Disclaimer: This may be more about my medical condition and history than you really want to know.
So, seriously, if you are the kind of person who dreads hearing about medical stuff, close the browser and go to some other post. I would. If I could.
I have asthma.
If this was a 12-step program, it has taken me eight years to get to step 1: Admitting you have a problem.
As a child I can’t remember ever having breathing problems, except, obviously when I got a cold. I remember a few times of not being able to get a deep breath, but if I just didn’t push and waited, usually the feeling went away.
I played various sports throughout high school. Admittedly, not track and field, but I was on the ski team and played golf. Nothing ever came up. My parents also don’t remember anything about asthma.
Then in late 2006 I came down with a cold. Most of 2007 was spend coughing or at the doctor’s office. After three doctors and a specialist, I was finally diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis; essentially, my lungs had hives.
It turned out I was allergic to my parrot, Joey.
After finding Joey a new home (hi Michele!) my health improved dramatically. But after six months, I still didn’t feel as good as I felt I should, so I sold my store, Pawsitively Clean, in an attempt to further remove myself from what allergens I could.
This worked for a while, but in in late 2012, while starting a new job, I came down with a case of pneumonia and things went a little backward. I started a new drug regime and when I lost weight, things seemed to be going really well.
So, recently I (stupidly) stopped the medication.
And now I’m back to having asthma problems.
I never would have said I was frighted of the doctor until the HP problems of 2007.
It took over a year to find a doctor who took me seriously. Who didn’t make comments about my large breasts or decided to take personal phone calls during my appointments. I have honestly never seen my mother more angry than the day after I went to the doctor and came back without a prescription, and the next day I could not make any noise because my lungs and throat were so messed up.
Once I changed doctors, however, they started sending me to specialists. The problem, though, was that I could no longer remember the appointments. I would go and then come back, but I wouldn’t remember what the doctor had said. The day the doctor diagnosed me the only thing I actually remember is sobbing and telling him I couldn’t get rid of my pets. I had to call back later after I’d calmed down to figure out what really had been said.
Basically, the whole thing gave me PTSD. And I’m not using that term in a joking way. The last time I went in for a serious doctor’s appointment, I had to bring my mom with me because I still pretty much blank out the whole appointment. I consider it progress that recently I’ve started to remember little bits of my appointments.
As I said earlier, my asthma has flared up again. The combination of a long, hot summer with lots of forest fires, stopping my medication, and moving has really aggravated my lungs. I need to return to the doctor… but I’m now terrible at the doctor.
My mom, who is excellent with all medical stuff (she’s really a great advocate) has suggested I write down my questions. But I’m not sure what they are. I just want to be able to breathe.
So… online I go to figure out my questions.
This is how lungs work.
Air is sucked in and ends up in the alveoli where the capillaries take the oxygen away and transfer CO2 back to the alveoli where it is exhaled.
This is how asthma works. Everything is the same as above except for two details. The interior of the bronchioles (tiny airways) swell up and the muscles surrounding the bronchioles tighten.
This means that air is trapped in the alveoli. Which explains why doctors tell me my problem is getting air OUT of my lungs.
So, what causes asthma? If I didn’t have it as a kid, why do I have it as a 40 year old?
Last week I went to Hawaii on vacation, leaving behind the fur children and a lot of other stuff. The first day I went snorkeling I had a lot of breathing problems, and frankly even I could hear my lungs wheezing.
But by the last day I was breathing like a champ and it all seemed easy.
So naturally, I didn’t want to go to the doctor.
Since returning I haven’t gone back to square one, but I can definitely feel the difference.
I need to do something. But what?
What are my questions for the doctor?
- Should I ask for a pulmonologist appointment or an allergist?
- Are there any exercises I should do?
- Should I keep an asthma diary (a suggestion I see online)? What for? What not?
- Why don’t the normal asthma drugs seem to work on me?
- With my current list of allergies, I know I can’t get any more cats. But should that include no more dogs? What about a hypoallergenic breed?