Saturday, January 10, 2015

My illness identified

Well, turns out that I've been suffering with asthma all this time.  Actually, I'm still suffering with it.
Broke down and sought medical treatment again yesterday because I was clearly getting worse.  It being Friday, my family physician is not in but I saw a Nurse Practitioner who was both personable and knowledgeable.
She thoroughly examined me and ruled out pneumonia or any presence of infection at this point.
Then the discussion turned to asthma.
She asked how often I have to use my rescue inhaler and I explained that I don't often use it.  My asthma is cold-air induced.  And as I said that, a little light bulb went on.  This whole mess started last Sunday -- the day I cleared a path in the snow on the deck so I could get to the bird feeders to fill them.
Hmmmmmmmm.  You think?  (The last time I cleared snow to get to the bird feeders -- several years ago now -- I ended up at emergency, so serious was the asthma attack!)
So we talked about that for a while.
But I was there because it had gotten so much worse on Tuesday night.  The coughing just became so severe that I was up most of that night and the next.
As she was telling me what she wanted me to do to manage the symptoms, one of her suggestions was to apply Vicks to my chest at bedtime.  Might help give me some relief.
That's when the next light bulb went on.  John had convinced me to use Vicks on Tuesday night and I had suggested to him the next morning that I was sure it made me worse because I hadn't been coughing that badly before I used it.
"Stay away from the Vicks then," she said.  "It can cause an asthmatic response in some people."
Who knew?
So, my instructions, for the next two weeks at least, are:
  • use my sinus rinse three times a day
  • increase my puffer from two times a day to three times a day
  • use a nasal spray twice a day (new prescription)
  • use a humidifier in the bedroom (I was already doing that)
  • sleep in an upright position (such a comfortable way to sleep!)
If I'm not seeing an improvement by Monday, I'm to go back to see her.

As an interesting aside here, I am now the proud owner of a Fitbit Flex.  It tracks my sleep pattern.
Prior to Sunday (when I moved that snow), I was waking up two-three times a night.
On Sunday night I was awake 11 times.
But then on Tuesday, the night I used the Vicks, I was awake 15 times.
On Wednesday and Thursday, 16 and 14 times respectively.
But last night, I broke the bank.  After using all the above methods of treatment (but not three times, mind you) to help get this under control, I awoke 24 times!  At one point, I was coughing so badly, John was pounding on my arm telling me to wake up and go rinse my sinuses or do something!  But please stop the coughing!  So the very uncomfortable upright sleeping position did little to alleviate the coughing.
Today is another day and I will be able to implement her suggestions to the full complement.
Let's hope tonight is a better night.  (Tonight, my rescue inhaler will be on the bedside table, at the ready.  Enough already!)
John needs his sleep.

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