Friday, January 27, 2012

Heavy Breathing

Growing up, I was kind of a high maintenance kid.  Moody and full of stomach aches, I worried endlessly and had a bucket load of allergies.  Looking at my endearing qualities on paper, I wonder how my parents put up with me as well as they did.  I was a good student, so that probably helped.  And I was awfully cute.

 Not really.

Anyway, one of my childhood aggravations was asthma.  Not the gasping for air, call the medic kind, just the “my lungs hurt again, I can’t get a deep breath” sort.  My pediatrician, cutting edge that he was, called it borderline asthma, told my mom to expect symptoms on smoggy days, and sent us on our way.  Since this was all I knew, I didn’t give a second thought to my herculean attempts at deep breath.

Fast forward thirty years and a couple of asthmatic kids later.  My oldest has exercise-induced asthma, and my middle boy has the more traditional daily-inhaler variety.  Between the two of them, we’ve had hospitalizations, pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, croup, asthma attacks, and chest colds galore.  I’ve devoted much time and effort into understanding the warning signs, symptoms, and protocols for anything having to do with lung functioning.  I own a stethoscope, a peak flow monitor, and two nebulizer machines; and my neighbor has an oximeter, should I ever need to measure oxygen levels.  I’m extreme, I know.  But in my defense, 3 hospital stays under the age of 2 is enough to make any nervous mom hypervigilant.

I’ve gone soft, however.  As my boys’ asthma has become more predictable, I’ve realized that I’m no longer on top of my a-game (a=asthma).  So when I started feeling those old familiar lung pains in the morning and caught myself bracing the chair to try and get a satisfying deep breath, I began to worry about what was surely an impending asthma attack.  And after a year of doing intense cardio weekly, I had my first experience with extreme shortness of breath.  It was alarming, and put together with the other symptoms, I promptly diagnosed it to be the re-emergence of my childhood asthma.

I knew I was going to need an official diagnosis if I was going to get myself fixed, so I waited until I was good and sick before I made my way to the asthma doc.  Looking forward to the end of my lung annoyances, I went into that PFT test intending to do my feeble best.  I blew with all my might, spurred on by the assistant’s, “Keep blowing!  Keeping blowing! Keep blowing!”  And wouldn’t you know it?  My lung volume came back at 125%.  Not sure how a value over 100% is possible, but directionally speaking, I was in marathon shape.  The look on my doctor’s face said, “you, my dear, are a big hypochondriac” even though her words said, “I don’t see anything to worry about.”

Perhaps out of pity, she sent me home with an inhaler.  Over the next day, my cold progressed to a cough, and my lungs seemed very unhappy.  The cough sounded odd, so I went online to see what I could find out.  And that’s how I came across this site (  Can I tell you how much I love the internet?  Specifically for this reason.  How awesome is it to be able to turn on your computer and use a sound byte to diagnose yourself?

And there it was…my cough.  The one with the wheezing.  That cinched it for me.  I got out that inhaler and gave it a try.  After choking on the first attempt, I tried again.  It took about 10 minutes to feel my lungs calm down, and I got a headache from it, but after days of not being able to get a satisfying deep breath, I was breathing like the best of them.  Hypochondriac or not, I felt better.  Even the tickle that seemed to spontaneously force the coughs out of me dropped from every few seconds to every few minutes.  Sweet relief.

For all I know, she gave me a placebo, and I inhaled a big old puff of saline mist.  I don’t care.  It’s magic saline mist.

After hearing my cough in that sound byte and seeing improvement with the inhaler, I shifted my search to “cough with wheezing.”  Hoping to find more information on my noisy cough, I found this clip on youtube.  Alarming and hilarious at the same time, I post it, for your enjoyment.  Presumably, she is doing fine.


Bigger than Average Mom said...

My doctor told me I have post nasal drip, when I walked in with all those symptoms. PND my arse! And I'm NOT a hypochondriac.

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

1. Those old pictures are funny. Man, mom's old sofa looks like a frat house reject.

2. Your cryface looks like L.

3. That video really picks up at :39 seconds.

4. Since when do you do "intense cardio"......?

NumberWhisperer said...

@BTAM Next time you're in town, let's go have smoothies until the asthma kicks in and I'll let you try out my inhaler. :)

@Gun thanks for ratting me out. Doesn't zumba count as intense?