Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Updated: The PSA Continues

Although I have been vaccinated - even as an adult - and though my kid has all of her vaccines, I admit to feeling very creeped out by the concept. For example, every year I think of getting the flu shot and then I wuss out because the idea of taking a shot of flu - which I've experienced on a few occasions - is too horrible.

For some reason, taking a shot of DTaP (which is abstract and meaningless) seems less concerning. Though I still don't like the idea.

At any rate, if I've never been "pro-vaccine", I'm certainly a person who recognizes the need for vaccinations and has had them.

The reason I hadn't updated my pertussis shot with a booster is simply because I got distracted and busy and I hadn't been to the doc in a while. I read about the resurgence of this "disease" (people, they call it a disease) and thought, hmmm, I should make an appointment with the doc. I'm in that age-range.

And then I got side-tracked.

I desperately wish that I had taken the two hours to get the shot. So far I've missed almost 3 weeks of work never mind that I can barely leave the house (except for medical appts). I'm too tired to cook even the simplest things, though eating well is so important. Having little appetite compounds the challenge. My husband is managing everything right now - including the fucking renovation which still isn't fucking finished (plaster work is on hold till I'm well, fyi, I'm not crazy) - so he scarcely has any additional energy to throw at making healthy meals at the end of the day.  Let's put it this way, M has been making lots of scrambled eggs for dinner.

I never know when a coughing fit will besiege me. I've finally determined, after many fits, that following the trigger cough, though I have exhaled (as is the nature of coughing), if I hold my breath for as long as I can (and this takes massive, conscious effort since I'm weak and panicky anyway), I can minimize the worst of the inspiratory stridor experience. When one's larynx spasms, there is no way to get air into the body until it releases (which it does on its own terms). Trying to inhale is an exercise in futility. At least if I try not to breath, I'm suffocating on my own terms (and shortening the fit). My eyes are pink from breaking blood vessels during the coughing fits. Fortunately, I haven't passed out or broken any bones from the wracking violence.

While I have hours where I merely feel very tired and blah, undoubtedly this is the most acutely sick I have ever been. The doctors assure me that I will recover, that this will not kill me, and since there's much evidence of even young children recovering on a regular basis (and this does kill babies), I have no reason not to believe them. It's just cold comfort as I encounter the worst of this.

Who makes a fucking bug that lasts 2 months-ish and is at its worst just before it gets better? Do you know how tiring it is to be sick like this for so long and then to have to shore up a maximum amount of energy just as you have practically nothing left?

I have renewed respect for, well, just about everything: people who endure chronic illness, the complex joy that is breathing, energy, optimism - and the list goes on.

Please go and ensure that your booster is up to date. Even if you don't much like the idea of vaccines. I assure you that this is thousands of times worse than any creepy feeling you will have when getting the shot.

Update: My oldest/dearest friend, a doctor, came over to visit today and to bring me food/keep me company. Man, she cleared out Whole Foods for me - my fave "food boutique" in the universe - and brought me all kinds of soup, pre-made healthy meals, quick things to eat without effort, and enriched breads (like challa and cranberry loaf). While she was visiting , she did an evaluation, observed the stridor (which hospital docs hadn't seen in action because it comes and goes and they weren't in the room when it happened) and prescribed me a short course of prednisone.

Hil senses that the stridor I have may be compounded by a narrow windpipe (ridiculously, this is a thing that actually runs in my family and, while it's never caused me any problems, it has been a significant and medically managed problem for various family members). I was scheduled yesterday for a laryngoscopy, to check, among other things, the state of swelling in my throat but the doctor was called into emergency surgery and they couldn't tell me when he would next be available. As I was waiting in the hospital, having had no sleep in 36 hrs, shaking from sickness, I opted to leave rather than wait and see. She suspects this is what he would have prescribed.

And of course, I'll be following up with my GP again tomorrow.

Point is, I guess they do prescribe steroids for pertussis under certain extenuating circumstances. This is one of those times I'd be very happy to be in the centre of the normal zone.

PS: Don't scroll down too far on that laryngoscopy link. Holy fuck, that looks incredibly scary. Sometimes it's better not to know what's coming. And maybe I'll be able to avoid it after all.

25 comments:

  1. I'm impressed that you have the energy to write in the midst of your illness. I just have a head cold and I wussed out and called into work sick today. I hope in the midst of your delirium that you do manage to get a flu shot this year. As run down as your body must be right now, the last thing you need is to catch influenza on top of it all.

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    1. I seem energetic in my writing because you can't see me or hear me :-) Actually, I'm trying to talk as little as possible as it tends to bring on episodes. I'd go crazy if I didn't have some kind of communication outlet. In truth, though, it's tough to make my written thoughts cohesive. Another thing I usually take for granted.

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  2. "I have renewed respect for, well, just about everything: people who endure chronic illness, the complex joy that is breathing, energy, optimism - and the list goes on."

    I got really sick a few years ago with gastrointestinal disease and I so relate to your quote. You really don't know how much you take your health for granted until you lose it. I try to remember what it was like not to be able to get up and function, not even minimally, because I was so overcome with illness. Especially when I feel like whining because I don't feel like doing laundry, or cooking another meal, or loading/unloading the dishines, any of those daily menial jobs because I know what it's like to have to depend on someone else to do them. It's just not right what you're going through but I hope that it passes quickly and that you gain a new appreciation for all those daily little things that we so often wish we didn't have to do. Those things that now you hate NOT being able to do. Anyway, sorry about the rambling. Sending healthy thoughts you way! Julia

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    1. That's not rambling. That's just the kind of corroboration I'm looking for! And I hope you are all well now and that you never have to go through an experience like that again.

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  3. Again, that's pretty crazy. There is a reason these diseases had vaccines developed for them. I will be learning from your experience and asking my doctor. I saw in your comments yesterday that someone had a tetnus that had a booster in it. I know I had a tetnus shot about 9 years ago but I don't know if there was anything else with that.

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    1. Yeah, I don't know if the shot in Canada combines them all. And I can't remember who said that (was it Katy?). They may do that in the States but not here. We gotta check.

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    2. I mentioned it in re the US.

      The Canada vacc looks to be the same as the US, and if I'm googling right that version of the tetanus vacc (i.e., with pertussis and diphtheria) was introduced in 2004 in BC and Quebec, and in 2005 in the other provinces.

      (http://www.ncirs.edu.au/news/past-news-events/Day%201/Halperin_Pertussis-control-has-Canada-got-it-right-PertussisWS-24_26Aug11.pdf)

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  4. Oh, wow, that sucks. I'm sorry you're ill!

    Adults (at least adults in the US) who go for a tetanus shot generally get the TDaP by default, unless they know they've already gotten the pertussis booster as an adult. I know that if I didn't regularly want to know that I'm covered for tetanus, I'd never have bothered updating the rest.

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    1. Thanks for this info Lisa. I'm not sure if it's the same in Canada. You know, my husband is older than me and therefore at even more risk and, as far as he knows he hasn't had the booster (yet). But a few years ago he had a tetanus shot. Maybe the reason he hasn't got this is because that shot did provide the boost. I'm very grateful that my daughter has had the vaccine within the regulated time period.

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  5. I'm glad you are sharing this information with other people. I really hope it helps somebody.

    Just a note - it's not possible to get the flu from a flu shot, because it has no live virus (the nasal spray does have a weakened version of the virus). One less reason to fear the flu vaccine?

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    1. Very good info, Kat. I'm not going to fear it anymore.

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    1. Thank you! The symptoms seem to be a bit better since I started on the steroid. Here's hoping it's the beginning of smooth breathing ahead. And I hope your arm is ok.

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  7. Get well soon, that's all I got to say! Get well soon!! :)

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  8. Dear Creative Treasure,

    Please rest, and skip blogging for a day (or two). Focus on feeling the healing. We'll be here when you return.

    From the other side of Lake Erie,

    Testosterone

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    1. Oooh, gotta love being called a creative treasure. :-) And I am resting (except when I go a little crazy for community and then I respond to lovely comments).

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  9. Keep getting well :)

    I need to check what happens with booster here in UK. I know I've had a tetanus booster but nor idea about this.

    xx

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    1. Thanks Suzy. Do check with your doctor.

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  10. I have to weigh in on the need for vaccinations and boosters. They have been developed to help rid us of nasty illnesses. I think with the relative good health of people in North America we can be complacent about vaccinations. This is a false security! We do not want to go back to a time when everyone got measles, mumps, chicken pox and rubella and many people got pertussis and polio and people died of tetinus. The fear of being vaccinated is due to ignorance of the diseases and the mechanism of vaccination. Many vaccines are with killed virus or a part of the organism. You may have some side effects because your immune system is stimulated, but it is not the disease. There are some bad things that can happen from getting shot, but they are extremely rare. I think people that choose not to vaccinate their children are misled and endangering more than themselves.
    OK, I'll get off my soapbox. I hope things are looking better for you soon.

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    1. Thanks for contributing this additional perspective Victoria!

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  11. I hear you about the renewed respect...I had a herniated disc in my lower back for years and just saw the osteo, got myself straightened out and then carried on regardless. Until one day I bent forward to get my toothbrush and ended up on the floor unable to walk and in excruciating pain.
    I scheduled the surgery as soon as I could!
    We do treat our First World health with such careless abandon because we don't see these terrible illnesses on an everyday basis...but this really brings home to me just how fragile it is.
    Hey...you're officially a cautionary tale!
    Seriously, though, I'm glad you've got a lot of support and are coming to the end of this dreadful illness.
    Get well soon.

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    1. Oh Lord, that must have been terrible. How long were you off your feet for? Did you have your babies to take care of at this time?

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  12. Just a thought on my experience with asthma attacks (before I was diagnosed). When one would hit, I could not breathe through my mouth. It would make the spasms worse and then I would panic, which would make the spasms worse and..... Vicious cycle. I found if I covered my mouth with my hand and forced myself to breathe through my nose, the spasm would pass quicker. I also focused on trying to smooth out the inhale - exhale rhythm.

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    1. Thanks for this feedback. Alas, when these fits hit, I can't breathe through either nose or mouth. It's like my windpipe closes. I have tried that way - my sister has bad asthma and has been schooling me in various techniques. Thing is, when your throat closes, there's not much to be done except try not to panic, try not to inhale in a panicked fashion and wait for the spasm to pass. Not optimal. Which is why I really hope the prednisone solves the acute breathing issue. If you think of any other techniques, please don't hesitate to mention them. I'd love it if one of them can work for me!

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