It’s almost October, the corn is drying out, the temps are cooling, and so far I’ve stayed out of the hospital. I haven’t felt like writing much this past year. I’m kind of in a holding pattern until I see my lung doc at UPMC and talk more about the lung biopsies she and my local lung doc are pushing for. It’s been a lot of the same. Allergies are bad, the weather affects me, and I feel awful when I get sick. So far I’ve been able to keep things somewhat under control with antibiotics and steroids here and there.
I am so thankful to have my oxygen. Sometimes when I’m in a doctor office i’m in the low 90s, and other times in the high 90s. My oxygen saturation only really drops when I’m active so it’s wonderful not having to try and prove that to doctors anymore.
In my lifelong quest to live in a bubble, I’ve started lifting weights at home in my garage. Going to gyms or pulmonary rehab the past few years has been problematic for me because I was always getting sick from the other people there. Last month I found a couple bars and olympic plates on craigslist. I later acquired an FID bench and some independent bench stands to round out the mini-gym. I know any sort of upper body strength I can regain is just going to help me breathe easier.
I spent last week in the hospital. It’s Fall, the weather is changing, mold counts are rising, ragweed season was rough, and farmers are out in the fields harvesting their crops. It’s always the perfect storm of things to induce inflammation in my airways.
It started off with an asthma attack. I was in the garage riding my spin bike one night when I hit a wall after 15 minutes. I backed off, slowed down, and figured things would soon get back to “normal.” Things did not get back to normal. I started myself on some standby prednisone and talked to my lung doctor when things didn’t completely improve. I restarted the prednisone, but it wasn’t enough. One the way to an urgent clinic I got a flat tire. Urgent clinic told me I had to go to the hospital, and the doctor in the ER admitted me after 125mg of solumedrol and some duoneb seemingly had no effect.
This is the first time I have been admitted not in the middle of an active attack where I felt like I was in distress. The ER doctor was going to admit me as soon as I got there, but I wanted to try some standard treatment first. After that it was three days of 240 mg solumedrol before tapering down to 60 mg of prednisone and getting out of there.
Right now I feel like I’m struggling. Doing everything for yourself is harder than it looks, and I’ve come down with bronchitis as well. Here’s hoping the medicine works and I can fully recover without relapsing.
My lung doc finally gave in and subscribed me some prednisone today. I’ve been feeling bad for about a week. The weather is changing, allergies are bad, one of my kids is kind of sick, and they’ve started harvesting corn. It could be just one, several, or all of those reasons why I’m having trouble breathing. Monday my blood-oxygen saturation kept dipping below 90%, and every day this week my PeakFlow numbers have been steadily dropping. While I really dislike systemic steroids and their side-effects, Liz reminded me it could be worse.
The last time I was admitted to the hospital I had been on 80mg of predisone daily. They gave me two, 120mg IV injections of solumedrol, and then admitted me into a room where they showed up every 6 hours for another 120mg of solumedrol. Some of the side-effects include:
- It made me a little crazy
- I became temporarily diabetic and required insulin
- I retained water and gained weight
- I developed cataracts
- I lost muscle tone
- I couldn’t sleep
- My hands cramped up
- My cognitive abilities were diminished
- I got cranky and moody
- My vision became blurry at times (probably due to the increased blood sugar levels)
- My face became round and puffy
- I lost my appetite
I had been on prednisone for most of the previous 2 years leading up to this hospitalization. When you’ve been on prednisone that long, you can’t just quit. You must be tapered off because your body is somewhat dependent on it. I’m not sure exactly when I developed hypothyroidism, but it was sometime after this long period of time on the medicine. If you want to see a long list of known effects, check them out here.
One of my lung doctors has told me multiple times the prednisone would kill me before the asthma if I couldn’t find a better way to treat my asthma. I’m happy to say this is only the second time in the past 6 months I’ve had to resort to this treatment. I’m hoping the short burst will get me back on my feet.