My mental image of an asthma attack is still primarily shaped by images from the media, such as the kid in Signs who has an asthma attack or Maggie Grace as Shannon in the early days of Lost. It’s worst nightmare material – stranded on a deserted island without medication; alien invation vs medical emergency. This is nothing new, I still think Mel Gibson and Lethal Weapon for shoulder dislocations. However, media images can be rather misleading. In 80% of severe asthma attacks, symptoms developed over > 48 hours.
My breathing has been pretty reasonable, considering that it’s pollen season and like most asthmatics, I am a poor judge of the severity of my symptoms and have a tendency to underestimate its severity. It was pretty bad earlier in the day, but as usual, it got better, enough so that I didn’t think about it, signed up for raiding and went about my day. Early afternoon, it was back in a vengeance. My chest was tight, my peak flow readings were down to 40%, respiratory rate around 25, pulse around 135 and I was talking in single word sentence inbetween coughing and wheezing. Not good. Followed the standard protocol, used my inhaler and thankfully, it helped. Breathing and stats improved, but I was still not breathing well.
There are a few immediate things I can do to help myself breathe:
- Medical Treatment: Use prescribed medication sensibly and call an ambulance sooner rather than later.
- Sit up and lean forwards.
- Control my breathing and don’t panic.
- Relax and avoid anything upsetting
It’s the last one on the list that I have the most issues with. I am easily upset. Upset is something I breathe in and soak up via osmosis. Chris doesn’t deal with upset very well as he’s the same and the more upset I am, the more upset he gets and the worse my breathing tends to become. And so I have to be a little more resourceful. I wish a less volatile emotional baseline. I wish I was like the paramedic who told me that his pulse and respiration goes down when under acute stress, so not to worry, he’ll take her of me, I just need to sit back and relax, well, lean forward and relax, same sentiment. It’s a fine sentiment, but when you can feel the oxygen not reaching your lungs and your erratically racing pulse, it’s not that easy to stop the panic and even when the panic is stopped, that does not equate to being relaxed.
I’ve not felt panicked in the last 24 hours. I’ve not slept much as I can’t breathe lying down, but I haven’t panicked. I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve been rather brutal about eliminating anything and everything that hurts my breathing. I can’t say that it’s helped, but it definitely has made it easier to get through the moment that’s just lasting forever. Upset is a bad bad thing. My breathing has been pretty horrible all day, but I’m okay with that. My peak-flow is hovering above 50%, pulse and respiratory rate is a little high, but not that high. I’m comfortable not seeking medical attention just yet. I am learning to look at the number and not how I feel. If I cannot keep the stats up, then I have no qualms about getting help. For now, we’ll see if it clears up by the end of the week and if not, new treatment plan required as this one is obviously not working well.
My day is spent yet again as one of those useless feeling days. I am lounging, watching TV, reading, unpacking happy thoughts from a big suitcase when I start to feel dizzy and listening to soothing heart rate lowering tracks. Not being able to breathe well have the horrible side-effect of making me deathly tired. I think about logging into WoW, but just remembering my password already seem like too much work. I’d much rather just recline on the couch with an audio-book, sinking into a mountain of pillows and not thinking about how long this will take or what I would like to be doing instead. I am here now. This is what I can do. It has to be enough. And thanks to the people I have in my life, it is.