My Asthma And Its Playmates
Here I am on what feels like the billionth day of quarantine. Unfortunately for me, even if COVID-19 weren't invading our lives so persistently, right now I think I’d still be living life on the sidelines a great deal of the time.
Last February, I was sick with what my doctor called a "severe flu-like virus." Since then I have not been able to get back to my baseline. A combination of things that have impacted my breathing continue to persist and some random issues have been thrown in, too. When I get as sick as I was a year ago, it takes me a very long time to recover, as anyone with asthma can relate to. Because I have several chronic conditions, sometimes getting back to my baseline is a monumental task.
When asthma has friends
These other chronic conditions also involve my respiratory system. Right now they are each causing me frustration, and exasperation. In addition to asthma, I have a collapsed airway, vocal cord dysfunction (VCD), and small airway damage. Two of the conditions are side effects from lung cancer surgery. The upper lobe of my left lung was removed.
These conditions have not learned to play well together and one or the other is always trying to steal the spotlight. I am often placed in the annoying position of trying to figure out which of the playmates is acting up. Most of the time it doesn’t matter; the minute one starts, it is often not long before all four are involved in the mayhem.
Currently, all four issues are being quite stubborn and are not adhering to the rules of engagement that I and my doctor have laid out. It is supposed to be a well-oiled machine, this bag of tricks of mine. Steroids, nebulizer treatments, antibiotics, additional medications... all designed to bring the culprits back into the fold so they can play quietly together and leave me alone. Well, they aren’t having it!
So since last February, I have not been sick with the normal things like colds, flu, or viruses, but with the hidden things. I developed a cough, it developed some more friends and we've been on a roller coaster ride for months. This long-running exacerbation has brought all of my chronic conditions to the playground (my chest) to play.
Being vigilant and aware
Talk about listening to your body! Mine simply won't shut up! I am listening, though. I am doing everything I am supposed to. I am on high alert more often than usual.
Asthma patients are always tasked with being diligent about our surroundings, triggers, and hints from our bodies, but during an exacerbation it can be all-out warfare. During COVID-19 we are being hyper-vigilant, as we should be. So while this feels like the billionth day of quarantine for me, I am safe and I am in good hands while trying to deal with these setbacks that are seemingly constant lately.
They will resolve. My doctor and I will find the correct combination of treatments. We are exploring the possibility of other playmates trying to join the ‘fun’. We both agree though, this is just the work of asthma and its friends testing my strength and resolve. I’m not backing down so the playmates are in for a rough ride!
Venting with a purpose
This article is mostly a venting exercise for me--sorry. However, I think there are lots of asthmatics out there that have multiple conditions that impact their ability to breathe and recover from exacerbations. I want them to know I’m here feeling it, too. Feeling the struggle, feeling the frustration, all of us looking forward to the better days ahead. They are on the way.
In the meantime, we are here to support each other, lend a shoulder and an ear!
Have asthma inhalers affected your dental health?