Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Women of a Certain Age

I didn't have a single episode all February long, but I spent the first two nights of March struggling to breathe.  My chest tightens and it feels like someone has tied rubber bands around my lungs.  No matter how hard I try to suck in breath, I can't get enough.  I start to wheeze and there's a wet cough, but I never cough anything up.  It lasts for hours.  Sunday night, I was afraid to go to sleep.  What if my body can't get enough air while I'm sleeping and just gives up?  What if I have an apnea episode and just stop breathing? 
Eventually, I fell asleep and when I woke up...clear lungs.  Like nothing had ever been wrong.  Except that my neck, back, and chest were sore after hours of the intense labor that had been required to draw breath. 
Joe has been telling me to see our doctor for weeks, but who has the time?  I had episodes almost weekly through January, but not a single one in February.  I was also hesitant because I didn't see the point given that most of the time I'm just fine.  If I went in with perfectly clear lungs, what would they really be able to tell me?  Like the trip I took to the emergency room in December.  By the time they ran all their tests, I was breathing fine and there was nothing to see.
I called my doctor today and the secretary asked me why I wanted the appointment.  "I'm, um, having difficulty breathing.  Sometimes."  "We can see you today at 3:20."  "Today?  Really?"  "Yes.  You're having trouble breathing?" 
Oh, right.  Most normal people find that alarming and would assume you would want to immediately correct that situation and not suffer for 5 months.  Silly me.
I saw the doctor.  He listened to me describe all the symptoms for about 5 minutes before asking me if I'd ever had asthma as a child.  Nope.  No asthma, no allergies, no anxiety disorders.  Not ever. 
"Well, it can happen at any time.  I have diagnosed several women in the last few months in their 30s and 40s who never had asthma before."
With that statement, I ruled out the possibility that it was simply anxiety.  Because if it had been, that comment would have sent me over the edge.  Who are you calling a woman in her 30s or 40s, doctor?  I have been 30 for a mere two months.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, thankyouverymuch.  I am a mere two months away from 29 and a whole 9 years and 10 months away from 40.  Just so we're clear. 
He explained that asthma varies in severity and the triggers also vary.  For instance, the two most recent episodes I've had have been after I've dusted or cleaned a particularly dusty bookcase.  He also explained that it's worse in the winter, because you're cooped up in the house with doors and windows closed, which means you're exposed to higher levels of dust and dust mites and pet dander, etc. 
He said he could refer me out for a pricey asthma test or he could just give me a rescue inhaler and see if it works.  Works for me!
I took a test puff today so he could show me how to use it, and it already felt like things loosened up a bit. 
So now this after seeing an accountant for the first time on Friday to prepare our taxes and meeting with our real estate agent for the first time on Saturday to look at houses, thirty is certainly coming on a little strong.  As in, dude, we just met, back the hell up.