10 February 2007

More Whine

My lungs feel like they’re size of a tea cup. I thought indulging in some self pity might be therapeutic.

Last week began with a few days of coughing and dull chest pain…which became sharp chest pain…became much worse…and then clima into a field trip to the ER. I napped on a comfy stretcher and floated in and out of consciousness between bouts of a flurry of different tests and blood samples. Highlights include the x-ray and the CAT scan. And the forensics magazine in the ER waiting room that was full of cheesy, melodramatic articles about assessing corpses. Some of them cited Wikipedia.

Finally, “You just have really bad pneumonia in both lungs.”

Great. My lungs are now inflamed sacks of fluid, which explains the pain. They sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics, lots of ibuprofen, and a warning to come back if I couldn’t breathe again.

Funny thing was that I felt fantastic immediately after coming back from the ER. Better than I had in weeks. It even felt as if I had been somehow profoundly changed by the experience. I wanted to run around and shake people and say, “Look! See? I’m changed! I’m a different person!”

My coughing decreased, the chest pain disappeared, and I thought I was going to make a record recovery. It stayed that way for a few days, and I was religiously careful about taking my antibiotics, drinking lots of fluids, and bundling up to protect my lungs from the freeze-dried New England air.

Then, night before last, the sharp chest pain reappeared. This time, it wasn’t enough to impede breathing…but enough to take 10 minutes of tears and grunts to get out of bed and grab my bottle of ibuprofen.


And now, a new development--yesterday I was winded after just walking down the hall. I guess all that fluid and inflammation doesn’t leave a lot of room for oxygen. Makes it hard to laugh.

If nothing else, it’s given me a good dose of empathy for people who deal with hidden pain on a daily basis. There’s not much I can do about my pain except pop a few more ibuprofen and sit it out. I feel strangely trapped. I can’t express to people when I’m in pain because it would worry them and there’s nothing they can do either. And there’s also this irrational shame that if I had taken better care of myself or done something different, I wouldn’t have pneumonia.

But I don’t want sympathy or empathy. I want it to go away. What really stings is to have felt like I was recovering so fast, and then crash down to a worse place than before. Clearly, I fucked up somewhere. Maybe it was last Friday night. Walking through that cold, damp, soccer field, and staying so long out there was not a smart move. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t been drinking as much fluids the past few days. Or I really should have taken the time off classes to just stay in my room and rest. Or spent more time searching for a voodoo doll in Tim’s room.

[Insert rose-colored glasses.]

Blessing count:

  1. I’m young. If I were old or really young, this would kill me.
  2. I had almost a week of feeling pretty awesome.
  3. I’ve never ridden in an ambulance before. Great experience. Hope it never happens again.
  4. Olin is full of really nice people. Probably couldn't have picked a better place to have pneumonia. A big thanks to Andrew Coats, Tim Hanna, Jessie Lin, and Ryan Hubbard for their help.
  5. I will get better. Be a low pass filter. In a few months, this will all seem really funny and I’ll have loads of oxygen to laugh hard about it.


Nikki said...

Not being able to breathe is one of the worst (possibly the worst) feelings I've ever had. I'd hardly consider it whining...

cee said...

1) stay warm (ie, inside)
2) get a humidifier going at all times
3) get an expectorant (the medicine which makes you cough out crap)
4) sleep a lot
5) eat lots of vegetables
6) sleep more
7) steam bath yourself (long long hot showers), and when you feel like coughing inside the shower, try to cough up crap. the more you get out, the more room ya got to breathe
8) make yourself hot-lemon juice (1 lime or 1/2 lemon's juice, 3 table honey, pinch sea salt, hot water in a mug). drink 3-5 of these a day.

good luck hun, it'll take awhile. and antibiotics don't really work so well (at least, they never did for me)

also, you may want to get tested for pertussis (whooping cough). it's more common than you think.

Alyssa said...

Oh babe, I wish I were there to mother you and bustle around and fix stuff. I miss you. I love you.