Monday, August 31, 2009

Becoming Stable Enough to Stay Out of the Hospital

Between 1986 and 1996 I was hospitalized for asthma/status asthmaticus 16 times and was intubated 4 times (the longest being 4 days in January 1995).

1992- 1998-- I worked in the fashion industry in Miami, and had several hospitalizations. So I went to school to study art education, worked in a high school and ended up having to be hospitalized before what should have been an outpatient knee surgery, because of my bad pulmonary function. I was working out with weights and running. Peak flows between 150 and 350.

1998--2005--As exposures to bad air and sick people while working appeared to continue to put me in the hospital, I went on disability and worked part time in a nursery and volunteered at a botanical center seed bank. I continued to work out and run. I had a sinus surgery in 2004 (deviated septum, polyps and overgrowth of tissue removed), and saw much improvement with that --I could breathe through my nose after years of total sinus congestion and breathing only through my mouth. Peak flows between 200 and 300.

2005-- 2007--I moved to Dunnellon, FL and continued to see my Miami doctors, while
seeing a naturopath/acupuncturist in Micanopy, my condition had become slowly worse over the years, but less extreme in my good and bad moments. I was still running and working out with weights. Peak flows between 150 and 300.

2008--I saw a new doctor in Ocala and built an earth sheltered house that I spent 5 months installing all the floor tile in. I was no longer able to run, but used the treadmill and stair machine. The doctor in Ocala advised me to increase my Advair, which had stopped helping me, so when I increased it, I became worse. During the winter of 2008, I was on multiple periods of prednisone and many nebulizer treatments. I tried using a Chinese COPD treatment for 6 weeks--no noticable improvement, and tried Yamoa root, with no noticable improvement--perhaps both kept me more stable than I would have been. Peak flows around 200.

January-August 2009--I am back to seeing my Miami Doctors and with the help of Symbicort, I am able to run again. I began taking serrapeptase in June and noticed an improvement in my fibrous breast lumps and carpel tunnel. I suffered several sinus infections after being around others with colds. My peak flows range from 200-300 --usually at the low end. I can run when I am 250 or higher, though not for an extended period.

I feel like I am at the the very brink of what my body can endure, as far as compensating for my injured lungs. I can get by when I am very careful about exercise, what I eat, drink and take as meds, get enough rest and minimize my exposure to irritants; however, if I neglect even one thing, I go down like a house of cards. My naturopath/acupuncturist is trying to get my body stronger and more able to deal with daily insults, but it is a long and arduous road. I am often extremely fatigued, and totally wiped out after a workout or even a normal day (w/o a nap). Since I have been dealing with this for so long, it would be expected to take quite some time to reverse. I am trying to focus on the small improvements and the fact that I can run again (however limited).

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Beginning of the Problem

This is what I did up until my first symptoms in 1985:

May 1964--June 1982-- I grew up in Northern VA. with no history of asthma in my family.
(Although my maternal grandmother had an undiagnosed bloody cough and died prematurely due to breast cancer brought on by multiple chest x-rays in a failed attempt to diagnose.) My bedroom those 18 years was very cold and damp, but I had no breathing symptoms. In 1980 I had a very severe sinus infection after flying to LA. From then on I had periodic sinus infections that would invariably affect my lungs later. I began working out that same year; running on average 12 miles per week and working out with weights.

June 1982-March 1983--I moved to Key Largo, FL from Northern VA. I worked as an animal caretaker for dolphins, dogs and exotic birds. I was exposed to periodic sprays of anti-mosquito chemical while in the Keys. I continued to run.

March 1983-June 1983--I worked at the Ocean Reef Club for Comprehensive Yacht Services.
I cleaned yachts (interior and exterior)--I was exposed to varnishes, but primarily cleaning fluids in non-ventilated spaces. I continued to get mosquito sprayed. I was still running.

June 1983-August 1983--I worked as dancer in The Lost Colony, Outer Banks, NC. I was running and working out with weights again.

September 1983-August 1984--I worked in Miami for Kadey Krogen Yachts. I began by cleaning boat interiors, then I picked up and delivered parts for yacht commissioning. I spent much time around boat yards where bottom coating, varnishing, and other painting occurred.
I continued to run.

August 1984-May 1986--I moved to Key West, FL. First I worked outdoors selling snorkel tour tickets, then I worked indoors at a gym, while I attended FKCC and studied Marine biology. My first symptom of breathing problem was noticed after running a road race in October 1985--it felt like a sore throat was developing that turned into a cough that would later be aggravated after running. I was working out with weights, doing Taekwondo and running.

March 1986--My symptoms worsen to noticeable wheezing. I went to South Miami Hospital, where I was diagnosed with asthma and given inhalers and theophyline.

June 1986-August 1986--I traveled to CA camping across the US. I had horrible coughing at night and trouble running as soon as I got to the dry air of the Midwest and more trouble when I got to the damp, cool air of the San Francisco. I reached my lowest body weight (115), and had uncontrollable coughing especially in the morning and evening.

August 1986- May 1992--I moved to Richmond, VA and attended school at VCU, where I studied fashion and then operated a mail order clothing business. I had many hospitalizations during the cold seasons and trouble breathing around chemicals involved with a printmaking course. My peak flows would range between 100 and 400. From my initial hospitalizations, I was in respiratory failure and had to talk my way out of being intubated. Then in November 1989, I lost consciousness before I could get to the hospital and was intubated for just over 24 hours. I continued to work out and run when my peak flow allowed (I am able to run when I am 250 or better). During this period, I was prescribed about every conventional asthma medication available. I would often notice some relief for a period of time and then slowly get worse. This was even more pronounced with the sinus medications. When I would be at the tail end of a medication's useful life, I would have to use prednisone and nebulizer treatments. I would be told by my conventional doctors that I had to live with this condition, it was not curable. I do not hold that belief to be true. And I have been searching high and low for a solution to my problem.