Thursday, February 18, 2016

Filed in the "Stuff I Stuff Down" Folder...

I've had a chronic cough for a couple of years that I dismissed as allergies or maybe mild asthma. In November of last year, it got worse. A doctor prescribed me an albuterol inhaler. Late January, the cough became surreal. There's coughing, and then there's whatever the heck I was doing. Felt like someone was sucking all the air out of my lungs, replacing it with silly putty and daring me to hold my breath for two minutes. It was terrifying, but I kept hoping it would pass and wondering if I should write up a last will and testament and nihilism struck and it was rough.

At the urging of a few lovely friends, I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed on antibiotics plus two inhalers, and given strict instructions to do nothing. "Nothing?" "Nothing."

Three days later I coughed so hard I projectile vomited all over my coffee table, coughed up a small amount of blood then...have any of you ever had a broken rib? It's my first broken bone, so I can check that off the list.

Horking, spitting, wheezing, yelping, walking a few feet at a time then gasping; back to the clinic I went, this time under urgent circumstances. An x-ray revealed severe pneumonia (my right lung was a hot mess), severe asthma (the kind that puts children in the hospital) and a dense area that looked to them for all the world like a blood clot. Mild panic set in.

There's a specific test for clots called a d-dimer. I was expecting it to test negative, but it tested positive. It doesn't say where the clot(s) are, it just says there's some clotting antigen or whatnot in my blood. Oh, goodie. A mystery. 

I was called back for a CT scan. Panic level 'mandarin'.After alienating everyone in the lobby with my plague-like symptoms while waiting for the results of my scan (one brave woman handed me a kleenex and I almost cried), my doctor sat me in a room while he continued to review the scan for four score and twenty. Panic level 'bubblegum pink'. No clot! Just crud! And constricted lungs! Woot! Thank the whatevers for small favors, though the positive d-dimer puts me at a constant panic level 'chartreuse'.
I took a course of antibiotics and was prescribed yet another inhaler that I must use every day unless or until a miracle happens and my asthma goes away. I was ordered to do as little as possible for two months. "Two months?" "Two months." 

A neighbor friend stepped in as dog walker, and he takes Sam with him to all sorts of places I don't take Sam even when I'm not laid up in bed. I ordered enough pizza to get me through the first couple of weeks, as grocery shopping is out and explaining my weird, particular tastes to a friend/family member/personal shopper is embarrassing for both of us.

Prognosis? "The good news is, your asthma can't get any worse because it's already as bad as it gets. You'll be prone to all sorts of wonderful pneumonias, now." Fabulous.

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