Winter cold anxiety.

I am convinced that it all started in a seedy motel room in Utah. My asthma that is. By way of a three month long bout with pneumonia that followed me home from Alt Summit in Salt Lake City and left me a souvenir of lung scars. After a few months and one remarkable incident when swimming in FREEZING sea water I began to forget all about it with the inhaler settling to the bottom of my sock drawer. Lately I have had little reminders. Enough to send me digging through the socks just in case. Today it is back and has settled on my chest like an old house cat. It has to be the cold.

Today is cold despite the get up Clover insisted on wearing. I forced the tights, jacket and beanie and she learned today the difference between a tunic and a dress. I have edited the following image into black and white to save your eyesight. You are welcome.

Ever since I got sick, cold hurts my chest. I have to weigh the anxiety level resulting from the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply against the pure puff of direct anxiety out of the inhaler. Today the puffer won. I might have to switch to decaf coffee over the winter.

Anyone else get this lovely door prize after having pneumonia? Any tips? I have a busy winter lining up and I can’t get sick again or let this hold me back. Off to grab a mandarin and start the school runs!

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  • Ann Hanlon - The “puff of anxiety” will wear off as your body adjusts to the albuterol and become just a puff of “holy crap I can breathe again.” I have found in my 20 years as an asthmatic that strong coffee will sometimes help with the tightness in my chest. Going in and out of the cold (hot car, cold air outside, warm house, cold outside, etc.) will wreak havoc on your asthma. Did your dr give you any preventive meds? Advair is a good one. Hope this helps! Stupid seedy motel room….May 29, 2012 – 3:45 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - Maybe my coffee addiction has been my daily preventative medication up to now???May 29, 2012 – 11:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Louise Fletcher - My husband is an asthma sufferer and I’ve noticed the puffer out more often lately. The only thing I can suggest is never move to Sydney. Apparently Australia has the highest rate of asthma in the world, but Sydney is the world’s worst city. But at least that means a lot of research is done here. Decaf sounds good!May 29, 2012 – 3:59 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - That is so surprising…seems like that “honor” would go to somewhere with a ton of pollution!May 29, 2012 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

      • Louise Fletcher - Something to do with Sydney being in a big “bowl” surrounded by hills/mountains. Other bad places are LA and Santiago apparently.May 30, 2012 – 7:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Tracy - I learned what my asthma triggers and avoid them. Maybe you need to wear a scarf up around your mouth when it’s extra chilly and damp? Preventative medicine may be what you need in the colder months? Hope you and your lungs get some relief.May 29, 2012 – 6:51 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - I did not know you had asthma! I feel like I need to wear a dickie…just one of those circa 1970’s faux turtlenecks that is not actually a full shirt.May 29, 2012 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

      • Tracy - There are plenty of prettier options! I have what is called exercise-induced asthma. So it is a bit easier for me to control, but sometimes I’ll get weazy if the air is super damp and cold, and i’m not exerting myself at all.May 31, 2012 – 8:09 amReplyCancel

  • melbo - I am on a preventer now because the Ventolin was getting too well used. I had asthma constantly as a child. I began getting asthma again in my early 30s and having pneumonia just before Rory was born made the situation worse. If I don’t use the preventer, I have problems on a daily basis.

    I’ve more or less accepted this as fact. I won’t be going back to what I was before. I can recommend though that if there are any known allergens, you might want to look into desensitisation. I have that done every few years as it helps with both asthma and allergies.

    Good luck with it. I keep taking those drugs because I have heard that if you don’t control it, some permanent lung damage can result. I don’t want to end up one of those people you see in shopping centres, wheeling an oxygen tank around.May 29, 2012 – 8:43 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - I did not even know there was daily meds for it…I thought maybe it had gotten better since last winter and that I had given myself time enough to heal, but apparently not. I will head back to the doctor when I can to see what else I can do!May 29, 2012 – 11:06 pmReplyCancel

      • kati - hi rachel! i think i told you about my Advair last time you mentioned your inhaler. it is a wonder drug! i never need my rescue albuterol inhaler ever anymore (and i’ve had allergy-related asthma since i was very young). it’s a twice-daily two-drug combo inhaler and one of the drugs is a steroid, though, so that is a bummer. i hate the idea of being on a steroid for the rest of my life… but i’ve had no side-effects after years of use except for the wanted effect of not having surprise anxiety-inducing asthma attacks and not having to use my albuterol. i hope you feel better soon! xoMay 30, 2012 – 9:45 amReplyCancel

  • Michaela - I’ve had pneumonia and I was in the same stituation. I was back and forth to my doctor and eventually they suggested yoga. Either Kundalini Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga and Ihave to say, it has really helped. He also suggested watching for changes in my routine when in flares up (Is it really the cold for you or is it an allegen?) because its during the winter it normally gets worse he suggested that maybe it was the dust from being inside or the air from artificial heaters.

    I hope it gets betterMay 29, 2012 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - It honestly is cold that triggers this the worst…and having a chest infection. We don’t have any heating on yet, but as soon as it gets cold or if I go into cold water I am sacked with the breathing issues! I thought it had gotten better, but it was just hiding. I will explore it further with the doctors though and maybe keep a log to see if there is something less obvious that may be a trigger. I had not thought about yoga though, great suggestion!May 29, 2012 – 11:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Angela - Asthma is a sneaky thing…
    What about daily Flovent? My daughter developed asthma after bronchiolitis at 18 months. She is 12 now and has similar triggers to you ( she plays hockey, so hitting the ice after a hot dressing room set her right off). The daily flovent is a PiTA but it serves the purpose of helping not get to the spot where you need the ventillen to breathe.

    And why the decaf? We have been counseled that caffeine plays a good part in helping during these attacks.

    Gah. That jut sucks for you. Stay healthy.May 29, 2012 – 9:47 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - I was just kidding about the decaf only because the puffer tends to add a bit of anxiety ontop of my already highly caffeinated state.May 29, 2012 – 11:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Maritza Ruefer - If you have asthma, you are two to three times more likely to be allergic to your pet than someone who doesn’t have asthma. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the animal’s fur that’s the main problem.May 29, 2012 – 11:21 pmReplyCancel

  • IME - My son has viral-induced asthma (getting sick triggers his asthma, rather than an allergen). He was a preemie and has had a few rounds of bronchiolitis and pneumonia, so he probably started out with some lung damage. After trying to avoid a maintenance med (we were using albuterol in a nebulizer as needed), we finally put him on a daily med. We started with Flovent, which didn’t work for him — too many side effects. He’s on Qvar now, which he seems to tolerate fairly well. We only put him on the daily meds during cold and flu season (since his asthma only flares up when he’s sick). Maybe it would help to go on a daily med during the winter? I hope you can find something that helps!May 29, 2012 – 11:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Corinne - I have asthma secondary to colds as well. It’s gotten worse since being pregnant and having kids, plus I’m sick all winter. I agree with others that albuterol is best used as a “rescue inhaler” when you can’t get your breath. I start using Advair daily as soon as I get a cough or any inklings of asthma. That and trying to keep coughs from getting too bad (sleep, cough drops, nighttime cough suppressants) is the best I’ve managed.May 30, 2012 – 2:12 amReplyCancel

  • Pesc - Just be sure that you don’t have molds in your house… I can tell you that after behing so sick for 9 years before we find out we had molds in the house. We get ride of them and now my health did improve a lot! So if winter means behing inside more and not open your windows a lot… be sure the air you are taking is clean of molds. Good luck with it all. I so know the feeling!May 30, 2012 – 3:24 amReplyCancel

  • imene - my son gets asthma secondary to any upper respiratory illness. colds runny noses turns our days into hell.
    My doctor recommended a regimen of elderberry juice and vitamin c to strengthen the immune system. we have had fewer incidents
    Elderberry juice helps the respiratory system. I can find it at wholefoods and health stores in the US. I would be happy to ship you some if you can’t find it.May 30, 2012 – 4:42 amReplyCancel

    • Robin - I have some cousins who swear by the elderberry juice as a preventive measure for all kinds of illness. I tried it when my littlest was getting lots of ear infections but wasn’t very consistent so I can’t speak to it personally.June 2, 2012 – 5:07 amReplyCancel

  • Jaida - Second the suggestions to look into a daily preventive medication rather than needing to use the rescue all the time (though it’s true, you do get more used to it and react less over time). There is also a medication, Xopenex that has milder side effects when compared to albuterol. See if you can get a referral to a pulmonologist, they are generally much better versed in what meds are available now for your particular scenario.

    I had pneumonia while pregnant and because all the doctors were so reluctant to use any meds on me (or do x-rays, etc), I had some scarring develop. It’s gotten progressively better but the first winter after was hard. I started taking Vitamin D and have noticed a drastic reduction in the number of colds I catch that lead to settling in the chest.

    Good luck, it’s rotten to feel like you’re held hostage by your own lungs.May 30, 2012 – 5:21 amReplyCancel

  • Kim - I would second trying yoga–I both practice & teach kundalini, and it’s definitely helped my immune system get stronger (there are even series designed specifically for the immune system). I’ve also recently discovered Jin Shin Jyutsu & highly recommend it as well…the power for healing that is has seems quite unique. That said, of course things like keeping warm, taking vitamins, making sure there’s no mold in your house, and using your inhaler if you need it are all good things to do/keep doing! Good luck getting better. It’s no fun to feel like you’re fighting your body to live your life.

    If you’re interested in JSJ, here’s the list of practitioners in the Melbourne area: 30, 2012 – 7:57 amReplyCancel

  • Hold Me Closer Tinydancer - Shirk off life and stay inside until Sept 1st!June 4, 2012 – 4:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Becca - Clover is such a character. Love her outfit. I hope your lungs give you a break soon!!June 9, 2012 – 12:55 pmReplyCancel