Most people will tell you Im one of the sweetest, most caring people you’ll ever meet. But make no mistake, when Im recovering from a bad asthma exacerbation, I can become an obnoxious asshole…
I get anxious, I get irritable, I get angry and nasty all at the same time. I snap at everyone and everything. The slightest annoyance sends me into rage mode.
90% of this behavior is caused by the medications. Everyone is different, but Prednisone in doses greater than 30 mg makes me totally psychotic. My brain goes a million miles a second and I can’t control my emotions.
You would think that after being on the drug for 60 years that it would have less an effect, but just the opposite is true for me.
The catch 22 with steroids and asthma, is that as you wean off the drug, your lungs tend to get tight again and your shortness of breath increases making you even more irritable. When the effort of breathing becomes overwhelming you’re forced to increase the prednisone again, which makes you psychotic again. It’s a horrible cycle that unfortunately, most medical providers, loved ones and the public at large dont have the slightest clue about.
If you’ve never had a lung disease like asthma or COPD, you probably have no idea what it actually feels like to breath as they say ….”through a straw”. That weak analogy doesn’t even come close to the actual feeling. Sure it’s tough to breath through a little straw, but just try breathing through that same little straw continuously 24 hours a day, for days or even weeks at a time without at break. Trust me , it’s a situation you never want to be in. It’s scary ,it’s exhausting and it’s mentally draining. Add to that, the stresses of being in a hospital intensive care unit and sleep deprived, it should be no big surprise that we go partially insane while we’re recovering.
So, does this mean a person with breathing problems has earned the right to be cranky? I don’t think most of us actually have a say in the matter. While we can certainly make ourselves a little more aware of the potential for acting out during the aftermath of a bad flare, the side effects of the drugs and the breathlessness that we have to deal with makes it extremely difficult to control our outward emotions. Maybe the best thing to do is warn the people around us ahead of time, that we are probably not going to be very fun to be around during our recovery period. People need to be patient and give us some extra space till we get over the hump.
And word of advice, please don’t try to talk to us a lot if we’re having a difficult time breathing. Try to communicate with in a way that doesn’t require a lot of verbal responses on our part. You have no idea how much it takes out of person just to talk or answers question when they can’t breath. And when people keep it up, it just pisses us off more.
Until they invent alternative medications or treatment for severe asthma, I will mostly likely continue to be a jerk when Im sick. Im sorry about that, but I already have a lot on my plate without having to worry if Ive offended someone. Believe me , there’s plenty of guilt to deal with after we finally start to feel better.