Asthma – No! I do not have chest pain!

Ok, it has been two weeks since my visit to Express Care, but this event still resonates in my head and I feel the need to write about it.

It was a Wednesday, the day started pretty well. My lungs were feeling a little off, but it seemed manageable. Everything started going down hill just after I got off work. I had to go to the pharmacy because I procrastinated getting a Med, which now had run out. I think the shortness of breath started while the pharmacy fulfilled my prescription. After my prescription was filled, I headed to my car and it started hitting me hard. One would think that driving a car is not that physical, try it while laboring to breathe. I knew this was bad. So I decided that I needed help and the Express Care that I always visit was just down the road.

I guess some back story is needed. The weekend before, I went to Walt Disney World and participated in their half and full marathon, which consisted of one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Unfortunately, last time I did a marathon it required a visit to my Pulmonologist for help. This time around, this was much worse and I needed help much sooner.

I made it to Express Care. I walked in the place and wouldn’t you know it, they were really busy. The person at the desk told me that I might be better off trying one of their other facilities. The problem with that is, the next one is clear across town and I might pass out before that happens. Well, I let the person know that I am progressing into a serious asthma attack. I figured that I would have to wait to get admitted so I thought it would be a good time to start taking some Ventolin hits, something I haven’t started doing yet. Yeah, I should have done that in my car on the way over.

I guess people with breathing issues do not wait in the waiting area. Next thing I know, a tech came out with a wheelchair and I was rushed to the examining room. I realize that they have no idea what is happening to me without ordering tests. The first thing they gave me was a breathing treatment. I so welcomed that! Last visit, when I got smoked out from my neighborhood burning leaves, they gave me a combination Neb of Albuterol and Xopenex. This time I am pretty sure the nurse said, but could be wrong, they were giving a combination Neb of Albuterol and Epinephrine. What ever it was, it was not misty like strait Albuterol, strange stuff. Whoops, I forgot to mention. They repeated ask me if I was having chest pain. I guess they thought I was having heart attack symptoms. Nope, I have no pain.

It wasn’t long into the breathing treatment that the EKG arrived. The tech did not have to tell me that my shirt needed to come off. The tech acted kind of surprised by that. I have had a few and I know the drill. After the breathing treatment and EKG was done, I moved back into a wheelchair and head off to get some x-rays of my chest done. I really did not think this was needed and it turned out I didn’t.

After all that, I was back in my room. I was still not breathing very well and the nurse asked if I wanted some oxygen. She told me that it would help. I have never been on O2 before but I said, what the heck, lets give it a try. Wow, that really did the trick. My breathing went to normal in only a few minutes, although, I could really feel in my chest that I had been breathing hard.  As I look back, I was starting to get exhausted from breathing that hard.

Now the fun begins, the doctor arrives. I know that doctors are really knowledgeable. But, when EKG are good, chest x-ray are good, and listening to me breathe is good, this doesn’t not mean that I am not having troubles. The doctor gave me the feeling that I really did not need to come in. I should have used my rescue inhaler and everything would have been great. He even asked were my inhaler was, it was in my pocket.

I think I will digress a moment, it has been my experience that when I get these breathing symptoms, Ventolin does not seem to react very well. Just yesterday I was experiencing the same thing while waiting at the checkout in a grocery store. I had taken a couple of hits off the Ventolin inhaler because I felt it coming on. Did it help, it might have a little but I suffered all the way home and did much better after an Albuterol Sulfate Neb.

I know now how it feels to feel guilty about wasting the time of these Express Care staff. I have read blog posts from asthmatics who have felt the same way, now I understand. I am still going to pester them because it is my life and not theirs. Is it just me or is Asthma misunderstood by even medical professionals?

Whew, this is a big post. Ok, I ended up on antibiotics, prednisone, and albuterol Nebs every two to three hours. It took about six days to get back to normal.


9 responses to “Asthma – No! I do not have chest pain!

  1. I am sorry for your experiences. You need to take care of yourself, please.

  2. Steve says it time and time again, that a lot of medical professionals just don’t know how to deal with severe asthma exacerbations. And that really really sucks. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid/stave off till point of avoidance any ER trips, but I’m sure if you’re anything but totally, totally typical in presentation, they just don’t know what to do.

    Did they determine you to have an infection on top of the exacerbation, or were the antibiotics just precautionary?

    I hope you’re on the uphill and are back to walkin’ those legs off soon, James!

    • Thanks Kerri! I am thinking they did it as precautionary. Pretty much the same meds that my pulmo did for the flare after my first marathon. Yeah, this was no a-typical presentation. I am special like that! 😉

  3. I never uttered those words. Whatever I say is out of concern, nothing more, nothing less, and usually due to my own personal experience with asthma.

  4. Having incurred adult onset Asthma several years back, in my late forties, I realize how intense the symptoms can get. My first priority was to educate myself on all aspects of asthma, and on COPD…which I also have as a result of adult onset asthma. I get bronchitis several times a year (no exaggeration…at least six times a year), and pleurisy about once or twice a year. Asthma is serious…not something to be in a state of denial about.

    Fortunately I am not using an oxygen tank. I am very cognizant on the subject of asthma and its affects and effects. I want to have the best quality of health and of life that I can, and I work hard to achieve it. I want to be there for my family as long as possible, and in as best of health as possible in order to do so.

    One must learn to do their activities in a manner that is fitting for them. I exercise, I walk, but don’t go overboard doing it. I walk about three to four miles a day, sometimes less, depending on health issues, sometimes it is less. I am in my sixties, and for me that is a good distance. I prefer the power of having control over life quality rather than having lack of control and let life get me down because I am in denial or because I don’t listen to my body, or because I do listen to my body and ignore the signs.

    We each are different. You will do what you want to do in respect to your asthma.

    • Thanks Rayna for sharing your experiences with me. It seems we have a lot in common being both having adult onset in our forties. This week has been a real wakeup call for me as you well know. I finally see your point and I really need to have the best quality of life for my family.

  5. Ick. Scary stuff! Happy you’re feeling better.

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