Tuesday, 20 December 2016


I'm not feeling all that well today. I woke up last night at about 2:00 AM with a tickle in the back of my throat. I started coughing. I wasn't able to settle until about 6:00 AM. Even now I have a slight cough, along with the constant urge to clear my throat. I truly hope this is something mild and passing; I definitely don't want to get sick this week.

Colds and other respiratory infections scare the daylights out of me. It is not uncommon for PALS to come down with a slight cold, yet end up in hospital with pneumonia. This is because we have what doctors call an "unproductive cough". We cough, but we don't have enough expulsive power in that cough to push out moisture collecting in our bronchia and lungs. So instead of coughing out the phlegm, it builds up no matter how hard we try.

It might be useful to note here that respiratory insufficiency is how the vast majority of PALS die. More plainly put, we can't get enough air when we breathe in, and we can't expel enough CO2 when we breath out. We don't actually die from respiratory failure; our lungs work just fine. It's that our muscles which do the breathing for us fail to do what they are supposed to do.

Pneumonia is another common issue and cause of death for PALS. In the last couple of weeks, three PALS I know online have gone into hospital with pneumonia. Once again, it's because we can't cough out the liquid in our lungs. Of those three, one did not recover. After much difficulty, the other two survived to fight another day.

There are machines to help with these problems, things like cough assist machines which use rapid reversing airflow to simulate a cough, and Bi-PAP breathing machines to aid in delivering air during breathing and, equally importantly, forcing out CO2 from the lungs. Then there is the classic tracheotomy, where a machine completely replaces the breathing function altogether. It's mechanical intervention to extend life. I'm not sure if it makes it any better.

Last night, at 2:00 AM, when I started to cough, I thought to myself "Here we go." This slow slide will not be a single event until the big one. It will be series of uncomfortable, intermittent breathing issues, ranging from a weak cough to not getting enough air. This actually started a while ago, the whole running out of breath thing. This is just the first time I've had a cough to go with it.

1 comment:

  1. I wish you well buddy. It could just be a common cold. Feel good and Merry Christmas. If you truly need to laugh, just watch our president elect talk for a few minutes.