Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pay Attention . . .

No Internet since Wednesday - finally back on today after two phone calls to AT&T and a service call this morning.  Wow - a LOT of my life is tied up in electronic stuff . . .

The budget update is that I have gone over budget on groceries for a number of reasons that will be explained shortly in a Field Report, below, but include circumstances and choices.

It's been a rough week - as noted a few posts ago, it's been a rough 10 months.

I found out something on Thursday that explains SO MUCH of what's been going on with me.

My asthma story is here, if you'd like to read about it.  I don't post about asthma all that often - in fact, this is only the second post here with an "asthma" tag.  That's pretty much because I learned to manage it.  I manage it really well.  I didn't always, though,  until one day about 10 years ago, after yet another asthma crisis, my asthma doctor had a Come-to-Jesus meeting with me.  It went something like this:
Him:  A, if you had a chronic condition like high blood pressure, would you take your meds to manage it?

Me:  Well of course I would!  They don't call it the Silent Killer for nothing - my mom had it.  If you have high blood pressure, you have to take your meds to get it under control.  (Seriously - that just came right out of my mouth . . . )

Him:  A, asthma is a chronic condition like high blood pressure.  It's not going to go away.  You  have to learn to manage it.

Me:  Um . . .  (wait for it . . . )

Him:  Look, I can't force you to take your meds, and I can't force you to come in here every six months.  All I can tell you, is that if you will do these things you are going to be a lot happier and you're going to feel a lot better.

It was a lightbulb moment for me.  From that point on. I have been pretty much compliant with my meds and I checked in every six months.

Except this year, I didn't.  I last saw him in August of last year, when, because I had managed my asthma so well, I got to drop down to HALF the lowest dose of my maintenance med.  I neglected to go in February.

It all comes back to these past 10 months . . .

Here's how my Thursday went.  I was absolutely exhausted and canceled my workout which had already been postponed from Tuesday when I was still down for the count with no energy at all.  Then, I spoke to one of my friends who is a retired ICU nurse because I needed to cancel on a ball game that we had had on the calendar for months - I just didn't feel well enough to go.  She pointed out to me that this was the third time in 10 months that I have been down for the count like this and that it wasn't normal. 

I was able to get in to see my asthma doctor shortly after lunch on Thursday. 

The long story short is that, apparently, my asthma has not been well controlled for quite some time.  At least seven months, quite possibly longer - and I didn't put it together because there were other circumstances surrounding the first two times this happened and the breathing issues didn't present like what I normally experienced in the past with an asthma issue.  December was a month after the accident, June was a month after the construction (and all that massive dust) was over, and this time just seemed like a bounceback from June's episode.

All of these things happened after my maintenance meds were stepped down last August and it never occurred to me that it could be asthma-related.   I'm clearly not good at seeing patterns like this in my own life - but the doc saw it immediately.

Interestingly enough, another clue that I didn't know to look out for was blood pressure.  I took my BP at the grocery store back in June and it was 145/84 - I thought it was an anomaly because my BP is usually 110/70 or less.  It was taken a few weeks ago when I visited the sleep dentist, and it was 95/65 - a little low, even for me, but I figured that was OK.  Better low than too high.

They took my BP Thursday in the doc's office and it was 145/80 so they took it again and it was 135/80.  This is very high for me and not normal - and also directly attributable to my asthma not being under control. I never knew that and frankly even if I had known it, I don't think I could have put it all together and figured this out on my own.  Even so, I feel stupid that I didn't realize what was going on back in December. If I had paid attention to my body then, I probably could have avoided a lot of heartache.  I contacted my primary care doctor the first two times - this time I went right to my asthma doctor because it was also time for my annual check in.

Now what?

Well, the good news is that I now know what's going on and have drugs to treat it and a clear and quick path to get my asthma back under control.  Unfortunately, that path requires some short-term drugs that are not ideal . . . another z-pac (third one in seven months :-S), and everyone's favorite, The Prednisone Bomb!! Yeah, no, not so much.  I call it the P-Bomb because it's 8 pills, all at once, every morning for six days.  No, I'm not kidding.  It hits your system like a frickin' bomb.  My maintenance med has been doubled, and that, plus the P-Bomb should have me going pretty well again in pretty short order.

I hate hate HATE the P-Bomb more than you can possibly know, but it works quickly, which means that I am already feeling a lot better in just three days.  I'm crabby though - that's the main side effect of prednisone for me - it alters my mood, but all friends and family have been warned to give me wide berth for a few more days.  ;-)

Here is something my doctor said:  With asthma, you can step up your meds, and you can step down your meds, but you can never step off your meds.   So, I'm stepped back up and we'll see how it goes.  I have to go back in three months - and you can bet that I will.

Like I said, this diagnosis explains SO much for me in the past months:
  • My exhaustion at National this year - I race around convention every year - this year, I just could not and I was tired all the time.
  • My wanting to continue piping throughout construction but my inability to do so.  In addition to not getting enough practice in (exhaustion), every time I thought to pick my pipes up in the past months, the thought of playing them was . . . well, I just didn't think I had enough energy.
  • One of my friends said she had noticed how out of breath I was during phone calls, but hadn't said anything.  
  • My workouts have been more and more lackluster.  I just haven't been able to do all that much.
  • I, myself, noticed being out of breath after just one flight of stairs in my home and at my work.  This just isn't normal, but since I attribute pretty much anything that could be wrong with me to the fact that I am too large, I didn't pay attention . . . 
  • Walking to work with a friend one morning and having difficulty keeping up a conversation and walking at the same time.
  • Being out of breath just in general conversation.
  • The massive coughing as part of each illness episode.  Because I thought I had just a cold, it didn't register as anything else, even when my primary care doctor said to use my rescue inhaler to help stop the coughing.  Coughing is my first symptom of anything wrong in my breathing - this was a waving red flag with a blaring horn - and I was oblivious.
I'm going to be paying attention.  And a number of my friends are also going to be speaking up going forward if they notice things I miss.  :-)

Budget Field Report:  I was over grocery budget because I spent money on prescriptions, but also because I made some poor choices and my planning slacked off near the end of the month.  All in all, however, I think I did pretty well for this first month.  And then today my electric bill came, and my monthly budget billing amount went up $15/month with no notice and no explanation.  Crud.  I'm calling them on Monday.  It's bothersome.

And to end on a higher note, I finished the Canyon Cowl for my cousin's toddler.  It was a quick knit - and although the skeins were all the same dye lot, my new bionic eyes noticed a minor discrepancy between them - but not until I was taking photos of the finished object - It could just be that weaving in ends on super bulky yarn is noticeable no matter how you slice it.  In any case, it's already on its way to Oregon.  I don't have a toddler handy to check size or to model, I hope it fits her.

And finally, this completely unexpected surprise gift came in the mail today, and it really lifted my spirits.  I have lusted after these limited edition Blue Flower Chiagoo needles forever.  Every time I have seen them I have wanted them, but they seemed like something I shouldn't spend money on.

Today.  In the mail.  From my friend, C.  Hot Dog!!!

I'm all happy now  :-)


Michelle said...

Oh dear; well, I'm glad that got cleared up!

A :-) said...

Thanks - you'd think I would have figured it out, wouldn't you? But so it goes . . . :-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of your troubles. I hope this week is much better for you. I, too, am asthmatic and have tried to cope with less medicine. At the moment I use an inhaler only as necessary. But it is so important to stay on the meds and be aware of one's body. Easier said than done, I know only too well. I just wanted to bring to your attention a book I discovered at my library that may be of some use to you. It is written by the actor Paul Sorvino and is titled "How to Become a Former Asthmatic". It is full of breathing exercises and hints on how to live with asthma. I found it extremely helpful and you may, too. It is available on or possibly your local library.
Here's to a better week!
Janice H.

Linda said...

I'm so glad you figured this out and are on your way back to wellness! After being on so many antibiotics, your gut may be out of whack, too. A nurse friend of mine recommend BioK to me after the first bout of diverticulitis. I've started taking it again since my gut is still not back to normal. You can get it at Whole Foods in the refrigerated area of the supplement aisle. (Sadly it won't do your food budget any good, though.)