This cold has pretty much been the ass kicker of me this past week. I’ve been to the doctor twice, and pretty much lived on Albuterol. I was out of work three days last week, and I really wish I could have done that this week as well. Fortunately, though, after a course of antibiotics and Prednisone, I’m starting to feel better again. Not 100%, maybe, but 75% at least. Maybe 80%. My throat is still a little sore, and my voice is still hoarse. Over the past few days, by the end of the day, I’ve been pretty much unable to talk at all.
Prednisone is one of those miracle drugs that pretty much nips an asthma attack in the bud by reducing the inflammation in the bronchial passages. It’s cheap, too; my insurance won’t even cover it because the $10.00 co-pay for a bottle of 30 is more than the cost of the pills themselves. Unfortunately, it has undesirable side effects, even for short-term use: in particular, it gives you a voracious appetite. I think that I could probably finish off three or four double bacon cheeseburgers and still feel like I have room to spare, which is not a good situation for a guy whose doctor has been repeatedly telling him to lose the weight or start taking even more medications.
When I was at the pulmonologist’s yesterday, I took a spirometry reading; basically, you breathe into a tube which is hooked up to the doctor’s computer, and the machine measures the amount of air flowing in and out of your lungs. For four breaths, you breathe regularly. Then the nurse has you breathe in as deeply as possible, and then force all of the air out of your lungs as hard as you can for a full five seconds. You do this as the nurse counts the seconds off.
I’ve done this all my life. Modern spirometers are fancy devices that plug in to a desktop computer with a regular serial port, but when I was a kid, they were essentially big bellows with a meter attached. So all my life I’ve taken these tests, breathing in and then blowing out as hard as I can for five seconds. Each time I’ve always felt light-headed afterwards, as is to be expected But yesterday, I think I might have actually come close to fainting for the very first time out of the thousands of times that I’ve done this. I remember breathing in; I remember the nurse telling me to blow out as hard and fast as I could; I remember him telling me I had just four seconds left, and listening to him count off those seconds.
And then I remember simply sitting in the chair in the office, shaking almost uncontrollably while my world slowly came back from being black. I remember thinking that it was desperately important that I continue to hold the mouthpiece for the spirometer in my mouth, but I couldn’t because I was shaking so much. The nurse told me, “You can go ahead and put that down, buddy,” and I did so, gratefully. I sat in the chair, shaking for a few more minutes, and managed to say, “I think I almost passed out there.”
“Yeah,” the nurse said, “I think you almost did.”
Strangely, this was probably the best spirometry I’ve ever had. My lungs are taking in more air than they have in months, and handling it better than before. So I should be feeling fine, right? Of course I’m not. I’m still, paradoxically, short of breath and coughing a lot. The doctor told me that this was probably the residual infection left over from the cold; probably a secondary bacterial infection at this point, but possibly viral as well — and if it’s viral, of course, there’s nothing to do but let it run its course. In addition, my lungs, having been affected by asthma all of my life, have become scarred and damaged, and have even become reshaped over the years: a phenomenon called “airway remodeling”. My lungs will never be normal. There are little pockets in there that could possibly get infected and I might not even know it because the air never gets to them. I think that this is fascinating, especially because it provides me with some built in excuses: “Gee, I’d love to help you move your couch to the second floor, but I can’t — you know, that airway remodeling thing, never breathe normally again, etc., cough cough.”
It probably wouldn’t work. My friends have seen me move couches.
Work continues apace. We’ve gotten final word today that we’re going ahead with a major project that we’ve been planning on for a few months now, so things are going to be very interesting around the office for quite awhile as we plan and execute database migrations, code rewrites, platform changes, and so on. The biggest changes will be the ones in our business model and business logic, and we’re going to have to reorient our partners on how we do our business, but in the end, it will all be for the best.
The writing continues as well. I wrote The Outer Darkness for National Novel Writing Month as I had planned, but I am very unhappy with the way it turned out. I think that instead of focusing on this one as my novel for the upcoming year, I’ll bring back The Road to Gilead, the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year, and finish that up. It’s got a good story and a sound plot, I think, as well as some really good characters. I know where some of the weaknesses are as well, but I think I can make something good of it.
And with National Novel Writing Month over, I can focus again on my short stories. I’ve finished receiving crits on “Variations on a Theme” and am in the process of writing the second draft of that story. I’ve also been receiving crits on my most recent, “The Winds of Patwin County”. I was unhappy with this one while I was writing it, but after receiving a couple of crits, I think it’s probably one of my better stories. I already have ideas for the second draft, and one of the crits I received suggested that there might actually be a Serious Theme to that story. I was honestly shocked.
And my Grand Plan for the Terassic Cycle continues unabated. More on that later, perhaps.
So, that’s what’s been going on in my life. How about yours?