The morning started out in a wheezing coughing fit. I went to urgent care as soon as they opened. After a quick exam, a listen to my lungs, chest x-ray, and review of my health history, the doctor diagnosed me with “bronchitis with reactive airway inflammation.” He gave me some narcotic cough syrup for the cough, and Advair to restart my maintenance asthma regimen. I spent the day in bed, coughing and wheezing. It felt like my chest was on fire.In the early evening, Taylor and I were laying down and talking. To ease my shortness of breath, I took another puff of Albuterol, which set me off in a coughing fit. After coughing so hard that I couldn’t control bodily functions, my breathing was sporadic enough that Taylor hauled me off to the ER. 15 minutes later, I stumbled into the Mountain View Hospital ER waiting room, with feet numb from lack of oxygen. The ER staff pulled themselves from the Super Bowl, plopped me into a wheelchair, bypassed triage, and took me to bed. They helped me peel off my clothes, dressed me in a gown, and started my examination. My pulse-ox was at 91 and I had a fever of 102.5*. Within 45 minutes, chest x-rays and nasal cultures were done, breathing treatments and steroids administered, and I was finally feeling some relief. They confirmed that my illness was not caused by influenza or H1N1, and concurred with the earlier diagnosis of bronchitis. They gave me a prescription for Z-pak, and told me to get lots of rest. I was in and out in 2 hours. That’s the way an ER visit should be.
Sounds dramatic? To be honest, I’m used to all the lung drama. I’ve mentioned my “organ recital” of medical history in a previous post. I’ve talked about how I got pneumonia after an accidental spray paint inhalation. I’ve talked about how I was “poisoned” at work from inhaling an industrial strength aerosol chemical. If something you can breathe in exists that can make you sick, I’m susceptible to it. This nasty Utah inversion air? Makes me sick. When I say I’m dealing with “SOB,” I mean shortness of breath.
I’ve had asthma since I was 11. I have sleep apnea. I’ve seen pulmonologists in 4 states. I have tried most of the inhalers on the following chart:
But as I went through my old posts, I realized that I never blogged about my biggest lung condition of all, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. ARDS is a life-threatening lung condition that prevents enough oxygen from getting into the blood, typically resulting from trauma or sepsis. I survived it after three weeks on a ventilator. Would anyone like to hear my story?