Friday, January 29, 2016

This Cold is Ruining My Life

I had a very exciting/terrifying morning.  Paramedics were called, time was spent in the ER.

Now that I have your attention, I'm going to back up a bit.

All the steroids and mumbo jumbo I've been on to treat my GPA has left me with a pretty shoddy immune system. Two weeks ago, I came down with a little cold that knocked me out of commission for a couple days.  I had about a week, maybe a week and a half, of feeling fine, and then I got hit with another one.

This cold I have now, has had me down for the count since Sunday.  I've been coughing like crazy all the time.  My voice has been AWOL since Tuesday.  I've been super tired. And of course, my nose is all congested and I have major post-nasal drip.

This all sucks because this week at work was supposed to be a very busy week for me.  Busy in all the fun ways.  I was really excited about this week.  Instead I've been flat out at home either sleeping or groggily watching Animal Planet and HGTV.

Yesterday I went to an instacare clinic and saw a doctor.  He gave me anti-biotics and codeine cough syrup and told me to pick up some sudafed while I was at the pharmacy.  I was hopeful that will a drug-induced full night sleep I would start feeling better today.

When I first woke up, I actually felt a little better, maybe.  At least, I woke up and was wide awake and didn't have to drag myself out of bed.  I was still coughing and my throat was really sore - I took a look at it and it looked pretty swollen and gunky.  I went out to the kitchen and put the kettle on for tea.

I can't pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point something shifted in my throat so that my entire airway got blocked off.  I was pretty sure it was just mucus from the post-nasal drip playing dirty with my sub-glottic stenosis.  This has actually happened to me before, though not since the Retuxan treatments which improved the stenosis.  But, with the extra mucus from the cold... it's not super surprising it happened again.

Remember in my post about my throat when said it was like breathing though a drinking straw all the time?  Well, what I had this morning is if you filled the end of that drinking straw with the straw wrapper.  If I tried really really really hard, using every muscle that ever had anything to do with breathing, I could slowly pull a tiny stream of air into my lungs.  This is actually super terrifying and makes your whole body want to panic.  Panic is a terrible idea because in order to get oxygen to my brain, I had to breathe slowly and deliberately.

Now, like I said, this has happened to me before.  I have a series of tricks to try that usually let me dislodge whatever is blocking off my throat.  These tricks involve moving my head around (to open the airway), massaging my throat, and sitting with my face over steaming water.  None of my tricks worked today.

At this point, I was afraid I was going to pass out and stop breathing and then Matt would get out of the shower, see my prone body, and freak out.  I didn't want to do that to him, so I pounded on the bathroom door until he came out.  I explained the situation to him as well as I could using some serious charades skills, and he called 911.  All I had to do then was sit still and try to keep breathing until the paramedics came.

The rest is kind of a blur.  There were a bunch of guys in my living room.  The gave me a CPAP mask with some albuterol (I think).  It helped a little, but I was still pretty blocked off.  After a little bit, they switched form albuterol to epinephrine. I don't know if the medicine helped at all, or if it was just the moisture I was getting from the CPAP, but eventually I started coughing and hacked up this huge plug of mucus.  Looking at it, it was kind of no wonder I couldn't breathe.

After that I was able to breathe more or less normally.  Because they used epinephrine though my heart rate was super high and the paramedics highly recommended I go to the hospital so they could monitor me for a while to make sure my heart didn't explode.

So now I'm... not quite fine, but not in immediate danger.  The ER doctor consulted with my rheumatologist and they're putting me back on prednisone for a few days, as well as the antibiotics from the instacare doc yesterday.  And I need to check in with my rheumatologist in the next week or two.

Of course, the cherry on the cake is that I have basically no sick leave.  I can't even handle worrying about that right now though.  I'm exhausted and sick.  And I had a very stressful and scary morning.

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