Because of my asthma, I always have had a rescue inhaler… Since I was about five. Thankfully, I don’t have to use it often anymore. Throughout school I had to use it quite often because my asthma is mostly exercise induced and we had to do a weekly mile (two in high school) in physical education. I also got sick a lot in school, and illnesses love to settle in the lungs if you have asthma.
While I don’t have to use it as often, I do still need it periodically, so I still have one. Turns out, cold weather can lock down my lungs. Extreme allergen attacks, exercise, and illness also trigger asthma symptoms. But I still only use it once a week at the most frequent (usually one or two times a month).
For those of you who don’t know: A rescue inhaler is a near-instant action inhaler that delivers a dose of medication to your lungs to open your bronchial passageways and allow for more oxygen to reach your lungs. My inhaler is an albuterol inhaler. Albuterol can cause rather severe shakiness and restlessness, as well as a slight increase in heart rate. I try to avoid taking it unless absolutely necessary (wheezing constitutes absolutely necessary because I don’t actually wheeze very often anymore).
I talked to my mom yesterday and ended up coughing a lot. She said it sounds very much like the cough I’d get with bronchitis as a kid. Lovely. That would also explain why I am not getting better as quickly as Dan did.
Today, my breathing got really bad. I was actually wheezing a little, and I just felt out of breath. While some of my other symptoms seemed a little better, I feel as though I’m actually getting a little sicker. By this evening (okay, it’s 1am as I write this, so I guess technically “yesterday evening” is correct), I definitely felt the need for some drastic breathing help.
Now, after years of using an inhaler, I know exactly how much it works in my body. This wasn’t going to be enough.
Luckily, I suppose, I have another option. I have a personal nebulizer.
A nebulizer is a machine that consists of a compressor attached to a mouthpiece. The compressor runs air through a hose that then runs through liquid medication, then the medication is aerosolized and you inhale it through the mouthpiece. The wet aerosolized medication is much easier for your body to absorb, and you end up getting a lot more medication in the 5-10 minute treatment.
Guess what medication I have for my nebulizer? Yup, albuterol.
Since you get a lot more medication, the side effects are WAY more intense. I can’t stand them, so I only use it if I REALLY need to.
Well, tonight I felt like I REALLY needed to. And it is still as awful as I remembered. I felt fine for a bit, making me wonder if the medication was still at full potency (it’s old)… Then I moved. Yikes! The chest pounding and tremors were almost simultaneous. Thankfully, the tachycardia didn’t go nuts (heart rate stayed under 80 bpm from what I could tell without my pulse-ox), but I could definitely tell my heart was there and beating. Then I start shivering, but without being cold. Then as those wear off, I get a headache and nausea. I didn’t remember the last steps, so it might be my cold or other Chronics, but that’s where I am now.
Though, despite the nasty side effects, I can breathe a lot better. I guess that makes it worth it. If I’m not feeling any better at all tomorrow though, I’m either going to go to urgent care (especially if I feel worse) or I’ll be calling to make a doc appointment for first thing on Monday. I’m hoping the nebulizer has loosened up all the junk in my lungs so I can cough it up and get it out.
Now, if only the side effects would wear off enough that I could get some sleep… That’d be great.