I begin the new year on my back

What a way to begin the new year: chills, fever, a terrible cough and stuck in bed for nine days not being able to breathe well.
I won’t bore you with the gory details but there are several things I’ve learned that might help those of you with CMT who experience a bad cold or flu. (I had my flu shot back in October and I think what I’m recovering from is bronchitis.)
1) If you think you are coming down with something that will require antibiotics (something not viral), start taking acidophilus right away. Antibiotics kill all the bacteria, good and bad, in your gut and intestines and you don’t want diarrhea as well as whatever it is you have. A probiotic will keep your intestines healthy. I take one every morning sick or well. They are cheap and help keep your intestines functioning well.
2) If your diaphragm is affected by your CMT, coughing for days may weaken it to the extent that you don’t have enough push to blow your nose. If this occurs, talk to your doctor. Your sinuses can drain down into your lungs and without clearing your sinuses, you can really be miserable. I use a spray called Rhinocort (Budesonide) that helps reduce sinus swelling and a continually dripping nose. The only problem with it is that my hands aren’t strong enough to twist the dispenser. I have to ask hubby, Ron, to do it for me every morning. And, too much of it can see a nosebleed. Once my nose stops dripping continually, I designate one lip balm stick to my nose and use it to keep the inner tissues soft and lubricated. There are also products on the market that will open your nasal passages so you can breathe, whether you can blow your nose or not.

My respirologist had me take a sniff test. They do a live x-ray on your diaphragm and can see if it moves when you sniff. This is fine for one or two blows but when you are coughing maybe 50 times a day and night your diaphragm gets worn out. (I used five boxes of tissue with 65 in each.) It weakens. A sniff test doesn’t take this into consideration. I’ve even had my cough reflex conk out. I just couldn’t cough anymore even though I knew there was stuff that needed to come up. In this case suctioning can be done if the cough reflex doesn’t return.
3) This one is for me a lifesaver. Not only does it do away with the fear of having to go to the hospital where the wait is usually a grueling eight hours or more but it means I can control what happens to me when it occurs. Often with bronchitis, my lungs get so congested that I can hardly breathe. I’m fighting for every breath and can’t sleep unless I’m sitting up which is very painful as my neuropathic pain is in my behind and legs and sitting up on wrinkled sheets caused by the automatic bed is torture.
I use a portable home DeVilbiss Pulmo-Aide compact compressor nebulizer that turns the drug, Salbutamol, into a vapor and I inhale it. The vapor lets me breathe more easily and helps loosen the phlegm in my bronchial tubes. At first I might need it four times in 24 hours but the times grow further apart as my breathing becomes easier and the antibiotic (I use Biaxin slow release) begins to work.
Having a standing prescription for antibiotics, that I might or might not use once a year, and that nebulizer with the Salbutamol vials makes all the difference in the world for me. I know when I’m getting sick. I’ve had 70 plus years to get to know my body. I know the signs of a bronchial infection. Having a bit of control over my own body means a lot. For this I thank my respirologist.
4) Being female, my use of antibiotics is always followed by a vaginal yeast infection that itches like crazy (forgive me guys, but it happens). The antibiotic kills everything that keeps a good balance in that area of the female anatomy. The drugstore can supply you with an anti-fungal cream that, when used for three nights, should do the trick.
5) The last thing I do is wipe everything down with alcohol, especially my TV and electric bed remotes and my computer keyboards and mice. My drug paraphernalia is washed or wiped clean and put away for (heaven forbid) next time.
It was nine days in bed. I missed New Year’s Eve and our 33rd wedding anniversary. Then spent three days on the couch and now I’m slowly back at the computer. This is the most typing I’ve done in, maybe, three weeks and I’m heading for the couch.
My dear man, Ron, looked after all of my meals, changed my bed, did the housekeeping as he usually does, helped me in and out of the shower and was there for my every need. Thankfully, for him, I slept a lot. Without him, I’d have been in hospital. We were only rooms apart most of the time but I know I was lonely for him and he kept asking me when I thought I could get up so he wouldn’t be eating alone. After 33 years, it’s not easy being alone, even if it is temporary. And, the longer we’re together, the more we value each other.

I hope I haven’t grossed you out too much but I wish someone had told me about the standing prescription, and especially the nebulizer, years ago when I thought I was going to die, or just drown in bed, trying to get my next breathe.
The good news is that I’ve found the Smithsonian and Oasis HD channels and along with PBS (I’m hooked on Downton Abbey) and our Ontario TVO, I haven’t watched a commercial in three weeks…and my beloved orchids are all beginning to come out.
Stay well,