"Ohhh, a <i>Flare."</i>
Asthma flare. Exacerbation. Attack. Whatever you call it, it all means roughly the same thing. And apparently, I’ve been cycling around in an asthma flare for a week now, and it took me six days to figure it out. Never mind that, it took me six days and two phone conversations with Dia on the sixth day to figure it out! When I realized it I was kind of like “Ohhh, a flare,” like Homer Simpson says “Ohh, a gime!” after wondering what a gym is.
How could I not realize it? No clue, I’ve only been at this for ten-and-a-half years now, you think I’d realize when I’m flaring given that I used to have what my friend Steve refers to as “mini-flares” on a weekly-or-more basis. But since getting onto a better-for-me combination of asthma medication, I’ve (thankfully) been thrown off my game!
Blaming the wrong thing. Repeatedly.
Since I didn’t realize I was flaring, I started blaming the wrong thing as the cause of my fairly-mild-but-relentless chest tightness and dyspnea, and increased coughing. While the trigger is probably the weather getting colder (or who knows, honestly!), I started Sprivia a month-ish before this flare hit. The Spiriva had been working near-magically, so much so that I even paid for it out-of-pocket when it wasn’t covered by my provincial pharmacare formulary. Of course, this flare hit the day after I’d paid $60 for this drug, so as I incorrectly pegged the issue as being the Spiriva, I was ruminating this fact! I went from trying to figure out how to get this medication covered, to thinking I’d have to call my doctor to tell her I was quitting it.
It made no sense, though, that it would suddenly quit working well, and I knew it. Therefore, I continued to internally search for a cause. Honestly, the only reason I jumped to this conclusion is because one day in this flare, mere moments after taking Spiriva, I started feeling cruddy. It was way too fast for it to be the Spiriva, I knew, so I knew I was being irrational but it was the only “logical” thing at the time. I’d shaken my Qvar next to my ear, wondering if it were empty. Nope, not even close. I checked the dose counter on my Zenhale, to see 76 puffs remained.
Nothing. Made. Sense.
You know why nothing made sense? Because asthma makes no sense, that’s why. It is practically at the top of the “things that make no sense” list, probably tied with where do lost socks (and pens) even go?
Clicking into place
Then on day six, on my second conversation of the day with Dia while walking across the campus lawn to the bus for a board meeting, it clicked. “So you know what I realized, legitimately right now? That I’m probably just flaring because that is a thing that happens with asthma.”
Like, oh yeah, this is just a normal asthma thing and here I am complicating it with rationality.
In this whole time, I’d done nothing I’d normally do when flaring. I didn’t increase any meds, I didn’t take Ventolin regularly, nothing. Thus, of course, why this actually-a-flare was not dissipating! Thankfully, my symptoms only increased marginally over the 6 days I was failing at asthma. Fortunately, I figured it out eventually, and things have been a fair bit smoother in the 42.5 hours since then!
Ha! Thanks for the trust, all you people who have called me a patient-expert, I actually clearly have no idea what I am doing!
Have you experienced a collapsed lung?