Daily Archives: January 3, 2007

If I’m not writing a lot lately.


I’m not supposed to be awake right now but I’m having trouble sitting still, or sleeping, or anything, because I’ve been given Prednisone and Decatron and my mind is not working right.

I’ve been in an asthma crisis for a couple days now. Two trips to the emergency room. The first time we got good people. The second time we got awful people. (As in, people who didn’t know some very basic information about how asthma works, but who were determined not to show it. My mother — who was a respiratory therapist — told us later that this is what some medical professionals do when they don’t want to admit not knowing something, is they pile on the arrogance and condescension and bullshit and hope that substitutes for knowledge. Of course, when I suggested that even a non-doctor such as a respiratory therapist would be a better thing than the doctor I had, the nurse pretty much claimed that respiratory therapists only get two years of education, after which I pointed out that that’s two years of formal education and often decades of constant working with lungs and only lungs, both of which are more than most doctors get.) We had to get a second doctor in there to even get someone who had a clue that for the situation I was in I needed a steroid and not yet another bronchodilator.

I probably should be in a hospital until this is over, but what happened tonight was roughly the following: After already having taken two doses of Prednisone since starting Prednisone treatment, I started making a really scary noise (that I can’t really describe, but that is really awful) that Laura said sounded like my airway was closing. I took more Albuterol than is technically advisable, in order to get me well enough to go to the ER in something other than an ambulance. When I got there, I of course sounded great with all that Albuterol in my system, and they decided there wasn’t actually a problem. (What I wanted was to be kept until the Prednisone actually took a longer-term effect and got me stabilized enough so that I wouldn’t be bouncing in and out of the ER all the time.) Actually they didn’t listen to a word we said pretty much, they sounded as if they were speaking off a script and nothing we said could make them deviate it, and certainly nothing actually in medical textbooks or anything would make them deviate from it. (He even pulled as far as I know a random number out of his ass to say how long Prednisone takes to work (after I said how long it took to work for me and how long it worked for), in order to insist that I wasn’t giving accurate information, and then the second doctor told me (without hearing this) the exact amount of time it takes to work usually, which was the time I’d said in the first place. He was utterly confused when I repeated the first doctor’s numbers at him.)

(They didn’t seem to get that given that I don’t encounter many asthma triggers in a sterile hospital environment, I wasn’t going to go into a nasty asthma attack on the spot, whereas at home there are many triggers, etc. Actually, they didn’t seem to get much of anything, it was an astounding case of practically an entire ER having an attitude problem — like they were nasty to us from the moment we got there for no apparent reason.)

The second doctor had more of a clue and gave me a longer-acting steroid and sent me home.

And of course I started having more asthma attacks the moment I hit the cold air outside.

So I’m back home and the next trick is keeping me breathing well until I can call my real doctor in a couple hours and see if I can get something more productive going on.

But these steroids are messing with my sleep so much (even if they’re keeping me breathing) that I’m not sure I’m going to be coherent by the time I get to talking to a doctor. I’m already at a scary level of sleep deprivation and I’m not showing any sign of sleeping. And I can feel bits of my mind just not working while other bits are going high-speed. I am afraid that by the time I get to a doctor I will be unable to type anything. (And that the sleep I am losing will not help, but I can’t figure out how to sleep nonetheless.)

The good thing is that my mother, who did do the two years of formal education then decades of experience with lungs (unlike the doctor, nurse, or triage nurse there, all of whom rely on such unreliable things as pulse oximeters), told me all kinds of things to do, that none of these doctors would have even come close to knowing. Things even like what position of my arms and torso will ease my chest muscles the most while sleeping so that I can breathe with minimal effort (my breathing has just stopped several times recently while I was trying to fall asleep), and just all kinds of details as to how to get through the night tonight, as well as some good guesses as to exactly which parts of my lungs are screwed up. Contrast this to a doctor who had never even heard of the paradoxical effects Albuterol could sometimes cause (and seemed to believe that by bringing up the possiblity, Laura was doing something more like suggesting that goats were flying out of his ears), let alone even begin to think he should figure out whether this or something else was what was happening to me (since my breathing seems to get worse in some respects after I use the inhaler, and it could either be because the inhaler’s working or because the inhaler’s doing something really dangerous, and it’s kind of useful to figure things like that out). I’ll take the “not trained enough” RT any day.

And also, if I seem to not be myself lately, Prednisone is really screwing with my head.

(Also a person wrote to me about a very serious problem going on with their child’s school. I’ve been trying to figure out how and when to reply for a long time and never did. I think right now it’s safe to say I’m not going to be able to, and I hope you’ve found someone more equipped to answer, and I’m really sorry about that.)