So my asthma is acting up again and I feel like I have the proverbial elephant sitting on my chest. I say my asthma is acting up, but in actuality it’s always acting up. So I guess what I really mean is that my symptoms are ramping up from my norm, getting more intense by the hour. It’s more difficult to get air in than to get it out, which tells me that what Im experiencing has more to do with bronchospasm than air trapping. In any case, Im absolutely miserable. It’s the old trying to breath through a narrow straw kinda feeling. I haven’t been able to sleep for several days and basically feel like crap.
The trigger for this latest bout could certainly be weather related, as it’s been raining non-stop for a week and high humidity levels can affect my breathing. But who knows, just about anything can set me off.
Its much more than just being uncomfortable being short of breath like this, it totally sucks. This time rather than getting pissed off and adding fuel to the fire by becoming overly anxious by it, Ive decided to write down my thoughts in this post. Im writing this ad-lib while sucking on a nebulizer, so please excuse any grammar mistakes or ramblings. It’s hard to stay focused when you can’t breath.
Ive actually been flaring for several days now, so Im probably farther along into an exacerbation than I think. I know I’m actively flaring because Ive been tighter than usual, my peak flows have running 180-210 ish, which is the lower end of my yellow zone, and despite taking neb treatments every couple hours,Im not getting much relief. Upped my pred to 40mg yesterday, but just got a pounding heart from that.
I have no intended story or message to convey in this post, Im simply typing words to see what comes out and to distract myself from my labored breathing. Im doing this for myself, Im doing it as therapy, as an experiment, as a way to cope. Through the years Ive tried everything you can think of to quell my breathlessness and stay “calm” to prevent things from getting worse, so why not add writing about the situation in real-time, to that list.
The process of writing about it also buys me time. Time in the sense that, the time that it takes to compose this blog post I will have whittled that much off the duration of the flare. I say duration, because asthma flare ups don’t last forever. They may change in intensity from a merely uncomfortable stage to full on impending suffocation,but unless you die in the process, which is actually quite rare, the flare will eventually wind down and the supposedly simple act of breathing will become more tolerable again. The problem is, it’s tough to predict just how long that might take to occur, which only adds to the anxiety in the early stages of the game.
Asthma exacerbations rarely take a linear trajectory, there are always bumps along the way, and some of those bumps can get really hairy. For me, an uncomplicated mild flare can last anywhere from 1 day to 1 week and will sometimes fade away on it’s own. So in that sense, “buying time” can also mean delaying or putting off the knee jerk reaction to head to the ER right away to treat an attack that may not be worthy of an expensive medical intervention.
Well, looks like I only bought about an an hour and a half writing this post. I still feel like crap, but Im slightly less anxious about it and feel slightly less alone in dealing with it. Blogging/writing seems to be a better distraction than playing my guitar, because I can be in a lousy mood and still write, where as trying to play or learn a new piece of music during a flare requires too much concentration which I just can’t muster when I short of breath like this.
Writing this post while being very short of breath has me wondering if I should do just the opposite when Im not flaring? Maybe I should write a post about what it feels like to breath well or at least half way normal. Nah, who writes about breathing normal, what’s the point. Oh well, off to find the next breathing distraction and buy some more time.
Later that day…………
A few hours after writing that post, my symptoms became downright unbearable. The finally straw came when I noticed my sat was dropping into the 80’s. O2 desaturation is not a good sign during an asthma flare. This was the confirmation I needed that this flare was not going to turnaround on its own. Mentally preparing myself, which I always have to do when an ER visit is imminent, I got my hospital survival kit together and we headed out for the one hour and 15 minute drive to the hospital.
Final tally.. 6 days in the hospital, 4 of them in the intensive care unit, bringing this prelude to a predictable, expensive and exhaustive conclusion. Fortunately, I got in early enough that I was able to avoid intubation #35 and all the consequences that would have come with it.