Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Monday, May 18, 2009
    Minty Fresh Oxygen

    For nearly a week I've been down with some sort of horrible respiratory problem. I started with a persistent cough and then, gradually, a fist closed around my lungs and I started wheezing as well. Not wanting to take off work I resorted to raiding the sample closet and treated myself with an albuterol inhaler and cough medicine. I left work early on Friday, thinking that a day or two of rest would help, but it got worse. Saturday night I nearly went to the emergency room because every few minutes I'd have to pop upright to catch my breath. I have no history of asthma, by the way.

    Sunday morning I decided to visit the after hours clinic run by The Firm and one of the docs there checked me out. I was wheezing badly enough that he offered me oral steroids - which I declined - but did give me a steroid inhaler and antibiotics, and told me sternly not to show up for work today. I followed his advice. I felt better a few hours after starting the new meds and am a lot better today.

    Possible interesting side note: as an experiment this morning, I decided to try drinking coffee (an old home remedy for asthma; the caffeine has an effect similar to theophylline). I hadn't had any coffee for two days, as I usually lose my taste for it when I get sick. All I can say is, IT WORKS. I noticed the difference in my breathing by the time I had finished my first cup. I did develop some shakiness, probably due to the caffeine-albuterol combo, but I didn't care. All I could think was "Oxygen! Minty fresh oxygen!"

    As I said above, I have no history of asthma, but I did have an infection similar to this about eight years ago. This one was worse. I really can't explain the wheezing or bronchospasm (I don't smoke, either). I do have a lot of empathy for people with chronic respiratory problems: this was no fun at all. Hopefully it won't come back any time soon.

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    Friday, May 15, 2009
    What's Your NPR Name?

    I'm Alrice Troncones. Go here to figure out what yours is, then post in comments.