A Fistful of Pharma

About three weeks ago my son came home from Thailand for a week. The last time he came I ended up in the hospital with life-threatening, utterly improbable pulmonary embolisms. This time I woke up with a massively sore throat.

Being a sports fan, when not visiting his friends, my son wanted to do little more than hang out and watch sports on TV. Conveniently the Nationals were on their march to a World Series title. My son is the master of timing.

The sore throat went away in a day but the accompanying cold lingered for over a week. I felt pretty good until two nights ago when the sore throat returned. Last night it woke me at 2 a.m. It was accompanied by a cough that brought up strange and nasty things from my lungs. I was up most of the night gargling and coughing and blowing my nose.

I suppose my son got his timing thing from me. Today I had a check up with my pulmonologist. I’ve been seeing her since she crashed my PE party at the emergency room.

The primary purpose of the visit was to see how much blow power my asthmatic lungs have. The test involved blowing into a tube that records how much air you can expel until your lungs are completely empty. The test is repeated three times.

I hadn’t been tested in over a year and, despite my cold, I easily bested my last test. Each effort made my head spin. I groggily moved to an examination room when my pulmonologist entered. She put on a mask. She was sick too!

Same thing. She checked my breathing and asked about my use of a rescue inhaler over the last three months. My breathing, despite my cold, was free of the raspy crackle that asthmatics have. I hadn’t used my rescue inhaler once.

Then she asked me about my cold. She examined my nose and throat and gave me a four-step program for survival. One of my tonsils had white spots on it.

  • Take Afrin to dilate my sinuses.
  • Add Sudafed, those little red decongestants, during the day to dry up my sinuses.
  • Toss in some Mucinex, an expectorant, to break up the junk in my lungs. (Don’t buy the kind with a cough suppressant.)
  • Finally, at my option, take an antibiotic.

She actually advised me to wait a day or two on the antibiotic to see if the first three medicines work. It could be that the source of my misery is a virus making the antibiotic unnecessary.

Well, why wait? I’ve been sick for two weeks. I haven’t had an antibiotic for 2 1/2 years. So I decided not to wait.

Within an hour I was feeling much better. By coincidence, I had decided to take today off the bike anyway. I canceled a visit to the gym in favor of a nap. The Sudafed as most athletes and college students know is a stimulant. My nap was less than successful but lying on the coach for a couple of hours with open airways was a treat anyway.

In a minute I’ll start doing my PT exercises. I went to the therapist yesterday thinking I had made great progress. She tested my muscle strength in my hips and butt. Long story short I still have work to do.

Hopefully I’ll be able to breath while doing it.

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