Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Focusing on Breathing for the Breathless

So I went to yoga class today with a friend at the campus rec(reation) center. The style of yoga we do at the rec is a faster flowing style. It is not super intense but not one of the really slow flowing ones either(I always forget the name of the style not that I can spell it anyway). As we were warming up focusing on our breathing I really noticed how many more breaths per minute I took than my friend; yes I know yoga is supposed to be introspective. I was feeling really good today, and she is coming down with something. I have over all had a really nice green run of things as of late. I've been consistently hitting above 90%; hit a 103% first thing one morning this week. I'm blaming this spike in peak flows on getting away from the pollution back home and heading to the cleaner country air where I go to school.

Yoga really makes me realize how tight and breathless I am all the time. I'm feeling good and getting good pf's and fev1's and yet I could really feel my chest being kind of tight and weird(yes I did premedicate). Focusing on my breathing does help me with getting all the air out (yay not air trapping), and definitely does relax me (and my airways... win 111% post workout). Thus far no post workout delayed flaring even though no post medication. This conscious manipulation makes me wonder if/how much of this asthma stuff is in my head. I mean I can definitely tell you that I have more asthma attacks when I am stressed, but I highly doubt there is an asthmatic out there who breathes better when they are stressed.

The other challenging thing that comes with yoga is that since I have a quicker respitory cycle than the average person, I end up either holding my breath to keep time with the class on the first few reps of pose to keep pace with the inhale and do .... exhale and do .... or getting my breaths completely out of sync with the pattern. When I try to keep my breaths going with the rythm it is kind of challenging since then I have to keep pretty brisk pace in the poses to keep up with my breathing. Alas, unless I'm feeling strong and have been keeping up with yoga regularly I generally just let the breathing rhythm fall out of sync from my poses.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to School

I moved back to school on Tuesday(8/24). Life has been a whirlwind of activity since then(hence the lack of updates here, and on my 365). Right now I've got a break between classes before I head back home to work for the weekend. The lungs have been behaving surprising well considering that I have been moving my stuff around quite a bit and didn't think to premedicate for moving in and rearranging furniture. Okay so I did take a few hits of ventolin, nothing major. I'm pretty sure the Astepro is really helping with the allergies which were causing asthma issues. However, it has given me quite a bit of upset stomach issues which is not helpful. It could also be the cafeteria food to blame as I adjust to getting back to the delicacies served by campus food service.
I don't really look like this at all when I'm studying.
I still live in a traditional residence hall(newly refurbished with A/C and new matresses, yay lack of dust!), even though I'm a senior. Thus I have a roommate, I got assigned one by ResLife because I was going to have a single but then ResLife canceled all the singles and moved people around. As far as roommates being randomly assigned she's pretty cool. However, it's a bit intimidating for me, she's in the army and very tomboy. I'm just not sure how to relate to her. Which brings me to this dilemma as to taking my meds. For some reason, I get inhaler shy in front of her. I just can't seem to do it right in front of her. Which is really weird since I can take meds in front of a whole train full of people I don't know. Hopefully I'll be able to get over this sooner rather than later.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wait and See

I payed Dr. B a visit today and on the upshot I've got some time off for good behavior. I'm not due back until December unless I've got troubles which is good. He somewhat approves of my decreased use of ventolin. I've slashed it down by almost half. I'm still not without symptoms which isn't so good. Apparently the blue (ie 160/4.5 Symbicort is here to stay). Which is fine by me.
Pop Quiz: Guess what this organic structure is! (Mentioned in next sentence)
Just incase I needed another thing to add to the basket-o-meds we are trying out Astepro(azelastine) for a month and see how that goes. As of yet it's definitely deconguested me quite well, which is weird since it's an antihistamine nasal spray. However, I've also had a tummy ache all day since I took it. Possibly related to the artificial sweetener in the spray or possibly completely unrelated. I normally get tummy aches from artificial sweeteners. I didn't realise how congested I am until I got promptly decongested. However, this begs the question, how much is clear breathing worth?

I'm not quite sure where to draw the line and how many meds I'm wiling to be on before I say enough is enough and just put up with feeling slightly worse for a few less meds. Quite honestly I hate taking all this stuff. I don't want to have to think before I leave the house... did I grab my peak flow meter, spacer, ventolin, epipen, benadryl? Am I going to be gone long enough to take symbicort with me? Yes I feel better than I did before all the drugs. However, I don't feel that much better. Hopefully, the allergy shots will kick in or my lungs will decide they like me again or something.
/end rant/

Overall I'd call this visit to the allergist a success. I'm not as frustrated as above digression might seem. I'd like to see less of my ventolin but I understand Dr. B's point that by the numbers I am 'controlled' since the spirometry I did today showed no significant changes indicating inflammation or decreased lung function(yay!). However, I'm not asymptomatic. This is a frustrating place to be. It somewhat makes me question if it's all in my head.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Am I an Odd Duck?

You may be asking: "Why a red bell pepper?" My answer: "Why not?"
Okay, so yes I am an odd duck. The question is more if I am one within the asthma blogosphere. I feel slightly out of place as my asthma isn't as bad as many of the others around the net. I hover somewhere between controlled and not controlled. As of late more controlled than not controlled but still definitely not where I'd like to be. Based on what I can gather I'm a mild persistent asthmatic. I haven't officially been dubbed this by the doctor or anything. I might be considered moderate by my rescue inhaler usage. However, that is also probably partially the lack of control I've got at this point. I also know that I've got strong lungs from all the swimming I've done for years now. I know I've got really good lung capacity. Which could also skew the results of the PFT I had to do a month or so ago as far as predicted values. I know ultimately the label isn't everything and there is nothing to be lost from having good lung capacity. However, everything spirometry comes back normal, which makes me second guess whether or not I really have asthma. All these things have been spinning around in my head as I contemplate my appointment with Dr. B(the allergist) on Friday. Where I will probably end up on more meds to try to wrangle my lungs into submission. I just kinda wonder where I really fit in category wise and what that means for the med cocktail.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walking "The Walk"

My Number & Finisher's Medal
So Saturday(8/14) was "The Walk" in a local park. It was a 5k walk to support depression awareness and a number of local agencies. I did it with a friend. We kept a decent pace and finished right around 55 minutes. Which I don't feel too bad about considering it is hot and muggy outside. An the air quality has been iffy at best.  Granted right after the walk I hit my bed and slept for a good 5 hours. I was pretty well worn out.
I did find the energy to go to the Third Day concert at Six Flags that evening. Where I got questioned by the lady in the seat next to me. (I pulled out the jedInhaler and my AC for some broncodialation so that I could jump around). She asks me "Do you have asthma?"-Yup. "Has it been bad this year?"-Umm yeah have you seen how many air quality warnings we have had?!?! Thankfully after that the concert started so I didn't have to play 20 questions any more.
I've also been full of mucus as of late. It has pretty much been coming down the back of my throat into my lungs and ears. It's also been coming out my nose. I haven't looked to see what is in bloom/out there that is setting my allergies off but I'm getting pretty tired of being mucus city.  I've also definitely been slouching forward a lot to make it easier to breathe. The Symbicort 160/4.5 is helping somewhat... I'm down to about 2 puffs/day of Ventolin. I still seem to bottom out at some point in the late afternoon/evening. Either that or I feel good and go exercise and get all short of breath. If this is as good as it gets I can live with it. I'm hoping there is something more that can be done(we'll see what Dr. B says when I see him on Friday).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Histamine Saga

So first of all no I didn't fall off the face of the earth or the blogosphere for that matter. Work just ate my life (C'est la vie de l'heures supplĂ©mentaires). It dawned upon my sleep deprived mind at somepoint over the last week that I hadn't yet written about my diagnosis saga. I don't know that story really adequately covers it since it stretches over about a year and a quarter. 
Once upon a time in a land far far away(or perhaps right around the corner ... it's all relative).... I was coughing and coughing and coughing and oh yeah coughing. I would get way out of breath just from coming up and down the stairs. I'm pretty sure I had pulled pretty much every muscle involved in breathing/coughing. My friends decided it was time to strong arm me into going to the health center. Such a nice thing of them to do right at valentines day('09). I go there and cough on K, one of the nurse practicioners. She is super nice listens to my lungs and list of complaints. She decides it's probably a little worse with the allergies or one of the bugs that is circulating campus. I leave with a script for Tessalon Perles and an antibiotic(just incase it moves in and gives me a sinus infection since it's right before spring break, never did fill that half). Those little things settle the coughing down quite a bit for a few hours after each one. 
Fast forward, two-three weeks, now Mid-March, I'm still coughing and out of Perles. Friends again shove me towards the Health Center to go cough on them, again. My lungs apparently sound a little off to K. She gives me a script for albuterol, as well as starting me back up on allegra. She is firm that it is just allergies that are triggering some sensitivity in my lungs possibly a 'mildly asthmatic' type response. I am given strict instructions that if I am using the albuterol more than a few times a week I should come back to get something stronger. She tells me this probably won't happen (ha!).
Fast forward to early April, yet another trip to the health center to follow up. This time I apparently sound "distant" when one of the other nurse practitioners, D listened to my lungs. This is suprising since they have made me blow on a PFM and I hit 460(75% of current PB) which is way above the 'normal' value for my height/age.  After a few raised eyebrows and trying to figure it out. I got a script for Symbicort 80/4.5. There was no diagnosis really at this point just a well we'll try this. Somewhere around here was when the Aerochamber came into my life, which is good since coordination and motor control are not some of my strong points(that's a whole other post). 
The Symbicort/Allegra combo really did the trick for me and got me to the point where I could actually breathe and feel better. I went to my (new) doctor  in May having graduated from the pediatrician's office(finally!). She was somewhat puzzled by my lungs and such and wanted to try to taper me off of symbicort to see if it was really needed to get me through the day everyday or just to get me through a rough patch. She was thinking more just that I'd had a bad allergy flare.  Summer came and went with a bunch of  puffs on the albuterol on bad air quality days but otherwise uneventfully. 
Fall I managed to taper down and off the Symbicort completely, which lasted from early/mid October all the way through mid January. March landed me in the student health center for a nice course of prednisone, really I should've gone to the ER over that weekend but I'm stubborn.
May came and Dr. Z(GP) thought that perhaps it was time to send me off to an allergist since clearly I'm not outgrowing this stuff and I'm sick of being itchy and such all the time. I got in for an appointment with Dr. B in mid June. He made me do PFT and decided that I do have asthma (finally!). Okay so I kind of knew I had it but they hadn't really say as much they were just kinda like oh well let's treat you with this stuff and see what happens.