Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stupid Asthma

Last night I finally went to the walk-in clinic associated with my doctor's office and saw a PA there. The machine said that my oxygen levels were good. It was just about two hours since I used the rescue inhaler for the third time that day and I was coughing when I breathed deeply. She asked me if I was coughing anything up, because there are some nasty viruses going around. I said no.

I told her that I was making an appointment on Monday and she gave me a longer-lasting rescue inhaler. She said that she thought that my daily steroid wasn't working for me and I really needed to replace it, not the rescue, but that she wanted my regular physician to make the decision about what to try. I agreed.

So we got back in the car and drove home, and as we drove my breathing got easier.

Stupid, stupid anxiety.

I was relieved that it I still had the cough if I breathed really deeply (cause that meant it wasn't ALL "in my head"), but a lot of the chest tightenness , okay all of it, went away. I had talked to the doctor about the possibility of some of my symptoms being caused by being worried about having symptoms. He said that anxiety can cause athsma symptoms and I need to treat the symptoms. He seemed genuinely uninterested in whether a particular symptom/attack was caused by anxiety or not.

Okay, last night I had more troubling breathing when I lay down, so I settled myself in the recliner surrounded by comfy pillows. I woke up with the adorable Shih Tzu curled on a pillow right below my face.

So this morning I feel cruddy.

And I think I have a cold.

My sense of my own body, my ability to understand what is going on in it is all wacked out.

Do I have a slight headache and feel tired because I didn't sleep well, or because I have a cold?

Do I have post-nasal drip because the dog slept in my face, or because I have a cold?

Do I have this horrible cough because my asthma medicines aren't working or because I have asthma and a cold?

I think I have a cold.

I feel like I have a cold, but maybe I feel like I have a cold because the PA suggested that I did.

See, most people don't know how much control their mind has over their body. I haven't studied the biology, but I have come by enough of it second hand through the discussions of the ethics of medicine and human research that I do. I know how powerful that connection is.

Stupid anxiety.

I probably have a cold.

On the up side, whether it is a cold or an asthma flare-up the response is the same: treat the symptoms.

Now where is that humidifier?


  1. And if you didn't have a cold before, all the "I might have a cold" suggestions in this post just made it so!

    It is amazing how much of everything really does start in our head (doesn't mean it's all IN our head though).

  2. DO NOT USE A HUMIDIFIER! In the class I took about asthma that was the one thing the lady went on and on about. Most doctors will tell you to use one but the studies and specialists say NO. It causes mildew and that makes the symptoms much worse.

  3. I am so sorry your asthma is bugging you and that you feel anxious about it. I hope you get a handle on it.


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