Friday, April 7, 2017

Some things I've learned about this asthma of mine

As I might have mentioned before, last Friday was an eye opening kind of day for me.  I learned so much in that little doctor's visit of mine.  I also came to the realization that I really do have asthma.  I didn't really believe it but now I really do.  So, Friday the doctor called in a new prescription medication for me to use.  She said the new medication might require prior authorization from my insurance company so she gave me some samples to use until all of that went through.  As soon as I got home I pulled the new medicine out of the box and tried it.  I kid you not!  It was like day and night.  I could finally breathe.  That night I got the best night sleep I have had in a very long time.  I couldn't believe it!  I could actually function again and I finally felt so much better.  Here are a few things I've learned about this asthma of mine.........

Ten things I did this past weekend since I was put on my new medication:

1.  I could finally stand and do all the dishes at the sink and I didn't have to take a break in between!  (that's huge!)

2.  I got the first good nights sleep I've had in a very long time, and I actually dreamed.

3.  I could actually cook a meal and not have to ask Lexi to help because I needed a break in the middle.

4.  I could stay in the steamy bathroom after a hot shower and I could actually breathe.

5.  I actually got cold with and without the cool mist humidifier on.

6.  I could sit in the hot car and the heat didn't bother me.  I wasn't gasping for air.

7.  The dark circles under my eyes, that I thought were caused by my thyroid issues, are actually because of my asthma - they are finally going away!  How cool is that?

8.  I can walk down to the end of my street (to the stop sign) and I don't have to rest before coming back home.  

9.  I don't have to sleep propped up any more.

10.  Wearing a bra doesn't make me feel like I'm suffocating anymore!

Nine people who I can not thank enough for their almost daily continual watchful care:

1.  Kevin
2.  Lexi
3.  Curtis
4.  Kyle
5.  Danielle
6.  My Dad
7.  My Mom
8.  My Doctor and his entire staff
9.  My Heavenly Father, of course, and certainly NEVER last.
Eight things I have missed or missed doing:

1.  My girls and I use to go for these nice long walks in the evenings.  We would leave our house, walk past the school, then past the church, and return home from there.  I miss having the ability to walk that length.  It's going to take me some time to work back up to that again, but I look forward to it.

2.  Sleeping on my back.  I had no idea just how much sleeping propped up was preventing me from getting a good night sleep.  I just recently realized how much I was missing.  

3.  My co-workers!  I enjoy spending time talking with them between calls and learning about their lives and families and I've really missed them.  They make work fun and worthwhile.  I have awesome co-workers!

4.  Having the strength to do the things I want to do around my home.  For so long I haven't felt well.  All this time I thought it was my age and weight causing all the problems.  Sure, my weight has a little bit to do with it and age too, but since I was given this new medication last Friday I can finally breathe and I have energy again.  How cool is that?

5.  Spending some girl time with just Lexi and I.  We haven't done that in a while mostly because I was just too darn tired all the time. 

6.  Being active in my ward.  Sure, we go to church, but it's been a while since I've felt like getting involved and not like an outsider, which has totally been my own fault and I blame my asthma for this somewhat too.

7.  Cleaning my house and doing things the way I want things done.  Sure, I appreciate all the help that Kevin and the kids have given me as they have worked to keep things about 90% clean all the time, it's just nice to feel like I am able to do my part as well.

8.  Cooking for my family.  Again because I was so worn out all the time, it was easier to do something quick and easy.  It's nice to feel like I can actually prepare a simple meal without getting winded and having to take a break during the preparations. 
Seven things that I have learned through this experience.

1.  You know, a few years ago when I was diagnosed with asthma, and since that day, I didn't fully believe I had a breathing problem.  In fact, I was certain it was mis-diagnosed.  Not any more.  I now know just how much I was suffering.  To be quite honest, I cannot believe all that I did accomplish with my severe and poorly controlled (doctor's words here, not mine) asthma.  I was able to see Kevin through his last three surgeries and all of his hospital stays since.  I was able to plan and prepare my daughter's wedding reception and make pretty much everything myself.  (I now know why I would get so darn tired and worn out doing all of that.)  I was able to work and care for my family the best I could while being the "primary" parent.  AND I was able to contact our friends helping us back east when locals refused and turned us away.  All of this I did while suffering and not even knowing how bad off my asthma was.  I am tougher than I ever dreamed and I can do hard things!  That's right, I said it.  And I can still smile and laugh.  I can do hard things....even harder things than I ever thought possible.

2.  I have learned to appreciate little things like a text message or a call from someone asking how I am doing with all that has happened to our family and my health.  I cannot get over the countless text and calls received by those that have gone above and beyond to help me (us) even when they themselves are doing so much for so many already.  Yet, they always ask what more they can do for us.  Simply amazing.  I have been so darned blessed with great friends and loved ones!

3.  I have learned that people are incredible.  I'm still in shock that a friend of mine took the time to reach out to me right as she was learning about her own trial, that I feel is so much larger than mine,....breast cancer, and all that that brings!  You know, countless doctor's visits, pre-op testing, surgeries, and chemo.  Or our dear friends from another ward we use to be in who suffers from a spinal cord injury and he and his wife have offered to help us in any way they can.  Or the countless notes, cards, messages, and surprise visits.  It's been incredible!  People care.  I can't even list all of the people who have told me that they've been praying for me every day, or for my husband!  That is very humbling! 

4.  I have learned, and I say this with tears in my eyes, what it means to promise, "in sickness and in health."  Kevin may be confined to a wheelchair, but he has been more incredible than I could have ever wished, prayed, or hoped for.  He is amazing!  I love him more and more each day because of his love for me.  Over the recent past I have been reminded of all of those examples in my life that have truly personified the meaning of in sickness and in health.  Even though one set of my grandparents lived in another state, I will always remember just how well my Grandmother took care of my Grandfather who lost both of his legs and was confined to a wheelchair.  My Grandmother was amazing!  In turn, I also watched my Grandfather care for my Grandmother through surgeries to remove both of her breasts after breast cancer.  Equally as amazing was the care my father has provided to my mother countless times before, during, and after major surgeries.  My Dad pushed doctors just days after diagnosing my mother's breast cancer to act fast on a rapidly growing cancer.  He literally saved my mother's life!  Then to do the same thing when my mother had emergency surgery to remove a portion of her intestines.  The doctor left a bowling ball sized hole in her gut.  My mother actually looked like a cartoon character with the bowling ball sized hole in them.  My Dad planned and prepared for home health to come in and change the dressing on my mother's wound while she was a little loopy on all the medications she was taking.  He took care of everything and saved my mother's life again.  My Mom has taken care of my Dad in the same way on a daily basis from the time they got married over fifty years ago by cooking an cleaning and making sure my Dad has what he needs.  Then I have watched my mother-in-law care for her sweet husband and do everything she possibly could after he received a diagnosis of liver cancer and was given only a short time to live.  I know it could not have been easy to put aside her suffering (I cannot even imagine!) to make sure he was kept as comfortable as humanly possible during his last days on this earth.  I have been blessed with incredible examples throughout my life of what it really means to be a spouse and I love and appreciate all of these examples in my life.  They have strengthened me in more ways than I can count.

5.  I have learned about trusting in the Lord's timing.  I didn't ask for all of these challenges.  I have not liked these challenges.  BUT.  I love that my Heavenly Father has given me this challenge because it has opened my eyes to some things that I had never noticed before.  I won't share them here on my blog, but suffice it to say, I feel like a different person inside as a result of them.  

6.  I have learned that there is such a thing as too much Pretty in Pink from Fiiz.  (Have you been to that place?) I love that drink and because I know it is a total temptation, I avoid it completely!  I am learning to stir clear of things that will keep me from reaching my goals.  I actually crave water a lot now.  I'm working towards a much healthier outlook kind of thing.  Now, if I feel the need to have a fizzy drink I turn to something like Sprite Zero.  Keeps me from blowing my daily goals completely.  Loooove it.

7.  I have learned that there is something very powerful (of course, I already knew this, but it's been strongly reinforced) about the power of prayer.  I've prayed a lot this past month.  I've always prayed.  I pray every single day, many times a day.  But, my prayers are different now.  Deeper even.  More meaningful and I have felt carried through a lot of these experiences and have been so grateful for that sweet spirit to lift me up and also knowing that not only were my prayers being answered in so many ways like the sacrifice and service of others, but also through the way my body has responded to the treatment and medications, through the love I've felt from my Savior, and through the prayers of others that have been felt over and over again!  (This was supposed to be a light post, but I had to express this.)

Six things I have watched or listened to while I recouped:

1.  Listened to the audio book, The Shake.  (I loved the story about the father and his change of heart, but I couldn't get past the way God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost were portrayed.  It just didn't sit well with me.  That was a disappointment for me.)
2.  old episodes of Madam Secretary
3.  Grace and Frankie (It's funny, but a lot of swearing and not everyone will watch it since Jane Fonda is in it.)
4.  Bull
5.  NCIS
6.  Scandal (both current episodes and past episodes)

Five things that I have loved about being being under my doctor's care that is somehow different this time:

1.  That my doctor really listened to me and didn't just throw a bunch of medications at me right away.
2.  She made sure I knew she was going to get to the bottom of the problem one way or another.
3.  She scheduled tests and quickly got the results to me right away.
4.  She made sure I knew that she would monitor my progress and retest me in three and six months to make sure I was still on track.
5.  She made sure I had samples of my new medication because she knew the insurance would need to provide prior authorization for it.  Thank you!

Four random acts of kindness that have really meant a lot to me through this:

1.  My children stepping up to help out with their father and with the house without me even asking.

2.  Right before I got sick this last time I had a presentation to give for a few clients at work.  It was a last minute change for me to do this presentation.  The other person was helping me out when they agreed to do it.  Well, on the afternoon of the presentation I had to walk from my office to the other side of our building.  By the time I got to the boardroom I was sweating and gasping for air, but I was glad I left a couple minutes early so I could sit in a chair just outside the boardroom to catch my breath. (I didn't bring my rescue inhaler with me simply because I already had enough to carry with the presentation materials, and I didn't want to bring attention to my medical condition.  It never dawned on me that I could put my inhaler in my pocket.  Live and learn.)  Well, when I got to the door to the boardroom my key card wasn't working.  So, here I was standing outside this enormous room full of a sea of desk with all kinds of people as I tried my key card several times.  I was panicking and afraid of what would happen to me if I had to make the long walk back to my office and then back to the boardroom again because I knew I would surely not be able to do it without passing out or something.  I could see it now, me being wheeled out of the building by paramedics.  Not exactly the kind of thing I wanted my co-workers and everyone else in the building to see for sure.
Luckily I did manage to remember to bring my cell phone with me.  I called my manager, but she had stepped away.  I called my supervisor and he had also stepped away.  So, I called the only other number I knew someone would answer and that was our my teams number.  When my co-worker answered I explained  my little dilemma and this co-worked agreed to get another key card, that we knew would work, and bring it to me.  I do not know if this co-worker knows just how much this helped me and saved me from a super embarrassing situation.  This co-worker didn't even hesitate to come to my rescue that day and I cannot thank them enough.  

3.  A sweet and totally random message from a long time friend telling me how much our friendship means to her.  That message really lifted my spirits at a time when I really needed it.

4.  The many other notes, cards, messages, and phone calls from friends and family checking up on me.  Each one means so much to me.

Three things I cherish about this experience:

1.  I'm still in shock at how bad off I really was!  I cannot get over the drastic change in myself.  One dose of the new medication and I could breathe!  All this time I thought I couldn't do things because of my weight and my age.  Who knew it was, as the doctor put it, my poorly controlled, severe asthma?!!  This truly was a miracle for me because I tried and tried to get my doctor to understand what was happening the last time this happened.  I was in their office every other day then.  So, when it happened again I was very reluctant to go back to my doctor this time.  That's never happened before.  This doctor's office has always been able to go above and beyond for everyone else in our family.  (We've been with this office for over 15 years!)  So, why not me?  I was even considering moving our records to another doctor because I felt like they just were not getting it.  I'm so glad I didn't and gave them another chance to figure things out.  I saw a different doctor in the same office this time.  One I haven't seen in a while, but I think I will continue to ask to see in the future!  She is amazing!!!  Medical science is not an exact science and I need to remember that. AND you have to be your own advocate sometimes.  

2.  I'm still in awe of my dear friend who recently found out about her breast cancer just days before she took the time to check up one me.  What an amazing woman who put aside her own issues just to surprise me with her sweet message.  What a gift!  And her prayers for our family and my health have meant more than anything!

3.  Kevin.  Have I mentioned that he has treated me like a queen?  He may not have been able to take me to my doctor's appointments like he would have liked to, but he was able to do something for me that I could not do for myself.  That was to give me a Priesthood blessing.  I cannot tell you how much that means to me.  Even with all of his issues and his limited mobility he has reminded me that he will always be my hero!  I love him more than anything.  

Two observations I've made:

1.  When you can't do something, that's when you really WANT to do it!  I've wanted to go for a nice long walk or spend some time running on a treadmill more than ever through all of this.  Those that know me well know I do not run.  At least not on a regular basis.  Sure, I will get out and go for walks now, but I've missed some of the best weather here.  It's beginning to get hot here again.  Darn it all!!

2.  This one is more an observation for people with physical injuries.  (I've watched this happened with Kevin and with others people as I sat waiting in the doctor's office.  Makes me glad no one could really see my ailment.)  It doesn't matter that you have a huge sized brace or sling on your body and the look of pain in your eyes, people will hug you, jab you, or pat you on your sore back and somehow always manage to put their hands on your sore spot.  It's ironic because they are trying to be so gently and not hurt you, but they instinctively will manage to do just that....hurt you.  Luckily we can laugh about that.  It has made us cry too.  But hey, at least these people care and are trying let you know in the best way they know how that they care about you right?

One thing I am certain of:

1.  No matter how inconvenient or how much of an interference this has been in my life, I know it's for my good and I will grow from this experience.  It's hard to come to terms with your own physical limitations.  This isn't over by a long shot.  They tell me that I will have to be monitored and re-tested again in three and six months.  But I'm on the right track now...finally!!!  No matter what, I know that Heavenly Father gave me this challenge for a learn and grow from.  So, I may as well learn and grow, right?

ETA:  I wrote this over the last weekend.  This past weekend I felt like I was ready to conquer the world!  After all, I could finally breathe.  I should be all better, right?  Well, apparently not.  On Friday my doctor decided to also put me on a steroid.  When I reminded her of the allergic reaction I had with the last round of steroids she decided to do something different.  She said I was allergic to Prednisone in pill form, so she opted to give me Depo-Medrol in shot form. Sunday night I laid out all my clothes for work the next day, set my alarm nice and early so I could have plenty of time to do all the things I needed to do in the morning.  When I woke up I had hives all over me.  The hives have lasted all week and I have other "lovely" symptoms we won't discuss as well.  So, I went back to the doctor.  She confirmed it was due to the steroid and she told me to stay on the Benedryl pills and cream until they were gone.  I do not like Benedryl at all!!!  It makes me to sleepy and I can't drive when I take it because of that.  Once I was in my car after my doctor's appointment and was alone driving myself home the tears began to stream down my face.  I was soooo discouraged.  I'd been feeling great and had such a positive attitude on the weekend until my allergic reaction!  

So, today, I sobbed again while in the bathroom alone where no one else could see, and I decided to count my blessings.  I had to remind myself buck up and that things certainly could be a whole lot worse.  I could have been told I had COPD (my biggest fear this entire time, especially after I learned what all the symptoms were).  I thought for sure I had that.  (My guess is I probably will end up with that somewhere down the line.  Arg!)   BUT, that's not what my doctor said.  She said I had severe asthma that was poorly controlled with all the other medications I was on.  Then she gave me this wonderful new drug that changed everything.  That is indeed a blessing, and so I decided that I can deal with all this other stuff, besides there has been tremendous progress here!  I'm amazed at how far I've come.  

I am grateful that I'd written my positive thoughts down before all these hives and things popped up because I really do have much to be thankful for, even though things didn't work out quite the way I had liked or as fast as I would like.  Trust me, no one wants this to be history more than me!  (Well, except maybe my family.  I think they are sick of me.)

Life is good.  

Side note:  I need to thank my parents for coming to my rescue, yet again, when we really needed it.  I cannot thank then enough for all they do for me.  I love them more than they probably really know and I am so grateful for their example, support, and love.  I truly have amazing parents.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.  
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