Sunday, February 7, 2016


I thought I'd give a quick update on my health. I am slowly coming to realize that there is a medical limitation on my life, and it's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It joins my asthma and has superseded the asthma as the biggest pain in the ass in my life. COPD means that I wake up every morning and clear the mucous out of my lungs. I cough and cough, and take my medicines; there are more than I've ever taken in my life. I have two inhalers, a nebulizer, and a daily tablet.  The best medicine is what I've been doing my whole adult life: running. 

I can't emphasize enough how important my relationship with my healthcare provider is.  Because I can have real conversations with her and because she's seen me over time, I was able to avoid getting bronchitis in January. I haven't been able to do that in years.  A short course of steroids was the trade off but I was able to wrangle the antibiotics before my sinus infection entered my lungs.  I mean, I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions, but I make them every year and sincerely keep them in mind. This years is to avoid bronchitis.  To that end, I saw my doctor early, took all of the stupid antibiotics and stupid steroids, and rested like a boss.  And as a result, for the last few weeks, I've been able to get to the gym (I have to run indoors to avoid pollen, dust, and other triggers) three times weekly for two miles at a time.  I run like an aging penguin, but I do it.  And I feel better. It helps my energy, sleep cycles, and mental state.

So those are the upsides.  I think for me the major downside is that I absolutely won't have any days where I'm not coughing. People will always ask if I'm getting sick and I don't know what to say. I have some fears. I hope I never have to have an oxygen tank. I hope I don't get lung cancer. I hope that it doesn't get worse. I really, really hope that a glass of red wine is part of the cure.

And I guess I'd like to answer those questions that will come up: The diagnosis came from my pulmonologist. I got it from teaching at a middle school in Oklahoma City where they had known mold and asbestos and were remodeling right while classes were going on. I inquired about the health risks; I got sick. I had bronchitis for 10 months straight. My doctor then told me that if I didn't find a different job I could die. And he wasn't kidding. It didn't help that I grew up in a home where people smoked. They didn't know about the hazards in the 70s and 80s like we do now. 

Until this morning when I finally read the literature on my condition, I was kind of able to pretend I didn't have it.  So there you have. I'll get used to it.