I like breathing.

Yeah, so – I spent Tuesday night in the E.R.  No rumors of my demise, please – I’m fine. I just couldn’t breathe very well.

It was scary. I’m not gonna lie.  Saturday I started having a little trouble breathing. Nothing dramatic, just … it felt like I had run a mile or so, when I hadn’t. Sunday it got a little worse. Stop thinking about yelling at me. I know, I know, I should have gone to the E.R. immediately. I’m a dummyhead. I know.

By Monday it was pretty weird. I was having random attacks of feeling like I could NOT get enough air into my lungs, no matter what. And when I tried, it kind of hurt. Like I was fighting to expand my lungs, and an evil invisible boa constrictor was fighting to keep them contracted. Okay, you are right, I definitely should have gone to the E.R. at this point. Dummyhead. Got it. Movin’ on.

I procrastinated the whole hospital panic thing because I had a regular doctor’s appointment scheduled for Tuesday afternoon anyways. Still dumb, but at least I was not entirely eschewing medical attention. Dr. G checked me over, did an EKG (very good), checked the oxygen saturation in my blood (also very good), and told me that it was “probably” no big deal at all, but just to be 100% super-duper-on-the-safe-side sure, he:

a) wrote me a consultation to a cardiologist for a stress test
b) ordered a ton of blood tests and a chest x-ray
and
c) strongly strongly strongly recommended that I go to the E.R. so that they could definitively rule out a heart attack.

In the name of honesty, I will tell you, I walked out of his office thinking “yeah, right, heart attack. I’m 45 years old and in the best health of my life, I am NOT having a heart attack and I am NOT going to go sit in an E.R. for hours and hours for no reason!”

And then my common sense caught up with me. Drat that sense! I don’t use it very often – perhaps because sometimes it is decidedly inconvenient. I remember my grandma’s first heart attack. It was right before I joined the Navy. The only symptom she had was shortness of breath. My grandpa (purveyor of a great deal of common sense, except where his own health was concerned … hmm…) called 911. It was a very good call.

Well, I spent my 20′s and 30′s completely ignoring good advice from my doctors. In my own defense, the socialized medical care that I was receiving at that point (Navy hospital – they try, but they are really really undertrained and overbooked) was often worth ignoring. But still, I’ve been trying to do better lately. So I went to Onslow hospital’s emergency entrance. They were packed. Call me a stereotyper, but I really didn’t thing that an emergency department would be that crowded at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. Sigh.

I won’t bore you with all the details. The short version of the next 12 hours of my life is – Bo drove out to be with me. They did three rounds of blood tests and a chest x-ray. Then they made me take prednisone (ack! bleck!) and two breathing treatments. I had a very bad reaction to the breathing treatments. The nurse said “you will feel sort of ‘jittery’” – yeah, apparently for me “jittery” = full-on panic attacks.

By 2 a.m. they were pretty sure that I was not having a heart attack or a blood clot.  So they released me. The official diagnosis was “reactive airway disease” which basically amounts to an allergic reaction. I am still going to follow up with the cardiologist, the chest x-ray, all of that. But chances are, the mass quantities of dog hair and the dust that the dogs bring in, coupled with the fact that my cleaning routines have been off-kilter since my last trip to Lynchburg, are to blame.

In other words, I’m not dying. I just don’t vacuum enough.

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1 Comment

  1. November 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    [...] At one point mid-afternoon I got up to make a sandwich. Somewhere around spreading the almond butter, I noticed that I was a little short of breath. Weird. I’m in pretty good shape, walking to the kitchen doesn’t usually wind me. The rest of part one of my saga is here. [...]


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