some reason after the cataract surgery. Apparently, this is extremely rare, but not unheard of. She said that one of her other patients had the same thing happen … and a couple months later, the lens just shifted back into place & the vision went back to 20/20. So mine may shift back or it may not. I’m going back to see her in another month or so to re-check the situation. Thus far, though, it hasn’t improved.

Fitbit
In more exciting health news, I’ve decided to buy a Fitbit wristband, which will track my sleep, exercise, and heart rate. I’m particularly enthused about it tracking my sleep, because that’s been an issue for me for years. It will be nice to have some actual data & see how my sleep interacts with my amount of exercise, what time I go to bed, etc.

I just received my new Fitbit Charge HR in the mail yesterday & started it charging this morning, so I plan to play with it this afternoon.

On All Kinds of Family Stuff

It’s been a weird family month. Mother’s Day triggers emotional stuff for me, but this year it coincided with a lot of other stuff: my grandma (who I was not close to) died the day after Mother’s Day, only a few days before the 8th anniversary of my dad’s death, which was the day before what would have been my dad’s 71st birthday. So I’ve been experiencing some emotional tumult, but don’t feel like going into it right now. Too exhausting. Maybe in another journal entry soon.

On TV

I’ve been watching tons of tv while I’ve been sick and recovering. First, I caught up on “The Vampire Diaries” (which I’d stopped watching about a year ago), then moved on to various stuff via Netflix streaming, including shows called "The 100" and "Switched at Birth" (which was interesting primarily because of its portrayal of deaf culture). Currently, I’m working on “Supernatural,” which has been on my mental list of “stuff to watch someday” for years, because so many people in Buffy fandom were into it. It’s okay. Nothing terribly exciting, but it gives me something to watch, to help keep me sitting/lying still on the couch when I need something to prevent me from running around.

I’ve watched rather more exciting stuff with Shannon, including “Agents of Shield” (which had an excellent season ender!) and “Doctor Who” (catching up through the most recent Christmas special).


But I’ve been working on this journal entry for hours this morning (after accumulating bits for several days) & am exhausted by that effort alone. I think I repeated myself a lot & perhaps rambled, but I’m too tired to worry about editing. I need to get ready to leave for therapy. I'm hoping to have enough energy to go to dinner at IHOP tonight with Shannon.