Coughing Up a Lung

I am sick…again. I know, I know. When am I not sick? This time I ended up going to the ER on Sunday afternoon, only to be prescribed some cough syrup and a new inhaler and sent home. I had called the family doctor on Saturday. The resident on call told me that I should continue to use my rescue inhaler every four hours for the remainder of Saturday. He said that if I was still having the same issues with breathing on Sunday that I needed to go to the ER and have a nebulizer treatment, so I did what he said. I didn’t get a nebulizer treatment, though.

I did get a pregnancy test, which I was a bit pissed over. At some point, Guinness needs to declare me the world record holder for number of pregnancy tests taken by someone who hasn’t had sex. Considering that I have to have them whenever I have a procedure or surgery, certain X-rays, and just about any time that I have to go to the ER, I would say that I’ve had a lot of unnecessary pee stick tests. It took them 3 hours to get me back to X-ray after I had taken the stupid test, which, given the time of year (Christmas/Virgin Mary/etc.), started freaking me out. I mean, why should it take 3 hours to do a stupid pregnancy test that I didn’t really need in the first place? By the way, I’m not pregnant.

When I finally got back to the X-ray area, instead of doing 2 X-rays, one from one view and one from another, I ended up having 5. On the first view, the first one wasn’t clear enough, the second one ended up having the little marker thing right in the middle of my left lung, and apparently the third one was just right. The second view? Well, I guess I didn’t get enough air in the first time, so she had me do it again. At this point, it was getting even more difficult and more painful to breathe.

Then, I went back out to the ER waiting room and waited for about another hour or two. I was finally taken back with two other patients. While the nurse back there was getting me all checked in, the doctor came in, listened to my lungs, and said that I was wheezing some and that he was going to prescribe an inhaler and some cough syrup. No nebulizer. No real big change, except the cough syrup, which I don’t like to take because (1.) it takes crappy and (2.) it makes me feel a little more wonky. He told me that he thought I just had a cold. Yeah, because a person who has no symptoms of an actual cold other than trouble breathing must have a cold.

I kept trying to get across to these people (including the family doctor) that I have cough variant asthma and that the fact that I was wheezing was a sign that the proverbial shit had hit the fan.123

So I’m still feeling like utter shit, coughing, and having trouble breathing. I uploaded a video on YouTube of what the cough is like this time around compared to the way it sounded back in January.

Speaking of videos, I’ve been uploading some of Amy to YouTube. I’ve also been uploading pictures of her from Thanksgiving to Facebook and Flickr. I also uploaded a video of Nana from our belated Thanksgiving dinner telling mom, dad, and me about a recent kitchen disaster. I uploaded it because last year I had a video of my accent, which I try very hard to suppress, and I thought that maybe if people heard the way she spoke, then you would know what accent that I try to make sound as “normal” as possible.


  1. Cough variant asthma is associated with a higher wheezing threshold than classic asthma: The results indicated that the mechanism for the manifestation of cough without wheeze in the cough variant asthma may be a higher wheezing threshold, i.e. wheezing becomes audible at the greater degree of airway obstruction than classic asthma. They suggested that patients with cough variant asthma may represent a subset of asthmatic subjects whose airways are less able to produce a wheeze. 

  2. The Asthma Center: Cough-variant asthma is characterized by a persistent or recurrent dry hacking cough. It is not usually associated with wheezing or shortness of breath; however, patients may complain of chest tightness. Coughing may be provoked by exercise or exposure to strong odors, allergens, or upper respiratory tract infections. Anti-tussives are not very effective in controlling this cough, while treatment with inhaled albuterol (bronchodilator) will often be successful. Response to asthma medication along with evidence of airway hyperreactivity support the diagnosis. 

  3. WebMD: Cough-variant asthma is a type of asthma in which the main symptom is a dry, non-productive cough. (A non-productive cough does not expel any mucus from the respiratory tract.) People with cough-variant asthma often have no other “classic” asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or shortness of breath.

    Cough-variant asthma is sometimes called chronic cough to describe a cough that has lasted longer than six to eight weeks. The coughing with asthma can occur during the day or at night. If you have nighttime asthma, it can interrupt sleep. People with cough-variant asthma often notice that coughing increases with exercise, called exercise-induced asthma. Coughing may increase when they are exposed to asthma triggers or allergy-causing substances like dust or strong fragrances, or when they are in cold air. 

About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.