Getting Through Exacerbations
I had been on an awesome run this winter without an exacerbation. Then all of sudden there were the signs of a cold approaching. Since the symptoms did not last as long as they usually do, I thought I was dodging a bullet. Then came the more consistent symptoms, starting with a breakthrough cough, the sputum, curse them, and the ridiculous dyspnea. It is times like I curse the several flights of stairs that I have in my house. I thought I could get through it by bumping up my rescue inhaler, as that would be the first step in my action plan. At all costs, I was hoping to avoid a prednisone burst but it looked like the inevitable was on the loom.
I sat down to make the call to my doc and after giving them a run down on how I was feeling, where my peak flows were at and a number of puffs of rescue meds that I was requiring. I was essentially summoned in the next day for cultures, blood, sputum, the works. What came next was indeed that prednisone burst, increase rescue medication use and six weeks to get through it.
The stages of getting over an exacerbation
This had me thinking about the time it takes to get over an exacerbation and all the mini stages that I go through. It starts with the getting through the medications and the crazy feelings from the prednisone burst that I experience. I tend to experience the not so wonderful prednisone bust insomnia and extreme crankiness and the feelings like the meds are not working. I know there is a bit of patience required, meds need time to kick in, lungs need to stop freaking out. For me, the part that is the most frustrating is the readjusting the everyday things. During an exacerbation, my work schedule gets adjusted, my physical activity plans gets adjusted, I have to modify everyday things. The plus side of these modifications is they all help in getting through these dips in good health. It all become shifting your attitude, by staying active in the treatment plan and a bit of good faith, you can get through these. I won't lie, they are super annoying.
My strategy to get over an exacerbation
My strategy is to, take each day as it comes. Hopefully, each day becomes a bit better, but often it is a SLOW process. Set daily goals for yourself that will help you get back to your usual activities. For example, making it through your work day or tackling a few things on your to-do list. Rome wasn't built in a day, however, you can set yourself up for success. You will need to be mindful of symptom control and over doing it. No one wants a relapse. With a little bit of time, you will probably notice an improvement in your symptoms and a return of your usual self. Energy levels etc. You may have to be on an increased dosage of meds for a while but hopefully, you will return to your baseline as quickly as possible. Currently, I am hoping that I will be back at my maintenance in a couple of weeks as long as my symptoms diary, spirometry and sputum are cooperative. Next, up on my to-do list is resuming my cycling training. I had to drop down to maintenance training during my exacerbation, there is no sense in adding to my exacerbation with overdoing the training.
What are your strategies for getting through exacerbations?
Have you experienced a collapsed lung?