asthma


Before Christmas, my mom said that she had a sinus infection, so I knew that I, at some point, would also have a sinus infection. I know that they aren’t supposed to be contagious, but my immune system has yet to figure that out. Well, a couple of days after Christmas, it finally showed up. It seemed to be really nasty on Tuesday, almost gone on Wednesday, and back by Thursday. But when I woke up on Friday morning, I knew something was horribly off. I was coughing more than I usually do, which is pretty amazing considering that I cough on a daily basis. My left eye was runny. At first I thought it was just tears from the pressure of the infection, until I decided to wipe my eye with a facial tissue.12 It wasn’t tears. It was pus. As the night went on, my eye kept getting more red. My cough was also increasing and I was starting to have trouble breathing.3 I went to bed and was trying to get comfortable but I just couldn’t breathe. Eventually, I called the on-call doctor and she told me to get my butt to the ER for a breathing treatment. Unfortunately, getting to the ER at about 4:30 in the morning is not the best way to get quick treatment. Most of the ER shuts down after midnight until 8 in the morning, even on the last weekend of the year. I was triaged quickly and had an X-ray, blood work, and EKG hours before a bed was available for my butt. I waited around 4 hours for that bed and my breathing just kept feeling like it was getting worse; my eye was also getting more nasty by the minute. Oh, and my infamous cough was starting to scare everyone in the waiting room. When I first got to the ER, one or two people had on masks. By the time I was called back to a room, almost everyone had one on. I honestly started to empathize with Typhoid Mary at that point. It’s odd to be treated like a biohazard when you can’t breathe. After the sun came out and the television had gone from infomercials & overnight news to Saturday morning children’s programs, I was called back to a room. It was another hour before I had my breathing treatment, and another hour after that before the doctor could secure the “eye room” to do a proper examination of my eye. He4 wasn’t sure if the conjunctivitis had caused any lasting damage to my eye, so he wanted to view it under a slit lamp. The room was empty and across the hall, so I’m not totally sure why it took so long or why, after it was over, I wasn’t allowed to just walk right back across the hall to my assigned bed. While I was in the eye room, the nurse brought me three 20mg prednisone tablets. She kept asking later if the steroids were helping. I kept responding that I couldn’t tell if the steroid was working, but that I knew that the breathing treatment had helped. By noon, I was being discharged with a diagnosis of conjunctivitis and bronchitis. I also had a prescription for the ophthalmic version of Neosporin ointment.5 I didn’t have any prescriptions for the bronchitis. I guess that they thought they had done enough to help get that under control.6 Since it was a holiday weekend, I couldn’t get in to see the family doctor until at least Tuesday, so I was trying desperately to make it through without going to the hospital again. There were a few times when I didn’t think I would make it. But I did. Instead of getting a Tuesday appointment, I got a Wednesday one and the family doctor, who I don’t always agree with, agreed with my belief that the Emergency Room doctor should have given me a prescription for another 4 days worth of prednisone. Because it had been five days since the initial dose, he had to start me on a new 5 day course of the drug. He also told me to use my inhaler regularly until I was feeling better. I’ve spent most of the last week just trying to pass the time. I’ve been avoiding social media and anything that required any real energy usage. I became even more of a recluse with a sad, unfulfilling life7 and a penchant for tantrums89 while I was recovering. Kidding.10 Fancy talk for a Kleenex. ↩Really fancy talk for a Kleenex from a Star Wars box. ↩No, I don’t always have trouble breathing when I cough. I cough like healthy people do healthy stuff. Cough variant asthma is the funnest. ↩Yeah, I never got to see the on-call doctor I had talked to on the phone. ↩No, really. ↩They hadn’t. ↩Did I mention that that creep has a reference to me in his Twitter bio? ↩Oh, he had more words for me after I turned down his altruistic offer of a possible book deal: I tried at least. BTW, I’ve been a pro writer since 1983. You have no idea how much damage you’ve done to your writing career before it even got started. No agent, no publisher, will want to deal with someone who intends to damage another writer’s sales over a disagreement on social media. They’d be too worried you would do the same to them if you ever got mad at them. Easier to give you a form rejection and move on. And trust me, this little tantrum you threw on Goodreads is going to be seen by every agent and publisher you submit to when they Google your name. Good luck with your career. I think you’re going to need it. Yep. Now he wants me to be afraid that I will never be published because I didn’t take kindly to his insults and his tacit support of a friend’s outright bigotry. ↩It takes chutzpah to say a woman would be a […]

From My Sinuses, With Love


Well, I got in the tube thing for my pulmonary function test. I will find out what’s causing my shortness of breath at the beginning of January.1 I watched as the chart filled in and the numbers popped up. I assumed that black numbers were normal and red were abnormal. There were quite a few red ones, which isn’t that weird since I have asthma. What was weird was that my breathing got worse after they gave me a nebulizer treatment. They give patients a bronchodilator to see if it improves the breathing, which is the expected result for anyone who takes a bronchodilator. Hell, even being ineffective but not worsening it is an expected result. Paradoxical responses are, well, paradoxical. They aren’t expected because they’re the opposite of what is supposed to happen. It’s kind of like if a mug of pens fell and the pens floated to the ceiling. Okay, well, not really because that might mean that the universe is broken, but it’s freakish. There is one instance where the reaction makes sense: if the test was done with theophylline. It used to work fine for easing my breathing issues, but, as my caffeine allergy worsened, my tolerance threshold for theophylline got worse and worse. Theophylline and caffeine are both types of xanthines. Theophylline doesn’t always cause the allergic angina, but it does cause a headache, paresthesia/buzzing, and some other unpleasantness. Today’s treatment caused all of the non-angina unpleasantness, so I guess that’s what they used. If it is, that was pretty shitty of them. I mean, seriously. It’s like if I told them that I definitely had a penicillin allergy and they injected me with penicillin without telling me what it was.2 And the results could have been just as severe. It only worsened my breathing, caused a headache, and caused neurological symptoms. It could have killed me. When I say it was pretty shitty, I mean it was fucking dangerous as hell. Eventually, I’ll find out the results or my doctor’s office will kill me. Fingers crossed, right? Unless I find out sooner. ↩I have had doctors prescribe penicillin even after I told them I was allergic, but no secret injections. ↩

Who Needs to Breathe?



I have what feels like a sinus infection, which is quite lovely1 and definitely didn’t happen on a week where I need to be at my best.2 It’s not like I have a pulmonary function test in around twelve hours.3 A month ago, I definitely didn’t schedule my road test for my driver license4 for this coming Thursday.5 So it’s not like this is an inconvenience of the grandest kind.6 Yeah, this definitely isn’t pleasant.7 I would have rescheduled my pulmonary function test, but I’m actually hoping that my inability to breathe through my nose8 will be helped during the test. There’s also the hope that the inability to breathe properly in general will be helped by doing this test.9 If I hadn’t waited until last Thursday to get my driver permit, I wouldn’t worry so much about this impacting the road test.10 It still might be okay, unless I’m unable to practice tomorrow. If that happens, it sort of fucks with any plans that I made for driving myself around after the 15th.11  Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’m determined to do this, even if it is the fucking worst idea I’ve ever had.12 It’s not like I can go to the doctor to get something to treat this.13 So I shall suffer in silence.14 Think happy thoughts for me, and maybe my suffering15 won’t last that long.   Not. ↩Oh, it so totally did. ↩Yep. ↩That thing that I put off getting for almost 17 years. ↩Oh, but I did. ↩If you haven’t noticed, this post is dripping with sarcasm–kind of like how my sinuses are dripping with…Sorry for the imagery. ↩Understatement of the year. ↩Not an understatement. ↩I’ve got high hopes… ↩But I thought that giving myself a week in between would give me plenty of time. ↩Dammit. ↩Surely, it can’t be. ↩Thanks, immune system. ↩I’m going to whine a fuck-ton, so you better get used to it. ↩And yours. ↩

That I Shall Never Breathe Again


Well, I’m anemic, but I’m not. It isn’t my iron that’s low.1 It’s my B12. It’s around 300 pg/mL right now, which is low for most of the world,2 but it’s not low according to American standards.34 Fortunately, the hematologist’s office realizes that those standards are messed up and that a person who takes monthly injections of B12 shouldn’t have a level that low. They also realize that the gastric bypass surgery and my family’s predisposition to the B12 deficiency makes me more likely to have issues absorbing it and maintaining high enough levels. So now I get to re-load on B12. That means 1 shot a day for 7 days, then 1 shot a week for 7 weeks, then 1 shot a month like I’ve been doing for years. Fun, right?5 The nurse practitioner also wants me to be checked out by a pulmonologist6 and, possibly, a cardiologist.7 She definitely wants me to undergo a pulmonary function test. She said that it could be that when I fell  at the pool several weeks ago, the water that I breathed in may have caused some issue in my lungs that I’m just not over yet.8 The other possible thing was the day that my dad put Clorox in the toilet. I didn’t think and I peed in a toilet bowl full of Clorox which led to a rather enjoyable release of chloramine gas.9 I coughed for days afterward and felt like something had scorched my lungs and throat.10 Well, technically, there are other possible reasons for my breathing to be so rough. I do have a history of severe asthma and severe allergies. Vitamin B12 deficiency itself can cause shortness of breath, but it’s a rare occurrence when it happens. Of course, rarities are my specialty.11 I need to go shoot up12 with some cyanocobalamin.13 The magic of birth control pills. ↩The low end of normal elsewhere is around 500 pg/mL. That’s where symptoms like fatigue, pale skin, dementia, etc. start occurring. ↩The low end of the American range is 200 pg/mL. ↩Bad standards. Very bad. ↩If you say yes, then there’s something wrong with you. ↩Lung doctor. ↩I guess because I have ongoing issues with tachycardia. Shortness of breath is linked with tachycardia. ↩Face-planting in the water is dangerous, yo! ↩Yeah, science, bitch! ↩A sane person might have gotten checked by a doctor after that experience, but I’ve never been a sane person. ↩As are face-plants, social awkwardness, and gourmet cooking; a lady must have an entire repertoire of mad skillz. ↩My thigh muscle. ↩Don’t call the cops. It’s totally legal. ↩

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell



I don’t run. I can’t run. I shouldn’t run. I have asthma, Ehlers-Danlos, chondromalacia, arthritis, a murmur, & tachycardia. Running, even jogging, isn’t recommended for me. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. A more accurate statement would be: pretty much any doctor, physical therapist, or other medical professional would rather I be murdered than have me running or jogging. The same goes for how my parents feel about it & how my body feels about this. So I don’t run.  Except I did.  This afternoon.   Because I’m a lot more competitive than I usually will admit to being, I decided I wanted to beat my time from my walk earlier in the afternoon.1 I decided it would be totally safe to jog a total of three or four feet. No big deal, right? Anyone can do that.  I. Was. Wrong.  I didn’t fall. I’m pretty sure I didn’t tear anything. I didn’t stroke out or have a heart attack or an asthma attack. My knee is a little bit swollen & red. It’s not really sore or anything. Just some overuse. I’ll take the day off from walking tomorrow or I’ll do some short walks—something that will let me recover.  I need to remember that I have to be careful with my body, even when I’m feeling super-competitive.  And I totally did. ↩

Jog, Janet, Jog


After yesterday’s appointment with a family practice resident, I have a partial medical clearance to exercise at the Wellness Center. The clearance will be reviewed next month. At that time, I may be given an expanded medical clearance or I may have to wait another month.  The doctor yesterday wasn’t sure why it was denied last week for the Ehlers-Danlos. But he was concerned that it wasn’t denied or limited for other, more dangerous aspects of my health. Specifically, he was worried about the tachycardia and asthma.1 I will be limited for the next month on exercises I’m allowed to do while there. I’m allowed to do pool therapy exercises and walking. The resident and attending aren’t sure my heart and lungs are healthy enough yet for unmonitored/unguided aerobic exercise. The resident hinted that he thinks I may need to see a cardiologist since it has been so long since I’ve seen one.2 At least the whole your-heart-may-not-be-ready-yet reason makes more sense than your-joints-that-sprain-even-when-you-don’t-move-could-sprain-if-you-exercise. Though I am a lot more aware of when my body can handle exercise than people who aren’t me.3  Convincing doctors that I know my body and its limits is next to impossible. Another example of this is that the doctor started to tell me the warning signs with asthma. I’ve had the disease since I was around a year old. I knew the mechanics of asthma by five. I literally had a children’s book that explained the parts of the respiratory system, how allergy triggers work, and why I needed to understand why I couldn’t be around smokers, flowers, dust mites, etc. at that age.4 I don’t smell flowers, go in businesses that allow smoking on the premises, or ignore my unique5 symptoms. I also knew, without him telling me, that I was not supposed to run.6  I don’t want to seem completely ungrateful. I am grateful that I got any release at all. It’s just frustrating to have someone think I don’t get what’s going on. I may seem naïve, but that doesn’t mean I’m not informed.  Oh, I finally got the inhaler prescription that I’d been trying to get for months. I had tried to get other doctors to understand that I needed an inhaler that hadn’t expired two years ago, but it just went in one ear and out the other.  Tachycardia and asthma can be complicated by or occur with/as part of hypermobility issues, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. ↩There is no good reason to do so. The cardiologist said he didn’t think there was anything he could do because treating the tachycardia could complicate other health issues, i.e. my typically low-ish blood pressure. ↩For example, if my heart is just at 100-115, starting to exercise is fine. 120 is okay if it’s very, very low impact. 130-140 is no exercise, relaxation techniques need to be started. 140+ is hospital-worthy. ↩When I was four, I was admitted to the pediatric unit of Huntsville Hospital with my asthma. Lung and allergy doctors, as well as my parents, decided I was old enough to understand my disease. ↩I have cough variant asthma, which means I don’t wheeze and may have no other symptoms besides coughing, even mid-attack. ↩I’ve never really run in my life because I’ve had asthma since I was a baby. ↩

Rápido



It is summertime, also known as my least favorite time of the year.  Yes, storms are more prevalent in spring and fall, while winter makes my bones and joints ache.  But summer has always held the position as the least favorite season for one simple reason: the weather makes me completely miserable. The dew point, which is the saturation temperature and is a better way to read the humidity than the relative humidity scale, is high.  Though the temperature is currently 77°F (25°C), which is about 13°F lower than it is in Philadelphia right now, the dew point here is 73°F. Philadelphia’s dew point is 66°F. Though 66° is a pretty high dew point and is uncomfortable, 73° is a lot worse. Just being a degree different at this level is a significant difference in the comfort level. The difference is especially difficult with people who have lung issues. I’ve had to be acutely aware of humidity since I was a little kid. High humidity (which is a constant in Huntsville) has always been an issue, even when it is cold and humid. Hot, humid air is the hardest for me to breathe, though. Always has been and probably always will be. So, I get to spend summer after summer inside with the air conditioning maxed out. This is only the case when we actually have working air conditioners. We don’t have a central air conditioning unit, which is probably a rare thing around here. Ours always broke down mid-summer, so we have window air conditioners. The problem with those is that even when you have one in every window, they don’t always want to work. Right now we have 2 of the five cooling. A third is only able to work on fan mode. The one in my bedroom hasn’t worked in a while, thus I don’t go into my bedroom during the summer. (I sleep in the recliner in the living room.) The one that is in the bedroom that belonged at different times to Stephanie, Elijah, and Dadada hasn’t worked in a very long time. So the house isn’t very cool. In fact, it is extremely hot and uncomfortable. Even in the dead of night, the air is so uncomfortable that the house feels like a sauna.

It’s Like A Heat Wave