Posts Tagged ‘bronchitis’

Feeling low

I’m feeling a bit low energy from being sick for so long. I have either some lingering annoying bronchitis or really really hair-trigger asthma left over from the bronchitis or both.

As I lie here working and reading blogs and listening to music, I’m fairly content but then it’s like the wall goes down, some kind of wall between between me and all the times I’ve fucked up and disappointed other people. Past failures are playing over and over in my head. I think of whole communities I was close to, that treated me so well, like I was a minor rising star or at least a promising talented person, and somehow… I’d just drop the ball and drift away. How many times has this happened! And how bitter it is when I not only do that, but someone then writes me to explain how I let them down.

Nothing in particular sparking this, I’m just annoyingly ill and my parents were visiting. I’m reading a lot and playing Galcon in odd moments.

Emotional flatness… or meltdown. Not a fun choice!

Here I am in bed being vaguely pissed off at the world, with a nasty headache.

i am so sick of being sick

Cheeriest music of the day: The Kabeedies…

Pins and needles in my head, too

I can do anything. That’s why I try to do everything, no matter what. Pushing myself physically backfired this last week. When I got home from my trip I didn’t try to walk around the house – I came out of the taxi and just wheeled myself into bed with a side order of Vicodin because my leg wasn’t working and the pain was nasty. All week I struggled trying to keep out of the chair. I did it, by cutting and cutting things I wanted to do, errands to run, stuff to do around the house, going-out-at-night plans. Order stuff off the net, rather than go to a store. Then on Friday ended up walking 2 blocks down Haight street (allowing myself 1 of the 3 errands I had meant to do) and was stuck. I didn’t feel like I could make it back to my car. I sat in the shoe place and felt extremely upset at the situation, at my body, and with myself for having poor judgment.

I am back in the place I was some months ago of doing something brief like laundry or getting myself food, then lying down to rest for a good while before attempting anything else. I have to scale back and be careful.

So, I can’t sit up and walk around and be active right now for a whole day. Yesterday and today I was super conservative, and I’m still getting worse. I’m not stressed, or upset, other than my basic fear of what is happening and my frustration at being in pain. The constant pins and needles in my legs, feet, and hands is maddening and my right leg’s pain and collapsing hit me worse today. My calf – the horrible nerve going down the outside! I sat on the floor this evening for a second to open my sewing box, and went OMG what was I thinking… I’m fucked.. that was the worst idea ever. But I was able to do it last week!!!! Over the course of the day I lost the ability to bend over and pick stuff up off the floor. When I whimpered with pain by accident while trying to get up from a chair that was the last straw, I said to hell with it and brought the wheelchair in the house again.

Suddenly the geography of my house is different. I need help keeping all the floors clear.

I don’t know or care if “It” is a mechanical/orthopedic issue which I aggravated by too much activity and sitting up 12 hours in a row and the long plane rides, or if it’s MS or what the fuck ever aggravated by too much activity and stress and no rest. Whatever it is, it’s flaring up big time.

Everything non essential will be put off.

Since I am now making dr. appointments again I will take time off to do that instead of just doing it and making the work up at night. That is part of my regime of less stress and more rest.

I wish to god i had some prednisone right now – I would take it in a flash. I know it’s bad shit but I would get it for a week for bronchitis or sinuses and then would end up feeling fan-fucking-tastic top of the world healthy and able for the next 3 months.

My plan is good – I just need to stick to it – I had such nice plans to go to the beach or the science museum with Moomin this weekend – and I scrapped them completely knowing it would be insane when I can barely contemplate going out to buy cat litter.

Nice things today – Moomin getting completely better after a sudden morning of barfing – helping Moomin with his homework – having pictures drawn for me – lying in bed reading umpteen Antonia Forest “Trennels” books since they’re very comforting and complicated (Oh the perfidy of Lois Sanger! She’s worse, and better drawn, than Widmerpool, don’t you think? ) and making spiders out of black yarn (body and legs), red glitter paint (eyes), and safety pins (to attach them on things). Rook’s LOTR alternate history game and finding dwarven words for it – Colin Powell’s declaration of support for Obama, which was lovely – Shaving Zond-7’s head – and having bits read to me last night out of the history book about Santa Anna’s leg and its burial – and how it was dug up and burned (which I am not seeing anywhere on the net – instead a lot about its burial with full military honors, and how his prosthetic leg, captured & stolen, is still in a museum in Illinois).

That’s where I’m at – I don’t need a lot of sympathy, it’s only been 20 years or so this has been happening – just want to talk about it, complain a little, figure out what I’m going to do about it, and declare it, hoping other people will hold me to my resolutions of intelligent behavior.

I’m sorry I fucked up. It’s hard to know where the line is. Sometimes I don’t do anything wrong, and things still go wrong and I end up getting worse. This time I feel like it is kind of my fault. Fingers crossed a few days or a week of resting and I’ll rocket right back up onto my feet.

I think the social worker’s call came at a time when I really am ready to hear it and am panicking anyway so willing to jump back into the Wheel of Diagnosis.

What to do when you have bronchitis

I will now explain what to do when you have bronchitis. I have vast experience in this field and have tried many techniques.

You will know when you have bronchitis because your chest hurts and you are coughing up curds of phlegm. Taking a breath in, especially in cold air, feels like liquid fire.

I have compared many method of reacting including the one where I go and beg for antibiotics. Antibiotics have never cleared it up any faster than just rest and good conservative management.

But when I have had persistent bronchitis I can’t clear up myself, then I’ll go for the antibiotics, and take a super high powered one for a couple of weeks straight. That approach, plus a lot of nebulizing, got me out of a 2 year bout of chronic bronchitis.

Also, begging for prednisone has worked well for me when I had the nastiest ever chronic bronchitis that would lay me low for a month and a half at a time. Take the steroids and bang, huzzah, breathing is possible! OMG I love the weeks of my life that I have been on prednisone, which makes me feel like fucking Superwoman, free of aches and pains and able to breathe huge deep intoxicating breaths. That stuff is dangerous and bad, but it’s been my best friend.

Sooooo what if you don’t want to do those things but figure you can clear it up by yourself? Now that I’m super robust and not in chronic breathing difficulties I do not need to go to the doctor. (You can remind me I said this, laugh & say I told you so, if I am still sick in a couple of weeks and go crawling to the hospital.)

Here is the secret!

Hydration! Drink a ton! You will pee every 20 minutes. It’s okay. Keep that snot flowing. Every time you pee, drink another small glass of water.

Steam! This is crucial in the morning when you wake up. Here is my technique:

* Drink a lot of hot tea. Cough a bit but not too much.
* Percussion. Get someone to bang on your back, karate chop style. You will want to cough. Don’t do it too much, yet.
* Plug up your bathtub or shower drain and run the shower on warm to hot. It doesn’t have to be on full blast. Hang out in the bathroom drinking your hot tea or coffee. Take off your clothes. Clip your toenails or shave your head. Floss your teeth really well. You can’t read a book, it is too steamy. Gargle with salt water. NOW COUGH LIKE HELL.
* Now you will be able to breathe but the air outside the bathroom will feel like hot lava.
* Go to bed and rest and drink a lot more hot drinks. This is crucial, do not get up and squirrel around with your newly cleaned up bronchioles.
* Expectorant works okay, but I think it is overused and can backfire. It is better to get a prescrip for it if you can. One guiafenesin 600 is like drinking a whole fucking bottle of Robitussin.
* Cough suppressant is a bad idea. You want to cough that shit up and clear your airways.
* Except at night, if you are coughing too hard to sleep, go for the codeine or whatever lesser suppressant you can find.
* If you are coughing that hard you need to rest more, anyway. Too much coughing will hurt and will damage your poor bronchio-whatevers. You do not want to hurt them. They will scar up and then you will get bronchitis at the drop of a hat for the rest of your life, like me.
* Orgasm is good for your bronchitis. It increases blood flow and fills you with awesome happy chemicals. It will make you breathe harder and cough, so probably there is a point of too much. But you’re in bed anyway. Go for it.
* Be extremely strict about smoke. Do not be around any sort of smoke, you fool. At all. For a good long while after the bronchitis clears up. Same with dust.

It is good to repeat that steaming cycle a few times during the day. Sit in the steamy bathroom as long as you can stand the boredom.

If you can’t afford to run your hot water that luxuriously, you can make do with a large towel and the sink. Plug up your sink. Stick your head in the sink and run the hot water. Spread a large towel over the back of your head so that it covers the entire basin of the sink. Breathe. The water will rise up to touch your nose. Fiddle with the sink plug and water flow until you reach a happy equilibrium. Breathe and try not to be too damn bored. Repeat every hour or two.

Okay I’m off to make myself a large pot of very disgusting Herbitussin or whatever that herbal tea is called. I will suck down large quantities of nauseating tea that tastes like Vicks Vap-O-Rub all day today.

Work, and some light blogging, and some chicken soup and naps.

Things I thought of

Lately I was thinking of a couple of things. How my grandfather would get me to thread his needles for him for mending or buttons, when I was little. I knew he partly wanted to make me practice a good skill and because he liked to see that I had confidence doing things like that. But also he did really like me to do it for him because of arthritis and not so great eyesight up close. Anyway, I think of my clever little hands, and my concentration as I licked the thread. Of beading projects and ticky little things I liked to make with fierce concentration out of elaborate kits or just made up. I have been able to do things to some extent, but I know I don’t have the same dexterity even in good moments in the last year or so. It varies with how good I’m feeling. And I’ve felt better and worse and better again so it is hard to believe that some loss of motor control will be permanent. True? Or not? How much? We’ll see.

I was thinking again of all the times I have had to lie down during role playing games. Going out, you can choose *not* to go out. But a game is scheduled with a lot of people and you have to show up to do your part or it throws things off. It is handy to have the games at my house because I know I can lie down in a pinch and still play. And people have gotten used to it I think. We have even dragged a small mattress into the living room when I have felt dire. And that’s worked out okay. I appreciate that. And I think of it right now and cling to it and think of the acceptance people showed me of my variable abilities to do things over the years, and it is comforting.

I cried a little on Minnie at one point today as I thought of Moomin and that he is so young and his memories mainly start around now. That he will not remember me running around with him or carrying him or sitting on the floor playing or doing “airplane” with him on my legs and instead he will grow up and I will just be more and more disabled. I sobbed a bit for about a minute and then came right back knowing he will know my other abilities that he appreciates — like the way he climbs onto my lap to zoom down any ramp or hill for a wheelchair ride and how his friends also beg for rides. I was never such a good runner arounder anyway, not so you’d really miss it. It just appalled me for a bit to think of how he will see me and what it means for him in the future.

The doctor today to a few things about things I can and can’t do, that I said, like having to lie down or trouble lifting things, “But that’s not NORMAL! Why didn’t you TELL ME!?” I explained that I just would say the main thing wrong, which has usually been either breathing problems with asthma/bronchitis, or walking problems. If you go off listing a million things wrong that seem kind of minor then in my experience you will be just dismissed. Or sent for a blood test and then told everything is okay. Dismissed… As I have been for so many years.

I read a paperback book of She-Hulk comics and more of The Futurians (which is interesting but rambly) and Minnie picked me up from the wheelchair store and took me thrift shopping and fed me meatballs and drove me to my appointment and then to get a decaf latte and home again. It was so good to be with her today. I went to Moomin’s parent-teacher conference and talked to his 3 teachers. I like his homeroom teacher best and she is the nicest sort of understanding and warm and perceptive person for him. HIs report card was awesome!

I am eager to get my ramp set up. I might be buying some crap off Amazon. My mom in law sent me chocolates and my aunt sent flowers with the most retarded message ever with something on it that I suspect is a reference to some baby talk term I might have said when I was 3… plus I know my mom made her do it. O well. I do like flowers and I feel sorry for her and her sad life… Oddly, she is the one who should have the flowers. My life is incredibly awesome and happy.

Tipping the balance

Okay!!! My cold is getting better. I might get bronchitis, but I hope not. Today is glorious because I can breath out of my nose again.

Also, I walked outside to the edge of the driveway and over to Nukie’s yard, with almost normal gait, before it started to hurt. Then it hurt, but I could walk back to the house with a slight limp. So that’s amazingly cheering. A bit frustrating, because for a moment I felt normal and could move normally.

Huzzah for walking!

Huzzah for getting up and getting stuff for myself without asking anyone for help!

*** earlier whiny bit, middle of the night, some night this week***
Moments when it feels like hallucination, surely I can just get up and walk around and go anywhere? I feel almost normal, lying here in bed. The whole “wheelchair” thing… a bad dream! Pity, rejected. Pain, maybe imagined worse than it was. If I try hard enough, or believe hard enough, it’ll go away! I was just being wimpy and afraid! I can brave it away! But then… no.

Against that, moments of sentiment and corny and yay:

– going really fast downhill
– going really fast downhill with Milo on my lap saying “This is cool, Mom!”
– wheelies
– arm muscles
– the nod of assessment & understanding from others
– being Oracle for a moment or two
– seeing the wheelchair glider kid on Avatar: The Last Airbender
– being competent

That’s how it is at the moment. I walked around the house pretty well today. Sometimes almost normally, and sometimes with a scary lurch.

Moody retrospective

parade 92
Originally uploaded by Liz.

i drove to oakland today and had a fine time hanging out. I sort of wanted to be in the wheelchair because of hurting, and in it, i can get around easier. It hurts a lot to get up and down from chairs and i stupidly kept getting on the floor. But didn’t want to be in the chair, because I didn’t want to… i dunno… something… I just didn’t. I thought of how nice it would be to go to a cafe in SF on the way home with Moomin, but I didn’t do that either because I realized I might be at some kind of breaking point. And the thought of going to a new place seemed daunting; exhausting. Would I be able to get into the bathroom, would I have to get up and down, would I ask for help to get the chair out of my trunk and put it in again, all that sort of thing. So I did not. I went to E.’s 11th birthday party and went in the chair. I still got up and down a stupid amount and exhausted myself further. Around a lot of kids somehow it’s hard not to. I laid down on the couch for a while, which helped. So although I had a good time today… a beautiful day… under the surface I was also brooding a lot about what to do every step of the way. If I get up do i take the cane or do i try to walk without it and just limp? I dont’ know what’s best. I am trying to graduate from crutches to the cane. And then sometimes think “oh fuck it… i refuse to put any weight on this fucking leg.” and go back to the crutches for a while.

Pain made me cranky today, too.

Here is a photo of me from 1992. I was roller-skating nearly naked down Market Street and I had the most glorious wonderful free feeling you can ever imagine. Not only at the pride parade painfully ecstatic to be there but also feeling physically very powerful and relatively healthy. My asthma was under control.

I had spent much of 90 and 91 becoming increasingly unhealthy with chronic bronchitis. And some kind of hell was happening which was probably either a cyst or PID or kidney infection or some combination and which kept getting all sorts of contradictory diagnoses but I had weird trouble walking or doing stairs for some of that time (aside from the severe asthmatic interludes). And then it all started to get better. I had good jobs and was writing a lot.

A rare photo of D. who hates to have her photo taken because of her family history which I suppose I should not talk about so I won’t but it is something of a phobia. If she did not have to look directly at the camera then it would be okay. It is not nice to talk about people’s phobias… I hate it when people figure out mine and want to ask questions or tease me. Anyway, it’s funny to see old photos of her sometimes in the background and just recognize the way she stands or a particular arm movement from far away.

Anyway I was putting this photo to show my baseline of when i used to be not disabled but as I typed this I realized that there were so many times before when I was and it was destroying my life because I didn’t know how to cope or what to do. When me and M. first moved to Berkeley in 1991 and I couldnt manage the stairs in Pax House and we were in the attic! Oh, my god! the hell of peeing in a bucket and crying… because i couldn’t make it to the bathroom, which was down a flight of stairs. And we were so poor I also remember crying because I wished i could have some fruit juice. M. trying desperately to support us. The only way i got health care was through the ER at Alta Bates. We were 22.

I guess before that in TX I was healthy before the accident and before I developed the really bad asthma. I would ride my bike all over and I loved that feeling. Then the asthma and strange physical problems in my back and shoulder made it really hard to keep riding my bike and I couldn’t get to work or class sometimes. I had no idea what to do and doctor visits would result in nothing.

The allergist fiddled my inhalers every 6 weeks or so. steroids fixed me occasionally. finally, constant nebulizing kicked the asthma pretty well. i did quite a lot of nebulizer intal + albuterol + theophylline pills + antihistamines + some other inhaler maybe atrovent or something like that. But for years the bronchitis would come back and then i’d be messed up for maybe 6 weeks or until i got prednisone.

Catching up

I’m really having to learn to schedule in down time for myself.

Thoughts flying by… on poetry, what writing is to me and has been, on intimacy, on many different people I’ve gone out with, lived with, been in love with, in the past. Looking at myself and trying to evaluate who I am. Complicated thoughts about religion and also romantic love and what people use them for. It all seems like very weird magic.

The blog class went well – I had fun – I wrote about it elsewhere – I’m exhausted – my other class was also good. & the office hours. & the grading was also fun and a challenge.

I see that teaching takes too much out of me for me to really think about anything else (as I was warned by many people). I could not switch from thinking about it to working on other work today though I tried. I fell asleep for about an hour… completely worn out from my day and a half of grading and teaching and teaching prep work and debriefing and the mental composition of emails or long comments I will never actually send to the students in response to both their writing work and the content of their essays.

So this semester will be okay, but very tiring. And then I don’t want to continue… I could teach the occasional weekend class, though. In the summer I could do a longer blog class and perhaps a wiki class.

Moomin and I went to the park and at random met the nice teacher from his school who’s on maternity leave so we had a long fierce school gossip. Then to Ep’s house for tea with her and Jo. I collapsed in a sprawly heap on the couch and couldn’t be coherent. Too exhausted and plus, at the park, it got cold and pain hit me again in a giant wave.

I’m finding that the rainy painful days exhaust me and so I think that on them, I should respond and plan in some extra periods for short naps. Really… again… I’m lucky that it didn’t happen until this month, this winter… and winter is almost over and then I’ll be fine. Also I have been very happy that once again I didn’t get the flu and I haven’t had bronchitis. I think this might make a whole year without prednisone. I have to be careful at sxsw, making sure to sleep as much as I can.

I printed out things for work and looked at them, gearing up for tomorrow when I hope to get some actual productive synthesis going.

Box of chocolates

Oh my gawd everyone is so nice and even though my weekend sucks because of having a cold, I love the world!! I got a big box of fancy chocolates in the mail with a sweet note! JM you rock my world! I’m happy to join the Society of Composition Teachers and Chocolate Lovers… I could not believe how nice that was or how nice it made me feel and it was the perfect surprise!

On other fronts, I will happily write in the NEXT citadel women’s party on my calendar right now so that we can get a posse together and increase the mayhem next month!

So I’m trying to just think “right, it’s a weekend where I loaf around, shirk, rest, recuperate, laze, wear silly hats, blow my nose a lot, nap, put all the books away that are by my bed, finish reading “Golden Witchbreed”, write a blog post or 2, print some handouts for class, nap some more, hot tub, fold 8 loads of laundry, and cook enormous pots of bubbling chicken soup” and to see that as positive and cozy and nest-like and caring-for-myself instead of hating life because it’s rude enough to give me a slight cold and I want to cry because I don’t get to go to a PARTY.

This plan will ensure that I get better incredibly quickly instead of sliding into bronchitis and weeks of hell! There will be no pushing it, or overdoing it, or thinking “oh probably everything will be just fine”. Instead, today is all about cooking, eating, and NAPS.

I have to go shopping AGAIN though b/c there’s no coffee. And suddenly (despite my stomach problems) I want some kind of fantastic turkey bacon and waffles and syrup and delicious coffee with condensed milk in it, and 5 different kinds of fruit. NOT vile dry cardboardy cereal from the box as I have been nibbling for the last two weeks. SYRUP. WHY am I typing things in all caps every few words? I feel yelly in the emotions, all over.

Sun. Loafing around. Must put together printouts of all the translations and have it ready to mail off. (afternoon: maybe Xyzzy & B. and their imaginary baby come over? hot tub? board games?)
Mon. teach, go talk to S. (lunch with Minnie?) Do science exp. with Moomin
Tues go to S.??
Wed. Teach. Lunch w. Lisa H. at That Place. Then, wiki thing all afternoon & into evening (arrange with Rook)
Thurs. work?!
Fri. Work (OR will i go to LA to this one-day mini conference? must look at ticket prices.) Oh, how nice it is to write “work” and think that it is a little more real than the work I just make up for myself to do. (Which is certainly “real” but… it’s different)

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Alabama language lesson

Quilty just had an argument with me over which is worse, Mississippi or Alabama. We’re both totally irrational and working ourselves really hard on our little computers here on the couch… But in between, in a sort of delirium, I argue that Alabama has more hate crime murders of gay people. (Also, it was in that Tom Lehrer song – it’s not that Mississippi gets the bomb!) She counters with Mississippi having more murders of civil rights activists and also a higher teen pregnancy rate. (No. Wait. I said that about the teens.) Then she says she can’t believe she’s defending Alabama at all.

This in the context of the Missouri legislature having put out an official document signed by all the republicans but not the democrats.. that there is a conspiracy or something to abort babies in the U.s. and then replace those future workers with immigrants. WTF!? Hahaha. I did not realize.. now maybe Missouri

Then we give a language lesson to her roommate about the word “geek” – it is not just for computers. It’s anything you’re really into. You can use it as a verb. “I’m geeking out over my iPod.” etc. He goes to bed, fleeing our overly geeky midnight lesson…

We’re happy as clams… typing clams… M. in Boston is watching “Alias” and geeking out on it…

A note that the bed here is SO comfortable. It’s perfectly soft and squashy. I don’t thrash around feeling like I’m being bruised and beaten all night… instead I just sort of SLEPT. Maybe I need a softer mattress. I always wake up in the night a million times going ow ow ow and having to turn over.

I should also note that my bronchitis is definitely not better. My sinuses are bleeding, and my chest hurt a lot all day. I’m still pretty sick and I pushed myself to walk around and also to work really hard. Tomorrow I’ll go to breakfast and then go right to the library and work some more but will stop at a reasonable hour. Oh. But then will go to a poetry reading at Poet House… women poets from japan.. translators… too good to miss. Is it possible? I have to go back to the library for sure to fill out forms for offsite books…?

Several hours later, after prednisone

OMG that stuff is awesome. I took 5mg about 4 hours ago and now I can take a real breath! I feel like I’m leaping around on the moon! Air is intoxicatingly beautiful. It goes all the way in and hits some kind of previously unreachable sweet spot inside my lungs. It’s still all cold & fiery in that horrible bronchitis way, but there’s air in there!

I wonder what my blood oxygen level was, before… I feel alert and keen, and suddenly like the whole world is more loveable… way less anxious…

As soon as Moomin comes out of the bathtub I’m going to go steam myself some more. And then to bed super early.

Lungs – really – take a minute to appreciate how lovely they are when they’re working! For just a minute I feel like my body is a beautiful machine instead of a stubborn old mule I’m stuck riding. (Cheerful
steroid delirium? Or oxygen intoxication?)