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A Visitor From The Past

I have been out sick for a week as I was visited by an old visitor from the past that I had thought I had outgrown. ASTHMA. Gasping for breath is scary; but even more frightening is hearing mysterious sounds as you lay in bed that nobody else can hear. As a psychologist, I know about hearing voices and these would even wake me up in the middle of the night.  Once, I got admitted, I think the hospital staff must have thought I was crazy.  This was a strange illness because I got very sick before I sought treatment.  I did not run a temperature.  I just got out of breath.  Even my oxygen percentages were good.  My heart rate was normal.  I had just run out of steam.  However, I was very relieved when they hooked me up with oxygen; pumped me up with steroids, and admitted me from the Emergency Room.   Missed church that morning and didn’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day or should I say Grandmother’s Day.

Once, I got admitted, I think the hospital staff must have thought I was crazy.  This was a strange illness because I got very sick before I sought treatment.  I did not run a temperature.  I just got out of breath.  Even my oxygen percentages were good.  My heart rate was normal.  I had just run out of steam.  However, I was very relieved when they hooked me up with oxygen; pumped me up with steroids, and admitted me from the Emergency Room.   Missed church that morning and didn’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day or should I say Grandmother’s Day.

I am now on all sorts of asthma drugs.  I am feeling better.  I am home and laying around.  Just going to the doctor wore me out and I can’t talk too much without getting breathless.  However, I have been having some feelings of Deja Vue as I remember feeling this way as a child desperate for air and also coughing my guts up.  Must have really scared my parents.  This was a common thing for me in the winter as I grew up.

I was told I would grow out of it and I thought I did but on a rare occasion I would have that familiar gasping for breath and would have to leave where I was and do something to catch my breath.  I usually was apologetic and would leave wherever I was so as to not cause others any concern about me in order to calm down and get over the spell of being out of breath.

Scarier even yet is recently I have begun to have strong allergy reactions to air bound particles.  Fortunately, I recognised what was going on and got myself out of the situation either under my own power or with the help of friends.  I, fortunately, had begun carrying a rescue inhaler.

Also, asthma causes damage that doesn’t go away and can come back to haunt you later.   I know that wood smoke (yes, fireplaces) is difficult for me to breath; but until we started to worry about second-hand smoke, people just thought I was a party pooper if I reacted to things like cigarette smoke and wood smoke.  I could also detect strong chemicals in the air just by the way they made me feel.

I had years of bronchitis but I didn’t think of it as asthma related.  I would continue to go to go to work and would hope that I could control my cough when I had to talk to patients.  I knew that it was probably not catching and would eventually go away on its own although that might take a long time.  Once the air got cold, I had to throw a scarf around my mouth or have a coughing fit.  It didn’t help that I was a mouth breather either.

I didn’t know that I had a bunch of unhappy bronchioles swollen that wouldn’t let my air get out so I could breathe back in.  It was these guys that were making the wheezing noises I could hear.  Chest x rays didn’t show anything so that wasn’t a path to treatment either.

If you feel sick, you are sick.  Keeping going until you find effective treatment.  Don’t apologize for something you can’t help doing.  Yes, it is going to make some trouble for other people and you might be the center of attention for awhile  It is your turn to seek and receive help.  Don’t die trying to cover it up and not inconveniencing people.

P.S., I now have a preliminary diagnosis, pulmonary hypertension which was given after I had an echocardiogram of my heart.  For your information, previous to that I passed certain breathing tests with flying colors.  My oxygen percentiles were high.  They were consistently in the 90’s.  I passed a breathing test.  This was the second time I had done so.  My lung x-rays were clear ( I had two recent ones).  Therefore, I was not put on oxygen when I went home although it was very helpful while I was in the hospital.

Fortunately, my nurse practitioner had another idea about what was wrong.  She said I might be overworking my heart to keep my oxygen percentiles high.  This is what appears to be happening and it didn’t show up until I had the echocardiogram of my heart.  Curious enough I have had previous echocardiograms where it didn’t show up.  I am waiting on my heart doctor to review the findings and to confirm the diagnosis although that may take further tests.

So what is my conclusion?  It is that sometimes when you think you are sick, you are really sick and don’t stop seeking help!  Look at my case.