Tag Archive for weather

Is that a combine in the field?

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.

Nesting and nesting?

This month we’ve been busy getting ready for kid #2 to enter the world.  At times I may mention “Chuck” in reference to my daughter.  That’s not her real name in case you were wondering.  Working on codename for kid number two.  Ideas include Hopscotch, Machete and Chalupa Batman.  Feel free to vote.  It may or may not affect the decision.

So…nesting.  If you have been pregnant or have lived with a pregnant lady, been around one, etc – you probably know what I’m talking about.  Before Chuck was born I’d come home from work to find Liz had re-arranged another room in the house.  I’m not talking about scooting a few items around.  I’m talking about moving book cases and steel shelves along with everything that was on them from one end of the apartment to the other.  I’ve been told there’s an extremely strong, compelling feeling it just has to be done.  While Liz has been doing her cleaning and prepping in the house, it seems as though I’ve been doing similar, silly things outside in this ridiculously cold weather, which isn’t good for my lungs.

In the past few weeks I’ve shoveled snow, moved fallen branches and have attempted to push cars stuck in the driveway three times with only one failed attempt.  All of this in sub-zero temperatures and not wearing a scarf or any kind of facemask.  Last Friday was the last of these silly feats of strength where I was shoveling snow and pushing my two-ton car while Liz was in the driver’s seat.  It took about 30 minutes, but we got the car into the garage so it wouldn’t turn into a major snow drift.  I thought I might not be able to walk back into the house, but I did and fortunately avoided an ER trip.

The thing is, this stuff has to be done and there’s not really anyone else to do it.  Maybe this is what nesting is all about?  The good news is I have tons of prednisone at home so I can always alter my dose/taper and get myself back on track without having to seek help or go see a doctor.  I’m also much better than I was 4-5 months ago so doing a treatment or using an inhaler seems to result in me feeling at least somewhat better.  Back when I was nebbing 8-10x a day I was just always feeling awful.

So any day now we’ll be the parents of two kids instead of one.  I have no idea what that’ll be like, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.  We figured out how to handle one kid.

Another ER visit

This summer is truly turning into record breaking asthma for me.  As of today:

  • I have 22 days of prednisone under my belt with another 27 on the way
  • Two courses of anti-biotics
  • Two ER visits
  • Four PCP visits
  • Three Pulmonology visits
  • One Allergist visit
  • About 120 nebulizer treatments

Wednesday was brutal outside.  The temperature hit at least 90F with humidity to add to the heat index.  I know the heat index isn’t “real” but it sure does affect people like myself with pulmonary conditions.  I’ve been trying to figure out a better parking solution at work because the closest lot with my level of parking access is 880 walking yards away.  When I’m feeling ok, that mile of walking every day is great, but I’m not ok right now.  Ironically my doctor wrote a letter asking for a parking accommodation and later that day I ended up in the ER due to an exacerbation from walking around campus.

Trips to the emergency room or emergency department are never enjoyed or wanted.  I fancy myself as “tough,” never think I’m that bad and in the moment usually suffer from “asthma brain” fueled by a lack of oxygen.  It’s good to have someone around to make the decision for you or easily identifiable metrics defined to know when to go.  Walking around outside that day was causing my lungs to ache with every breathe which eventually led to dull, then sharp pain.  Around 6:30pm I’d rank my inhalation pain around 7/10, was shaking uncontrollably and had tears streaming down my face.  And that’s ok cause strong men also cry…right?

Whenever I recount stories like this, they sound ridiculous and of course I would try to force someone else to seek medical attention if they were in my situation.  What I had going through my head that night were things like:

  • There’s no way it can last that much longer
  • I’ve been worse before (it’s true)
  • I’d rather wait to incur more medical costs until after 7/1 when I have more FSA funds to pay for it
  • I’ll be ok

My wife started threatening to call an ambulance, and while I do respect all my paramedic friends, I hate taking ambulance rides.  Eventually I agreed to go if she would drive me, and she did.  I had already done four nebulizer treatments at home that day and by the time I finally went to the ER, my pain had dropped from 7/10 to about 4/10.  With the heat, humidity and thunderstorms, the ER was packed, however, since I’m a bit of a frequent flyer they recognized me when we walked in the door and let me cut in line.  As they were wheeling me to a room I began to notice all the people standing/sitting in the hallways being treated so I was grateful for a bed.  They got started on me right away with the standard tests.  The “asthma” wasn’t bad, I just wanted to punch a wall every time I breathed.

The respiratory tech was a good one that night.  Instead of answering a bunch of questions, I handed over my notebook which is when they start taking me seriously.  I’m basically on high doses of every type of maintenance and rescue medication in addition to the anti-biotics and prednisone I’ve been taking.  The attending physician ordered blood work, a chest xray and the dreaded ABG.  This was the first time a respiratory tech performed a blood gas test on me, usually they bring in a phlebotomist and it goes horribly.  This dude got it right away and I can actually move my wrist – major bonus.

Unsurprisingly they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, well that is from what’s already known, they got me patched up and sent me home.  They did pump me full of morphine though which really made it easier to breathe.  I’m sure Rick James would tell us it’s one hell of a drug, but that’s a bit rhetorical.  At this point my body is just too tired, stressed and worn out from 6 weeks of asthma and not sleeping.  I need to start seriously looking out for myself the rest of the summer to avoid any more complications.  I sometimes joke about people dying from asthma, but it’s true.  I’m fortunate enough to have a special lady friend looking out for me, a good team of doctors and a boss who is accommodating.  I don’t know how I became so lucky some days.