ellestra: (tiger)
So it has started. The spring is truly here and I'm hanging by a thread. The first hit is always the hardest. This sudden switch from being normal person who can go for long walks and even run to someone who gets sore muscles after walking up few flights of stairs too fast (or at least without panting). I knew it's getting really bad. At first the spring comes gradually and I almost imperceptibly get worse but then comes a tipping point and I crash. And by crash I mean I wasn't present for most of Monday. I woke up at 9:30 only because a phone call (I usually wake up by myself - no alarms needed). I tried to get up and go to work but I could barely keep my head up to write an email that I won't make it. And then I went back to bed and when I woke up again it was late afternoon. And normally I can't even fall asleep during the day.

I have 1-2 days like that every spring. They mean that my symptoms are about to get worse. I wake up in a world where it's harder to breathe and I remember why asthma sucks. And why the spring, especially here, is so awful, especially on beautiful days like today. It's easy to forget in good seasons. So I hope you enjoy your warm, sunny days while I dream of rain. And autumn.
ellestra: (charlie jade)
So I'm sick.

It all started three weeks ago with an itch. My first I thought it was just strands of the hair touching my neck. Then I thought it was an allergic reaction - mostly because I started to also get asthma symptoms and that even with me taking all my drugs. So I went to see a doctor and it turned out I wasn't having asthma exacerbation because something I touched or ate that also caused a rash. My throat was itching because I my asthma was so bad. So I got nebulizer treatment (and it stopped the itching so ) and went on highest dose of all drugs. I was hoping to avoid the worst - oral steroid. But unfortunately it only got worse. I got the first dose of steroid in the injection and that really hurt. I also got a cramp and couldn't sit for a while. Then I spent the next week on the oral steroid. I sincerely have no idea how anyone would take steroids from their own volition. It seems like a complete insanity to me as I always beg not to do it. But I get all the side effects and then some.

I go with it and suffer through all of that because it beats not breathing. The truth is - steroids help with asthma. They make symptoms go away. So when I was back to be able to walk a little faster then slow and run few meters without feeling like my lungs are about to burn inside I stopped taking them.

Of course by then I had the full spectrum of side effects. I got all the usual stuff like hunger attacks when you feel sudden, painful hunger that twists your stomach even when you've just eaten and are completely full. That's a really weird feeling to be full and hungry at the same time. And of course it resulted in weight gain too. There's also trouble with sleeping because of elevated heart rate and also in my case also elevated temperature (which means normal human body temperature as mine is normally lower). And dry mouth. And also the some less known side effects like eye problems - I have trouble with accommodation when I take it for too long. I can't wait for diabetes and/or glaucoma. Why would anyone do it voluntarily escapes me.

One more side effect is suppressing immune system so two days after I got all clear for asthma and stopped taking the corticosteroid I got sick. Like normal, viral infection sick this time. Just in time for the weekend. So now I sit home with fever (37.8 - doesn't happen that often too me) and sore throat and aching ears and something disgusting, almost solid and super sticky coming out of my nose. I was supposed to be finally fine and then this happened. Even the doctor's first reaction to seeing me again was "oh no, not you again". We even exchanged Holiday wishes last week - we didn't expect to see each other again this year.

And I don't even know why it all happened as I usually don't have asthma symptoms this time of year.
ellestra: (tiger)
So my asthma got really bad again. As I write this I'm sitting before my computer both very sleepy from all the nights that I just never seem to wake up rested just out of breath and jittery from all the drugs they make me take. There is something permanently stuck in my throat and I can't get it out and it feels like choking - like the opening is not wide enough and I just am tittering on the edge of panic like I cant breathe. I even have problems to swallow - to make that swallowing movement - and that makes the choking feeling even more pronounced. There is tightness in my chest that never truly goes away and I'm running out of breath when I talk.

I kept postponing going to a doctor because I was busy at work but mostly because I knew what they solution would be. I wasn't wrong I was given more steroids. The oral steroid helped a little when I started it but now that I tapered it off it's bad again and I'm stuck with side effects. And even with the initial dose lower that last year I still have all the side effects. I have a weird eye accommodation problem. I have the weird sudden bouts of hunger - I feel so hungry I'm nauseous - even if I ate not so long ago. But the worst is when I can't fall asleep because I'm so pumped up by all the drugs. I stayed up till 5 am on Sunday night and then felt dizzy the whole Monday from lack of sleep.

And the weather doesn't make it any easier - it's been 36oC most of this week. It's still not as humid as it can get here and the fireflies are pretty and I spent most of my time in air conditioned spaces but for me heat always makes my symptoms more pronounced. I miss the cool nights. And I hope that the storm they keep threatening us with tonight will come and wash some of this away. I'm sorry to all the people dealing with broken trees but I just need that atmosphere clean-up.
ellestra: (lightning)
My phone keeps sending me flash flood warning (I may need to turn it off for the night) but I live on a hill so I can safely ignore it. I just watch the rain water flowing down in rivers and enjoy the ability to breathe (I think I forgot to take my asthma medicine this morning and I was fine).

It has been summer weather since last weekend - around 30 C and sunny. At least it'd be the hot version of Polish summer but it was neither hot enough nor humid enough for it to get unpleasant. At least not here when I work and sleep in air conditioned rooms and live in a semi-rural towns among more trees than concrete. It'd be a great time if not for the pollen.

So I've been waiting for this rain to come. It was in forecast for a long time but it kept moving away. I was excited this morning when I woke up to grey skies. It was finally going to rain and clean the air. The first few quick rains were fine but then it started pouring and it still haven't stopped. It's not a storm - no lightning, no wind - just falling water. It's been around 5 hours already. I tried waiting for it to clear to go home and then got tired and just walked through a square turned into pool. I took my sandals off walking from the bus home because it was easier to wade through water barefoot. I didn't mind - I liked it - but they already said ground is soaked and cannot soak any more water so it's all going to turn streams into rivers and create streams where there were none. I'm happy I live on a hill. I'm worried about those who don't.
ellestra: (lightning)
The last few days were very warm and it turned into full blown spring in less then a week. Everything is blooming and what isn't is green with new leaves. The weather is perfect - 25-28oC during the day and cool nights. It's just makes you wish you could stay outside and do something. But if you me that's really hard to do. Pollen is everywhere. Both the one that makes life annoying to everyone and the one that makes allergies make my life miserable.

Everything is covered by yellow pine pollen it changed the colour of streets, cars and creates a little dust storms with every gust of wind. It sticks to every surface. Even though the nights are perfect for sleeping with open windows you cannot as it will get everywhere and on everything. When they finally painted my walls last week the smell was so horrible it made me nauseous and I had to keep everything open for couple of days and then vacuumed on Saturday and the bin was all yellow inside. And that was before it got really bad. Now you get all dusty just by walking outside.

But even worse is the stuff that can't be seen. The one that makes my lungs contract, my nasal tracts swell and my eyes water. The ones that Makes it hard to breathe even though I'm so full of drugs my muscles get all stiff and contracted. The funny thing about all of this - if I don't take drugs my muscles hurt from oxygen deprivation lactate build-up but if I take the drugs it makes them prone to cramps and leads to my back and neck feeling permanently stiff. Yay, spring.

Luckily it's raining now - washing away the pine pollen and removing it and all the other stuff from air. We can even have thunderstorms too tonight and I would be very happy but I wanted to see the lunar eclipse and there is no chance for that now. Not with that cloud cover.

This is how pretty it looks now - look at the redbuds and cherry trees. Even wisteria started blooming in just last 2 days.


And this is what I blame for the state of my asthma right now - it's almost like birch and I'm sure similarly allergenic.
ellestra: (tiger)
This was taken from lungs of a woman:


She has asthma and her lungs produce white stringy phlegm with a consistency between goat’s cheese and chewing gum. This appears connected to crystalline structures typical of calcium deposits and cells containing lipid particles shown by electron microscopy. This is one of my nightmares as I too had recurrent respiratory infections since childhood and the phlegm produced in my body during the asthma season is so dense I can fully remove it and it sticks on my voice cords and my voice disappears in random moments (if you never experienced pulling phlegm out of your body like a string because it so sticky it never breaks I hope you never will). I keep taking steroids even though they do bad things to my body weight (and beta agonists may quicken the arrival of glaucoma) because they help me breathe. But I none of my skin tests or IgE level measurements has ever given any clue to what I'm allergic too. One doctor mentioned my lungs may just be super sensitive to small particles - so problems during spring and with dust during building and renovation and other things like that.I haven't had any recurring respiratory infections for few years but this part really got me worried:

Treating a presumed but not proven diagnosis can lead to serious side effects aggravating the patient’s symptoms. Both a weight gain of >30 kg and the development of pulmonary tuberculosis is likely to be related to long-term steroid therapy.


And this is how a spiral into hypochondria starts. Dum, dum, dum.

Hurt

Sep. 24th, 2013 11:18 pm
ellestra: (lightning)
I'm not sure what it is.I'm sleepy all the time and can't get up in the morning and then develop a headache in the evening. And my hair is falling out like crazy. Being sleepy started first and became so bad I started to suspect diabetes until I met with a friend on Saturday and she said she had exactly the same thing (including diabetes suspicions). So now I'm starting to thing that maybe there is something to that equinox thing and I'm taking it really badly this year. Or maybe it's the weather changing as it's barely above 20oC during the day and it changes between rain and cool, sunny days. And nights are cold. And I'm allergic to something now. And I'm complaining to the internet because I'm never at home when my family can talk and I need to whine to someone or at least feel like I do. It is hard to concentrate now. I'm so glad I have DVR because things are starting (and sometimes ending) and I'm not up to it.
ellestra: (lightning)
We started having moments of good weather. Previous weekend. This Saturday. Today. Sunny and warm. Very warm even. And then it gets cold again. Today it was 19oC, tomorrow 13 and on Thursday just 7 and -4 at night. Of course compared to home this is spring in full bloom. Poland is still covered in snow and there is -11 in the forecast for Saturday night. All everyone does when I talk to them is complaining about winter and why the spring hasn't come yet. And not just in Poland but even in here as both places have unseasonably cold weather for the season. But at least here it looks like spring as everything is blooming, including the trees so my asthma is going crazy and that drives my doctor to overdrive because she cannot stop hearing weezing in my lungs.

It was only 4oC during the day yesterday. And cloudy with drizzle and wind. One good thing about it was that was the day I got my got my follow up on asthma and an ophthalmologist visit. And the cloudy weather weather helped with the diluted irises (although my vision was still crazy blurry - I couldn't see my own signature but waiting for it to go away gave me time to listen to Neverwhere). The oral steroids they gave me for the lung inflammation caused some weird things to my vision (I got a little problem with focusing - seems to happen slower then it should). After hour and half of questions and tests I learned I have a good sight, my eyes are in very good condition but the steroids can cause redistribution of liquid in the eye that can lead to swelling of the lens and focusing problems. Just another fun addition to the asthma related problems. It's supposed to go away after I stop taking prednisone (it is already little better as I'm tapering off the drug). So fun. Tomorrow, another follow-up.
ellestra: (sunrise)
I've been very busy last week. It was because of the experiments I needed to do and because I had to plan for conference and training trips and because I also had to prepare my data for incoming lab meeting and data for people who we work with because they were just waiting for it to submit their paper. So I didn't watch any news except looking at BBC and some Polish news portals to check if the world still exists. I even forgot it was Women's Day until it was almost over. Then I just went to see a movie on Saturday to relax (I picked something that were supposed to be visually pretty and fluffy and I left only half satisfied and rather irritated but reminded me about the real meaning of Women's Day).

So when I overslept today I wasn't aware how much I overslept. It's spring and my asthma is acting up, especially after they changed my main medicine (it was supposed to be better but it's worse and I need to change it back tomorrow), so I usually can't sleep. I wake up because I can't breathe. So I was pretty surprised that when I finally decided to wake up it was already 10 on my watch. I was even more surprised when it turned out it was actually 11.

If not for all the OS devices automatically updating time I would be totally unaware it was time change time already. Somehow I remembered it as being two weeks before what we do in Europe (which always happens on the last weekend of March) so I expected this to happen next weekend. That's how it always been since I've been here. But it turns out it's actually changed in US on the second weekend of March. This is usually 2 weeks before Europe - except for a year like this one when March has 5 full weekends - and then there is 3 weeks difference. So I already am on Summertime and Poland changes to it, once again, on Easter (it always makes me pity those who feel the need to go for the 6 am mass).

And this way I have an extra week of only 5 hour difference between here and home this year. Maybe I'll even manage to skype with people during the weekdays.
ellestra: (lightning)
It rained since yesterday night and then sun came out for couple of hours in late afternoon. But it didn't last as the clouds came back darker and thicker and then hail started falling from the sky. Pieces of ice bounced from balcony into my room and the knocking of hail on the wood was accompanied by car alarms. Then it turned into a rain the you could hardly see the world through. We had several cycles of less and more intense rain since then.

Night is already noticeably colder than it was for at least two weeks and the forecast says it will be even colder with more spring like temperatures coming this week (even 4C at night). Still today's weather made me feel it's summer already even more. This is how summer is in Poland - heat wave ending in intense storm with sudden temperature change after. And flash floods. Hail sometimes too.



The thing that reminds me it's still spring are the small, bright green leaves and pollen. The one that makes it hard to breathe and that yellow thing in the photo. That's pine pollen - about a day/day and half worth. Yesterday, before the rain, I was causing dust storm walking through grass because there is so much of it. Pine forrests back home are bad enough but here it's even worse. It sticks to everything - cars, roads, windows so no spring cleaning for now. Good thing about it is that, since it's so big and sticky, it doesn't cause allergies. The thing that  makes me sick now is most likely oak - I look at it's catkins with hatred.
ellestra: (telamon)
There is a new batch of trees flowering outside and the weather is nice. This incredibly beautiful spring means one thing. I can't breathe. There are pink and white trees all over the place and their smell is suffocating. My muscles are sore as if I spent hours exercising not just been walking around. I wake up short of breath and tired. And changing for Daylights Saving Time hasn't helped. So instead of enjoying the sun and 20-something temperatures I dream of beautiful world of ice and bottled air:

Fishing under ice from Juuso Mettälä on Vimeo.

ellestra: (sunrise)
Today January ends and I can't stop feeling surprised it haven't ended long time ago. We've been talking with my friends here for weeks about how hard it is to remember it's still January when it's sunny and +20 outside. I keep thinking it must be March already. Temperatures drop below zero only on some nights. We didn't have a really cold day since the beginning of the month. Only a few days had temperatures blow 5. Many were above 15. Last Saturday and today were above 20. There's a feeling of wrongness when you see people walking around in shorts and flip-flops in January. Tomorrow's forecast +22C.

It's been a warm December and a very warm January and the spring is already visible everywhere. I see blooming trees and flowers and know there are other, less visible but more insidious, things spreading pollen and making me sick. My asthma sure thinks spring started in December. The warmth is nice and I enjoy eating outside and walking around in just a t-shirt but I wish I didn't feel like I was beaten up. And the drugs I take for it have side effects that makes it worse. It's like all my muscles have extra tension in them. But without them breathing is hard.

I also understood were the nightmare stories come from. Waking up with your lungs cramped and hurting I wish there was someone to blame too.

Meantime in Poland there's a real winter finally with temperatures down to -15 during daytime. I bet nothing is pollinating. and I'm one of those lucky people whose asthma doesn't get worse from cold. I don't like temperatures below -10 because my eyes water and inside of the nose sticks together but I'd still prefer it to allergy. I'd rather be there glued to radiator.

I dream of perfect world were spring an breathing are not mutually exclusive.
ellestra: (lightning)
Most of the days were sunny and hot this weekend but the afternoons brought clouds and rain. Yesterday there was a storm but today it's just raining. I was waiting for this rain. My asthma was really bad in past two weeks and this rain brought a little respite. And it's supposed to get a little bit cooler in next few days, well at least during the night. This means I might be able to finally get a good night sleep. If not it'll have to wait till I get home. It's soon now and my mind is already halfway there.

However my friend got an option to go to Galapagos for research and, as happy as I am to go home were the real summer with long days and even longer evenings is, I'm kind of envious. Especially since I just got a secret scoop about the real reason behind her trip. She's joining the taskforce
ellestra: (lightning)
Just a week ago the weather was summer like. Sunny and very warm. There were people sunbathing in swimming suits around the pool. Then the temperature started to drop and it got cold. Really cold. The skies have been clouded for three days - the longest I've seen here I think. It was barely over 10C on Saturday but it got even colder on Sunday as it was just 3 degrees above zero during the day. I think it was warmer in Warsaw and March is rather cold there this year. When I was leaving for work today there was ice on the ground and tiny hail was falling from the sky.  At least it only rained at night.

On the other hand this reminded me of home as such changes of weather are perfectly normal for Poland. Especially this time of year. From summer straight back to winter. We even have sayings about that.

There is a good side to this. I feel much better. My asthma subsided as rained washed pollen from the air.  I said to everyone I'm happy it's going to rain a lot this week. I just wish it wasn't so cold. I may like cold better then heat but I still prefer warm. luckily tomorrow will get a nice warm and sunny day. Then rain and cold is coming back. I'm not sure what I want more.

Spring makes me feel at war with myself. I enjoy the views of pretty flowers, warm but not to hot weather and blue skies but they make me feel so bad I long for rain and the perfect, steady and depressing drizzle that lets me breathe.

Ambivalence. My word for spring.
ellestra: (sunrise)
My parents are complaining about the weather in Poland. This was a very harsh and long winter and it's still not quite over yet. There was just a light snow and minus temperatures at morning. This time of year and late autumn (especially November) are the moments when I really enjoy the fact I moved south. It was almost like summer in the past couple of days. It was sunny and hot (28o) in last couple of days. But it was not a humid heat of summer here. It was dry, with colder night and slight wind. Otherwise known a s perfect weather. If I could choose it would stay like that whole summer. Just without the blooming trees as they cause my asthma to go to overdrive. I'm barley able to walk for a short time before being out of breath even though I'm on the meds. Unfortunately. this is much worse here then in Poland and reminds me onec again that I love spring best on pictures. But pictures are sure pretty:
Redbud:


Magnolias


Flowering quince and pieris


More flower photos... )

Today it's cloudy and (relatively) cold but I'm sure it won't last long. I'm as always at this time of year I'm hoping for rain.
ellestra: (Default)
It's still π day at least here in US were people write dates inside out and it's 3.14 for couple more hours. I slept through most of it. It's not just time change which made getting up so much more painful. I crashed as soon as came back home and I blame all those blooming trees. They look pretty but ever since the white smelly ones started blooming my asthma went to overdrive and the drugs I take do not cope with all that blooming. It's been bad for few days and as the prophesied rain didn't come my body shut down. I didn't have any pies. I ate just one sandwich today and some carrots so instead I just had a look at what others did to celebrate. Like tor.com readers chosen The Gateway Drugs to Science and Math. And this:
ellestra: (sunrise)
The spring is here. Or more precisely that time before spring that's no longer winter but not a full blown spring either. We have a name for it in Polish - przedwiośnie. The weather randomly changes from cold to warm to cold again and from rain to sunny to snow. The trees are still bare but at every turn one can spot this:
Quince

Saw thistle

New leaves


And as all this seems early to me so do the horrible effects it has on me. I'm tired and sleepy. My muscles hurt even though I didn't do anything to warrant this. And breathing is hard. This moment is when I hate it most. I got used to not being sick. It was fine I could do exercises and enjoy walks outside. I'll get used to being sick in few weeks but now I'm so tired and the drugs are not enough and it just hurts all the time. It looks so pretty but I hate spring. I do say it every year, don't I?
ellestra: (Default)
My reaction for gentamicin was unexpected but what is really funny is that I've been dealing with it's close relative G418. G418 is widly use in biology for selection of cells that have desired mutation by inserting it along with KanMX - gene coding the resistance to G418 and related antibiotics. I used it for years, just never on myself. And never again. I'll just stick to β-Lactam antibiotics like did back home. At least they don't try to kill me.

Quite approprietly just as I was having my asthma resurgence the article in Nature Medicine announced discovery of the taste buds in lungs that cause opening of airways when sensing bitter taste. Triggering them works better then any known β-2 agonist. Too bad my main muscle relaxing drug uses lactose as a filling. It tastes sweet. This is what happens when you make medicine taste good.

You are not the only one using make up to look prettier. So do the flamingos. The famous pink colour isn't accidental. Before mating season flamingos work really hard to apply it to their wings and after they let it fade. Too busy with kids to take care of their looks I suppose.

Global warming effects will be different for us here on northern hemisphere then down south. They're going to get more intense storms all year round we will only get them bad on winter. This isn't as fun as you think as Moscow last summer proved. The unmoving high-pressure air and the smoke sure made it one of the worse and deadliest summers.So we get pollution they get whole year round superstorms. Joy all around. I think the difference between hemispheres is caused by the different land/ sea ratio.

And because I feel much better now I don't want to end with such a downer so here are some optical illusions that recreate the impossible objects in real life by Japanese mathematicians:


ellestra: (Default)
I've just learned I'm allergic to gentamicin the hard way. It was in the eyedrops I got for my conjunctivitis. It helped with the pink eye problem but my asthma symptoms got so bad I'm barley able to do anything without feeling like I'm about to faint.

You'd think I should notice before it got so bad but it's not like on movies. I don't get anaphylactic shock just by being close to an allergen. I just get weeker and more tired, can't sellep but cannot wake up either and my muscles start to hurt and it can be generally mistaken for getting sick. And since I was feeling sick already - with my eyes itching, burning and watering, I didn't notice. And then I went and tried to ride a bike uphill and I was barely able to come back. I'm trying to get back to normal ever since.

It seems that from now on this will join aspirin on no use list.

At least my eyes are OK now.
ellestra: (sunrise)
It got a little cooler today. It actually started last night. The night was quite cold - below 10C - so I opened all windows and aired the flat. Today it was barely 20C which almost seemed cold after over 30 whole past week. The good thing is that I immediately started to feel better so now I can be sure that my asthma getting worse is weather related.

I think that this year is also worse then usual. I'm told springs are usually pretty rainy here, with often torrent rain. And usually it's not as hot this time of year. Everything is blooming more rapidly and pollen is not washed down. But the cold (for here) winter and dry spring also have a good side - there are no mosquitoes. I was warned mosquitoes are horrible here but so far, despite the weather being very warm for something like two months, I haven't seen any. Only my family in Poland complain that back there they are horrible.

I decided to make the most of the better (for me) weather. It's only going to be a few days before the heat comes back. I cooked my favourite soup (from sauerkraut ), did some cleaning up and washing and I also went for a walk. Of course I over did and now I'm tired and my muscles are sore but I still can still breathe. Few days ago just a short walk uphill made me more tired.

I hope that when the spring passes the heat waves will stop being so hard for me. After all everyone says it will get much warmer.

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