Debugging a Medical Problem

I went to the doctor Friday. A specialist in allergies and asthma. When I left, after two and a half hours, I was in tears. Happy tears. For the first time in a long while, I felt someone really tried to dig through my confusion and find the root of the problem.

You see, I have asthma. It’s been very well controlled until these past few months. I’ve had this long term cough/wheeze thing going on and those, I know, are difficult to debug. Then, as winter gave way to spring, it got much worse. To the point where I didn’t want to go out of the house, my cough/wheeze was so bad. I didn’t’ know if it was something infectious or what. Did I have allergies after all these years on Planet Earth? I honestly have felt like I had some sort of chronic lung or heart disease coming on and it scared me. A lot. (Yes, after being retired from the medical field for fifteen years, I still envision worst case scenarios, a byproduct of that line of work.)

My doctor thought my inhaler wasn’t doing its job and switched me to a stronger one. A month later, I was no better, completely disillusioned and depressed.

So I saw the allergy and asthma doctor at my primary caretaker’s request. God bless her. He was amazing. Old school. He took time with me, did an extensive workup, trying to debug this cough. Tests and treatments and fifteen minute Q&A’s. I never sat waiting for more than five minutes between things.

At the end, he believed it was either an asthma exacerbation that needed help or pneumonia (even though my chest xray was normal last month.) For the first thing, a steroid can generally kick start calming things down. For the second, he said two antibiotics would be needed. But, if we did both at the same time, we’d never know which one helped. So I’m on the steroid now, as I write the blog on Saturday. Started it 15 hours ago and already I feel better this morning. Only coughed once since I got up.

For the first time in months I feel hopeful. If things aren’t significantly better in a couple days, I’ll go on the antibiotic. And, he says once things calm down, he wants me back on the less potent asthma med. He suspects I don’t need the stronger one once we get me controlled again.

Halleluiah! There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. The main reason I wrote this blog is to remind us all, myself included, to keep trying. To keep digging. If you don’t feel right, keep asking questions until someone figures it out.

Oh, and the really good news? I don’t have allergies. Most particularly, I’m not allergic to cats. That would have made life very, very difficult, since Dude likes to lay across my neck and cuddle. Whew!

It’s been a while since I posted a Dude pic, so here he is, a much happier, not-so-little cat who’s loving that winter is GONE and sunshine is returning. 🙂IMG_8410

I hope your Spring is uplifting and sunny, with just enough rain to make things grow.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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8 responses to “Debugging a Medical Problem

  1. Great picture of Dude but he is a lot prettier in person. I don’t think pictures capture the ‘real’ him.

    I hate that you are going through this health problem but you nailed the bottom line keep digging, keep persevering. There are answers.

    • Dude says thank you for the compliment, though he prefers handsome over pretty. (Silly cat!) Yep, still struggling, still digging. I’ll get past this. I have to. There are more books to write. 🙂 Thanks, Lavada! You’re the best!

  2. Yay for no allergies!!!!!!! AND double Yay for a doctor who takes his time and listens to his patient! that is super awesome- especially now. AND I hope he finds the right answer for you. Sounds like a good start. AND I love me some Dude pics!

  3. It’s often such a long process discovering what’s behind these niggling health problems, but so worth it. So pleased you kept persevering and I’ve got everything crossed for you. And yay on the no-allergy diagnosis and the prospect of many more happy cuddles with your handsome boy.

  4. Oh Laurie. I am so sorry to learn you have asthma and you have my sympathy. I have suffered this horrible condition since I was 2 years old, the cause never have been found and often find myself on steroids along with my two inhalers. Mine isn’t caused by allergies either but find many things will trigger an attack, often cleaning products, perfumes and sprays which is why I avoid using them. Hope your doctor finds the right treatment to help you cope with it. And I’m always about if you want to chat about it. Take care. xx

    • well, I’m down to a bit of a cough that just won’t go away, so I’m starting to feel like things are getting under control. I have noticed that my cough gets worse when I’m cleaning house, yet I tested negative for those types of allergies. I can’t imagine what you’ve had to deal with for a lifetime of this. Yikes.

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