Saturday, 27 September 2008

Asthma saga

This blog entry is going to be long so I’m going to do it in two sections. First of all my news from last weekend - it’s taken me this long to write it all because it’s a long story, lol And probably quite boring. But here goes anyway.

Since having the asthma attack a few weeks ago I’d been fairly ok. The week I was on anti-biotics and steroids I was fine, and the week after I was ok as well. In fact I was convinced I didn’t have asthma at all and it had just been a chest infection. I was waiting for the practise nurse (from the GP surgery rather than one who isn’t a proper nurse, lol) to ring me to make an appointment for a spyrometry test but wasn’t too worried by the fact she still hadn’t.

Then I had a bad weekend where I needed to use my inhaler 6 times but wasn’t too worried as it worked. However, on the Sunday night one of the kittens was climbing on me and that set me off, but again, the inhaler settled things down.

During the week I needed my inhaler a couple more times but only for very mild breathing problems.

On Friday morning I woke up when Craig’s alarm went off at 5.20am and was really wheezing and having trouble breathing. Despite using my inhaler I was still having problems breathing so used my inhaler every couple of hours all day until about 5 when I was having to use it hourly.

By about 10 it was getting really bad so I rang NHS direct and they advised me to double the inhaler dosage and if that didn't last for 3 hours to double it again. And if that didn't last for 3 hours I was to go to hospital. Well, it didn't work so off we went to A&E where they gave me nebulisers and a steroid injection. It didn't help so they gave me another neb.

By 3am I was so tired that I just wanted to go home and sleep (I was in a cubicle with one chair so Craig had to stand) and I felt really faint and ill. I wasn't breathing very well but as I say was soooo tired I couldn't think of anything other than sleep. They sent me home and I was asleep by 3.30am but at 5.30 woke up still not being able to breathe properly so used the inhaler again, at 6.30 I had to use it again and by 8 knew I was going to have to go back to A&E.

Off I went and was given nebs and steroids again. Breathing improved a bit and then they wanted to do a blood test that involved putting a big needle into my arm and into my artery. The doc told me it would be unpleasant and painful so I declined. They discharged me and I went round to the hospital pharmacy to collect the prescription they had given me. Before it had been handed over I was having even more problems breathing and I was getting really worried (not helped by a friend having told me that a friend of theirs had lived opposite his local hospital and had had a massive asthma attack and still didn’t get there in time and had died).

I was convinced I was going to collapse in the hospital grounds but managed to get back to A&E where there was a queue. I honestly didn’t think I’d last until I got to the front of the queue but luckily I did and the Dr I had just seen was behind the reception desk so got me straight back in. He gave me more nebs and oxygen and I said I would have the test - I lay on the bed waiting for it to start hurting and then he said “ok, all done”. I didn’t feel anything other than the needle going into my arm initially. What a fuss I made about nothing!!!! If I ever need to have it done again I will, and I’ll make sure it’s the same Doctor. I did wonder if he had just done a normal blood test but I now have a massive bruise up my arm to show he did do the artery test.

When the results came back as showing that everything was ok he asked me if I wanted to go home or be admitted. I wanted to stay in - I really didn’t want to go home only to end up back there a few hours later and he said he was pleased as he didn’t want to discharge me either but it had to be my choice.

I was taken up to the Clinical Decisions Unit and given 24 hour oxygen and 4 hourly nebulisers which helped. The following day I was hoping to be told I could go home but they wanted me in for another 24 hours in case I had a relapse.

I hated being in hospital - there was no rest the first night. They didn’t turn the ward lights off until after midnight because the nurses were still doing their rounds and at 1am and 4am Drs came round to talk to other patients - and because they were hard of hearing they had to shout and disturbed the rest of us. Then they decided it was time to wake us up before 7am.

While I was waiting for Craig to bring some things in for me so I could have a shower (the one plus point of the whole thing - our shower has been broken for weeks so I was looking forward to using the one on the ward) a head popped round my curtain to ask if I needed help having a wash. I said I was ok and just waiting for my husband so I could have a shower. “Are you sure?” Yes, I was quite sure. I had to laugh - it was one of the nurses and he was a big bloke with a bald head and tattoos up his arm.

Later on the Sunday I was moved up to another ward on the eighth floor. It was a much quieter and nicer ward to be on and had amazing views over my part of Lincolnshire. We live about 10 minutes drive from the hospital and can see it from the front of our house. And from my window when it was clear I could just about make out my house which was really exciting for me. I know, a little bit sad, but still. Craig brought binoculars in to me but the following day it was too misty to be able to see anything which was a shame.

On the Monday afternoon I was so tired I had a sleep which was disturbed by someone’s visitors arriving loudly. Getting themselves chairs loudly and then sitting chatting loudly. If you’re ever visiting anyone in hospital please consider the other patients on the ward!!!!

I got to see the asthma nurse which was really helpful. They took some blood to test to see what I’m allergic to (they took a lot of my blood over the weekend, lol. I have now got over my needle phobia I think!!) and she did the spyrometery test which I did really well on - my lung capacity is above where they would expect it to be. I have a peak flow meter to check my breathing - at the moment it’s registering around 500 whatever-they-measure-it-in which makes the 100-150 I was getting on Saturday quite scary.

I finished my course of steroids and anti-biotics on Thursday so am half expecting to have a good week then go downhill again by next weekend, but they also gave me a preventer inhaler which I use twice daily so hopefully that will keep me breathing ok and I won’t have another attack.

As the asthma nurse thought it was probably the cats that have caused the problem we have rehomed one of the kittens and are looking for a home for the other two - albeit reluctantly. What if it’s not the cats? If the blood tests show that it is then they will definitely be going.

So that was my excitement for last weekend. This weekend is proving to be far more quiet and relaxed. Ellie did her second 11+ test today (her first was last week) and Jack and Alfie went to a Thomas the Tank Engine Storytime at our local Waterstones which they really enjoyed.

I did manage to get a load of knitting done last weekend (well, there wasn’t much else to do stuck in the hospital) but haven’t managed to pick it up since. But I should have the jumper finished in a couple of weeks and then I can start making something for the new baby.

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