Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Asthma Conundrum

Right now a cool, refreshing, even soporific, breeze is blowing through the open window to my left. The temperature is, according to Weather.com, 75 degrees with a humidity of 51%, which is ideal for any asthmatic let alone any person.

The temperature is so perfect that you could either bundle up under the covers and feel comfortable that way, or you could lay stark naked with the windows open and feel comfortable that way too. I mean it's just awesome weather (Yet don't tell that to my mother, because I'm certain she has the heat on right now).

So you'd think that at 03:45 in the morning, and since the weather is so "perfect" as I describe it, that I'd be sound asleep like a baby. Yet unfortunately that's not the case. It's not the case because -- and unfortunately for us allergy sufferers -- along with this great weather also comes what some experts describe as one of the worse fall allergy seasons in a long time.

Fall is already described by the experts as a bad time for allergies. If you don't believe me, and do and want to learn more, you can check out a post like this one.

Yes this article explains that it will be worse in 2011. The article, by Megan Moore at News Channel 10, "Allergy Sufferers Brace For Rough Season," explains that 2011 might be one of the worse allergy seasons because of all the rain we've had lately. The more rain, she explains, the more ragweed. The more ragweed, the worse off allergy sufferers -- like me -- will have it.

So that might explain why I've been up the past seven days at 3:45 a.m. amid a pile of used and unused tissues watching TV or, as I'm doing now, blogging. I've also been going through antihistamines like Lays potato chips to the point the wife is probably going to start lecturing me about abusing them.

It's says Claritin should only be used once a day, but I'm finding the only way I can make it through the day is by using it twice a day, and supplementing it with a benadryl before bed. The benadryl makes sure I at least get a couple hours sleep.

The kicker her is my allergies feel fine for most of the day, unless I'm near my asthma triggers, of which are present in large degrees under my bed, in the closets under and over boxes, and in my man cave in the basement. If I move boxes, or shuffle through old clothes, I'm done for the day. Which basically means I'm reserved to playing chess with my son, or memory games with my daughter, which I suppose isn't so bad.

Which sucks.

So, you may be wondering, how does this effect my asthma? Well, that's the conundrum. You see, I don't think my asthma will ever put me in the hospital again. We can get into that discussion later, but it's more of a Nemesis and burden than something I fear will end my life.

By this I mean it causes me bronchospasm, and some air trapping, but not enough to prevent me from doing my daily chores, at least considering I have a job indoors, in the air conditioning, and my asthma nor my allergies rarely bothers me when I'm working. It's just when I'm exposed to those dreaded asthma triggers -- the dog gone rag weed, molds, fungus, and pollens.

And you can't avoid them. They are everywhere. They are ubiquitous.

So I can feel the asthma right now. I can feel the little bronchospasms in my chest, which kind of feels tight. Yet I can take in a normal breath, and my peak flows are normal. Plus I rode 2 miles on the bike yesterday and my asthma didn't bother me. Yet still I'd estimate I went through about half an Albuterol in the past 48 hours.

Hence, you have the asthma conundrum. I could go to my doctor complaining of my symptoms, he'd do PFTs on me (I did one on myself the other day at work ant my FEV1 was 80%, which is good), and he'd find nothing out of the ordinary.

I don't have an infection, nor a cold. Yet here I am using as much Ventolin as I did 12 years ago when I had my last hospital stay and my last time on a steroid pack. Yes, believe it or not, it's been that long. Not saying I haven't needed one in the past 12 years, I've just fought through the few troubled spots with the meds I have here at my home.

Of course self treating myself might be something some of you new to asthma might frown upon, or any doctors reading this might frown upon, or perhaps my own doctor would frown upon, yet if you've had asthma the way I've had it for 40 years now, you wouldn't think twice about it.

If you new me the way my parents, brothers, wife and children do, you wouldn't think twice about it either. It's not like someone wants to call his doctor every time he has to cross a mole hill. You wouldn't think twice when you saw me puffing every 30 minutes through the course of the past 48 hours, gradually puffing out the contents of my Albuterol into my airways.

Which is why when I went to a family picnic on Sunday I had to set my plate on the table as I was putting food on it, lest someone might have observed how unsteady my hand was.

As I make my way through work today not one of my patients will notice their respiratory therapist has asthma, because there will be no symptoms of it other than the shaky stethoscope upon their backs. I'll be fine at work. It's allergy free.

And as I'm sitting at the desk charting, and my doctor sits down next to me to interpret his EKGs at around 10 a.m., I probably won't even think about asking him for his advice. Because, quite frankly, I don't think there's anything he can do even if he wanted to.

My asthma is treated, and I think that's why this doesn't end me up in the hospital like it might have 12 years ago. Yet there's still no cure for the allergies. And yes, I did go through the allergy shot thing, and I have gone through allergists as you can see one such experience here.

Okay, so now you might be thinking: why doesn't he just shut the windows and allergy proof his house? Great question. And I've already thought of that. Money is the reason. Plus, consider that last year I only needed my air conditioner one time in July, as July 2009 offered only one plus 80 degree day. In 2010 there were 20 days when the temperature exceeded 80 degrees.

If every year was like 2010 it would be an easy decision to splurge and pay the $1500 to put in central air. Yet with four kids, $1500 must be spent wisely, especially considering my 2 older kids are already wearing braces. And when those come off I'll have to pay for college.

My man cave is also the unfinished part of the basement. So you can get me there too. Yet if you want to loan me the money to finish it I'd be more than happy to finish it off. My email is above and my password for paypal is my email address.

So you see, in the ideal world allergies would go the same way I wish mosquitoes would go. In the ideal world the windows would be shut and some air filter system on. Yet air filter systems cost money.

Funny thing is, though, that even if I had air right now, there's no need for it. I'm reassured by that by the cool, refreshing breeze wafting over me as I type. I love it. I love it except for the ragweed wafting over my nares, some entering....

Hence you have the asthma conundrum. Or should I call it the allergy conundrum.

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