Last week, I was dealing with a lot of my own emotional war all week1, and ended up partaking in a few too many days of inebriation as a distraction from it all. That, combined with the vehicular cesspools that are the TTC right now, this weekend announced the introduction of some later TBD infection.
Monday morning announced who that infection happened to be: the all too familiar respiratory cold. Which for me, can be a an eviction notice to any sort of functional enjoyment of the winter. Ever since 2007 (I think?) when an undiagnosed bacterial infection in my upper respiratory tract went unchecked for three weeks & legitimately developed into a sinus infection2, I was prone to getting one or two of them throughout the winter season, especially in combination with a rapidly onsetting cold. These were a terribly affliction above & beyond the torture just a normal cold would give me (yes, just a cold).
I had a bad case of bronchitis when I was younger (grade 5 or so). The coughing and lung inflammation was bad enough to the point that it seems to have damaged my lungs to some extent that isn’t manifested under normal, day-to-day operation of my pulmonary system. However, when I get a cold (or worse) that drains cellular (and/or bacterial) debris through post-nasal drip into my chest (particularly overnight), I get an inflammatory-like cough that is not productive3. This coughing—if persistent long enough— further aggravates my bronchioles and results in an exacerbation of the cough; I go into a feedback cycle of feeling overheated, and being too warm also exacerbates the cough. An exacerbation that can lead to uncontrolled coughing fits that take some ridiculous measures to control4. Even after kicking the cold, the bronchitis would linger anywhere from 3-8 weeks, hoping not to relapse into another cold at some point along the way.
So. Colds are bad. Sinus infections are just even worse, because the drainage is so much more copious & purulent. Anyways. Colds were bad enough. Now having the propensity to get sinus infections when I get a cold, a single cold, developing into a sinus infection, can put me out of commission for nearly three months: a couple weeks to the cold, a solid week of a sinus infection before it’s bad enough they’ll even consider putting me on antibiotics, then two weeks on antibiotics, at which point I’m struggling to control the cough day-to-day, another week to finish clearing the sinus infection, followed by a month or two of dry coughing, trying to get the bronchitis under control.
The past two years, I have been fortunate. I had devised an immediate response plan to minimize the likelihood of the above scenarios from happening again5. As soon as I get that “tickle” in the back of my throat (indicative of post-nasal drip), I immediately start taking pseudoephedrine to prevent any congestion from impairing drainage from my sinuses, and further thin the mucus, reducing the likelihood of establishing an infection up there. From there, I basically drink extra water (on top of my three to four liters a day) to keep things thinned out, and introduce ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory as necessary when the throat/sinus pain (or sinus inflammation) kicks in. I will usually have to deal with some sort of a cough by this point, so coffee helps control small spasm-like coughing fits (when my lungs get that trembling, unstable feeling). As long as I can get to bed without significant coughing, then it’s just extra sleep as necessary to keep my lungs in relatively good shape.
Once the congestion stops, I can phase in diphenhydramine to reduce the frequency & inflammation of my lungs when I am coughing. Once I’m positive I have completely cleared the congestion (usually the antihistamine exacerbates my congestion if it isn’t completely gone), then I can finally lay off the pseudoephedrine, and just maintain the diphenhydramine & ibuprofen until my lungs finally recover.
Today, I initiated the pseudoephedrine and ibuprofen. I typically take 800 mg ibuprofen (a prescription dose) up to four times a day, with hefty 120-mg slow-release pseudoephedrine, or 60-mg regular doses. I started last night on a slow-release before bed with the ibuprofen, and felt a little loopy. I blamed it more on the tiredness than the drugs. Today, however? I took 800 mg ibuprofen at 7:00, 11:00, and 15:00; I have never felt ill effects from ibuprofen before, but I legitimately felt a bit light-headed or loopy. Rather unusual. I was blaming it on the head congestion. At 15:00, I also took a 60-mg regular dose of pseuodoephedrine (now that I picked some up); ten minutes later, I felt like I was literally mentally dragging. Like, taking a step forward to walk, I truly felt like I was dragging my foot behind me. I have never had this feeling before; never once did I experience this last winter. I didn’t honestly think my weight that severely affected my ability to cope with drugs, but wow. Apparently it is having some sort of an effect.
Similarly, I just can’t drink coffee as much as I used to. I can’t stream it into me every time I have a coughing fit, but at the same time, my hopeful (social) coffee breaks are coming fewer and further between, so I’m on a coffee hiatus until I need it (or feel an unusual urge to splurge).
So, point of story: I’m in an all-out battle with some sort of viral upper respiratory infection. There’s my story about why I do what I do because I have to. And I’m learning I might have to tweak my personal dosing; 3/4s body mass ≠ same dosing.
This is going to be one (physical) rollercoaster of a week after another (emotional) rollercoaster of a week. Woof. I’m going to just console myself in copious amounts of chicken noodle soup, methinks…
1I made a resolution about a year ago to not blog about relationships anymore: past, present, nor future. I’m just not comfortable going into that publicly in a setting such as this blog. I would prefer to keep them under wraps, but that means passwords, and passwords mean people asking for passwords, at which point it’s just easier to not put the discussions up here. Not that anyone is really terribly concerned to hear how splendidly, terribly, or boringly they’re going. I’ll reserve that for direct inquiries, if people are so inclined.
2I even made an appointment to see a doctor, in which the woman reprimanded me for being overweight & having moderately high blood pressure, and just told me to take some cold meds, lose some weight, and come in for a full-blown physical. The nurse practitioner I saw three weeks later (in the same clinic) took one look up my nose & told me I should have been on antibiotics a week ago. And so I went onto amoxicillin to slay the resident nasal beast(ies).
3Unless it’s substantial drainage, or it’s from the overnight hours. Those are typically the only times when mucus accumulation has been sufficient to elicit something leaving my lungs with the cough, besides my own precious oxygen.
4Codeine and dextromethorphan (Robitussin™) have no effect once I’m into a coughing fit; the best they can do is reduce the amount of coughing throughout the day, to slow the progression and onset of these coughing fits I’ll get by the afternoon/evening hours. Back during my undergraduate education, a doctor once prescribed me some gel tabs that would burst upon swallowing (so I had to be careful not to pop them in the process before swallowing) and acted like a topical anesthetic in my mid-chest, effectively numbing my bronchioles when I was having these coughing spasms/fits. Best ‘script I ever got for this coughing, but despite my insistence, no one has ever worked to prescribed something similar for me. Since then, I often have to chill the air I breathe—literally, by standing in the cold room at work or walking outside on a porch at home—and drinking copious amounts of cold water at the same time, which has a tendency to overly thin my (already short-supplied) mucus, making the coughing feel even more raw on my upper respiratory tract.
5Between winter of 2007 and winter 2010, I had a sinus infection every winter, if not two. Worst winters of my life, short of having mononucleosis & a S. pyogenes infection at the same time in grade 7. At least I was so tired I don’t remember that month of my life. I vividly recall all the head & chest pain from the winters of ’07–’10.