Sunday, October 21, 2007

The catarrh

I started this post last week, then everything sort of went out the window due to the wildfires. We are fine. MPOW was closed Tuesday, but otherwise its been pretty normal. The air quality still sucks, though much improved over earlier in the week.

I know my naval-gazing on my health problems may seem pretty cavalier when there has been such bad happenings here. But so far, no one I know has been directly affected. A friend of the sister of one of my co-workers had their home burned down, but that's the closest connection I've had so far. We had evacuees from all over using our PCs at work, and apparently all the hotels near here are full, but otherwise, it's pretty normal.

Of course, my lungs have been unhappy. I went to my primary last Friday. She diagnosed bronchitis--I'd made that diagnosis 2 days earlier, and went in to get a script for an antibiotic.

From last week:

I am trying to figure out roughly how many times I've had bronchitis. I know the first time I was prescribed antibiotics for it was in college, i.e., more than 25 years ago. The doctor there kept talking about removing my tonsils, whether or not it was tonsilitis, which I must have had ten times at least. I know I'd never had antibiotics before, or had anyone talk to me about asthma before.

I remember a bad bout of bronchitis when Emily was a baby. We lived on a hill. It was before we had a car, and I couldn't push her stroller up the hill without coughing fits.

The word "catarrh" comes from the Greek "katarrhein": kata- meaning "down" and rhein meaning "to flow."

Two weeks ago, the Santa Ana began to blow. Our sunsets were gorgeous from the dust in the air. But my respitory allergies began to send mucus flowing through my head and chest. Shortly thereafter my bronchia started seizing up. I upped the Flovent for the asthma, and it got a bit better, just the dry little asthmatic cough.

Then I lost my voice entirely--a viral laryngitis. I pushed fluids and took ibuprofen like mad. The cough deepened. Matt said I had a cold. I said ok, and kept working. On Thursday, the cough was the type that people don't want to be near. It wasn't very productive, as my mother would say, but the tiny bit of mucus I coughed up was pea green. I said bronchitis, and called for an appointment. I actually got in to see my primary care MD in 24 hours.

When I got to the office, the nurse went through twenty questions. 11 days, no fever, the usual meds. There was some mix-up about the room I was in, but my primary care finally came and apologized. She did a good listen to my lungs and agreed with my diagnosis. She ordered doxycycline, then told me to use albuterol with Flovent and Sudafed along with Robitussin DM every four hours, plus Benadryl at night. I said that albuterol gives me insomnia. She said to use it anyway. I have been politely ignoring that instruction, because I felt I needed sleep more than anything. So I'm taking the antibiotic with Flovent every four hours, and a half dose of Sudafed twice a day; Robitussin and Benadryl at bedtime. I am definitely rattling with all the meds. The cough is much improved, however, so I will keep up the regimen a bit longer.

I seem to have a headache, nothing dreadful, just sort of boring, with difficulty focusing. I'm going to sleep, and hope to feel better

There are wild fires burning in the County, including one not too far from where I work. That helps with perspective.


I kept going with the meds. I think the bronchitis has mostly cleared up. The asthma was pretty bad Monday. I caved and used albuterol once that morning, and got an acute case of the jitters, which did not help me deal with the general sense of calamity. Tuesday, the whole library system was closed, so I mostly stayed in bed. So, I've been ok. I think the Benadryl and the Flovent kept the worst allergies/asthma at bay.

I finally got my schedule switched! No more six days in a row. I will now be off alternate Fridays, work alternate Saturdays, and in every Monday. I think that will work better for me and for work, as there are more meetings on Mondays than on Fridays. So that's my big new and good.

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