Life Event: Asthma

I ended up in the ER yesterday. I am ok now, but damn that sucked. NOT how I wanted my husband to spend V-day with me. That was NOT the plan (there wasn’t a real plan just “spend time together” so…. we did that!)

I went to my pulmonologist last week for my bi-annual check up.  I had some of my best results on my breathing test since I started seeing her.  And I freaking LOVE this doctor.  Of every doctor I’ve ever had – she is amazing.  She walks a balance of treating me like I am not some stupid boob but teaching me all the things I need to know to treat my disease.  She is always late, but then will spend every minute I need with me – and so as annoyed as I get for her making me wait so very, very long; I know she spent as much time with her other patients and she will spend as much time as I need (or hell, as I want).  The only time I felt rushed was when I had an afternoon appointment and she came in at like 5:45pm (the office closed at 5, her last appt. slot was 4:15- my slot).  And then wanted out of there.

Ok, so because of several reasons (*cough* including stupid insurance*cough*) we had to change me from the meds I’d been using.  There are 2 meds I use for asthma: an as-needed/emergency inhaler (albuteral) and a long-term daily dose.  I was on Breo which is once-daily powder I inhale.  We switched me to the cheaper/older Sybicort which is twice daily.  I struggle with twice daily – but for the past week I was trying really, really hard and keeping up.  I only missed one dose Saturday morning ’cause I woke up wanting to write and forgot.  This is like record-awesome drug taking for me.


I woke up Wed and went downstairs and worked out (I’m trying to be better about this).  It was awful but I pushed.  My asthma was not happy, I did a lighter work-out but I did my 25 minutes of >100 HR.  I know I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m trying.

My asthma is running at low-annoying-not-wanting-to-breathe right.  When I’m at work at about 10am, it’s bad enough I decide to take my albuteral.  I take 2 puffs of it and head to my next meeting.  I go to lunch ~12:30 and I’m tired.  I am beginning to feel the fatigue of low-level pain (my diaphram is working harder to pull my lungs open) and my brain is “foggy” from less-than-ideal oxygen. I use my albuteral again (and I keep track on my fingers the number of times I have to same-day-use this, so this was a thing to me) My last meeting ends right at 3 and after I just can’t focus.  So I decide to give up and go home – I’m not getting work done anyway.

On my way home, I call my pulmonologist’s office and leave a message with the nurse – this new med isn’t working, I’ll pay the more to go back to Breo – can you send in the script.  I’m tired. I want to get back to where I was at the beginning of Feb where I wasn’t in pain and fighting my own damn body.

Right before 5 the nurse calls me back and says my doctor wants me to go to the ER.  Specifically, because my symptoms hit relatively fast and my albuteral isn’t clearing them up, she’s concerned about pneumonia. Damnit, I didn’t think of that (who knew? you need oxygen to think straight).

I don’t want to go to the ER.  Damnit I do NOT WANT TO GO.  I call my sister and mother to get their suggestions.  My sister recommends calling urgent care.  Oh! Yeah, they can do chest x-rays and at 1/4 the copay!

I call them.  I swear the nurse was a freaking psychic.  I ask if they can do x-rays and nebulizers (the awesome machine of life for asthmatics – I don’t have one because the only time my albuteral has failed me was when i had pneumonia).  She asks why and I say my doctor wants me to get chest x-rays.  She asks if I have asthma.  I say yes.  She says, “Did your doctor tell you to go to the ER?” “…Yes….”  “You really should go to the ER.”



Ok.  I call my husband (I had been chatting with him to give him the head’s up…). He says he can be home in 45 minutes, we can be at the hospital in 1.5 hrs.  My mom (a mile from my house) had offered to drive me up there and I tell him why doesn’t he work the day out (like his last 30 minutes) and MOM can drive me to the ER.

So I call Mom, she comes to get me, we go to the ER.

I get to the ER right at 6pm. I’m not triaged for 30 minutes (seriously, they were like “why are you even here. You can talk bitch.”)  They come for x-rays ~7(?) and then return me to the lobby because they don’t have an exam room for me.

I lost track of time. The ER was nice enough, but I was exhausted and I hurt. I wanted to go home. I wanted to think straight. I couldn’t read the book I’d brought (Fifth Kindom by N.K. Jemisen) because I couldn’t concentrate. I was mad at my doctor for “making me” (yeah, yeah – I had a choice. But when I say I love and trust this doctor… and with this flu season her fear isn’t crazy and mom and my husband kept reminding me walking pneumonia does long-term damage….).  They get me to an exam room and we keep waiting.

Doc finally shows up and listens to my lungs. He’s visibly surprised when I tell him I go to a pulmonologist but don’t have my own nebulizer, but I tell him I’ve been maintained with the dailies for several years. Then the nurse comes and gets my vitals.  My blood pressure is high (like 150/90) – which for the person who generally runs 120/70 even I know that isn’t good. Something is going on in my body.

Then the respiratory specialist brings the only thing I have wanted for like 5 hours – a nebulizer treatment.   Like 80% of the way through (it’s less than 10 minutes long) I feel it.  OMG.  It’s like rays of sunshine through the clouds. I take the first deep breath that doesn’t feel like a horse kicked my chest… It’s better than a yawngasm (you know- yawns that just feel good.)  When the nurse comes and re-checks my vitals, my BP is back down to like 135/80 – still high for me, but I’ve been in the ER for like 3 hrs now… like it’s stressful or something?

I got to the ER at 6pm and there was 1 person in the waiting room.  I left after 10pm.  We hadn’t had dinner. Despite the shot-in-the-butt of steroids the nurse I’m exhausted. Fyi, the nurse was awesome – she was funny and chipper and DAMN GOOD with that needle.  She stuck me before I knew what she’d done and had that burning shit in me before I could even tense – and steroid shots hurt almost as much as tetanus.

So we get home at almost 11 and finally eat dinner (Wendy’s – yay what’s open past 10pm….). I eat and crash in bed before midnight.  I know I’m “supposed” to not eat 3-hrs before bed but F-that when I just left the ER.

I didn’t post on FB; I kept in text-contact with my family & my husband was texting his parents to keep them informed.  Part of me wanted to take a selfie with my husband while using the nebulizer and make the valentine’s day joke – or a joke about him loving me too much – but as funny as my asthma-riddled brain was, I had enough oxygen to realize that was…. weird? Bad. Not as funny to anywhere outside my brain.  I blame the twists of carbon dioxide whispering such corrupting thoughts.

Ironically, I hovered around 95% oxygen when they brought me in (hence the “why is she here” looks…) and then stayed close to 97-98% after the treatment.  Granted, anything under 95 IS officially “less than ideal” territory and the high BP means SOMETHING wasn’t working right.  And the last time I was in the ER, I wasn’t pulling oxygen into my lower lungs, couldn’t talk and STILL showed 92% – I think I somehow throw off those machines.  Or my brain/body is more sensitive to low-oxygen.

My back is still sore this AM (I got up at 5:30 to write this up – yay steriods… ) But I can tell it’s “my diaphram doesn’t really ever get a break, so it’s sore after working hard” sore NOT “I’m working hard and it hurts” sore.  And yes – those are different.

Tomorrow you’ll get the post that was scheduled to go up today… but I thought this should get some expediency.