Tuesday, July 1, 2008

3:00am Demons

Anne Shirley, the "red-headed bitch", as I've heard PE Islanders are wont to call her these days, talks in most of her books about 3:00am troubles that wake you up and make you think the world is coming to an end. I know this because I've read all the books—and still do, particularly when I'm in need of some good ol' fashioned cheering up. Anyway, I'm having a 3:00am trouble myself right now, and it's scared me enough that I've called the poor, probably overworked oncologist on call to talk about it. While I'm waiting for my page to her to be returned, I thought I'd share another part of this experience that isn't so fun (since the constipation has been, blessedly, absent for the last 5 days, I had to come up with something, you know?).

Anyway, starting maybe yesterday, maybe evening of the day before, I've had three or four completely unexpected, unprovoked (by choking or anything else) coughing fits. Now, when your lungs are at low capacity, coughing is really hard, because it takes a lot of breath. I guess it's also really hard to stop because of not having enough breath—at least that's been my experience. And my cough has also been completely dry and unproductive, so I just don't feel like it's doing any good. And it also seems to end up stimulating some phlegm production, which happens about 10 or so minutes after the coughing jag, and phlegm is hard to expel without, well, coughing again.

This particular night I developed a coughing jag about 1:00am. I was reading a book sent by my friend Anne (not the author), A Horse of Her Own, by Anne Wedekind (about girls and horses and a boy and a triumph), lying in bed where I spend the bulk of my time these days, and I suddenly started to cough. This went on for several minutes, until I was finally able to get my diaphragm under control. I finished my book, waiting for my cough nerves to quiet, then shut off my light and tried to sleep. No such luck. The only way I could keep from starting up coughing again was to take quick, shallow breaths. I propped myself up on some pillows to see if a lounging angle helped me stop panting, and it didn't really. I would drift to almost sleep, strange visions swirling through my mind, but then I would moan, or start to say something in the back of my throat related to my visions, and I'd be right back awake, panting.

I finally got scared about it—that's the thing about 3:00am—things seem scarier if they're already a bit inexplicable and scary—and got up and called the oncologist on-call. She was very sweet, and seemed to think that I might just have picked up a bit of a bug—as always, one is going around. We agreed that sleep was the most important thing, so I took a Benadryl (should kick in any minute now—much slower when it's not being infused in liquid form directly to my heart), and I'm going back to bed as soon as I'm done here. I don't have any unexplained swelling, though, so it's probably not heart-related; it doesn't seem likely that a medication is causing this; I don't have a fever (to speak of, but it has been 99.5 for a couple days, which is, come to think of it, high for me who is normally at 97.6). I wonder also if the cancer treatments are making the lung mets swell a bit and so breath and all it encompasses is simply a little harder. I will call Dr. Specht's nurse tomorrow and check in with her.

Okay, back to bed. Anyone awake right now, wish me luck.

7 comments:

Robert said...

That coughing fit you were having when you were leaving my folks' place on Sunday (and being thoughtlessly forced by Ian and I to try to remember where the two of you were on June 29, 2007) seemed really unpleasant . . . I can only imagine it would be worse at 1:00 AM. Good luck! -- Robert V.

Ian said...

The sleep-through-anything husband slept through all this. Maybe now that the weather is cooler, Spackle the Sentinel can be back on the bed and wake him for any future demons (so he can fret worthlessly at your side).

CMT said...

It's true, Spackle did not sleep through this. He came to visit, and when I sent him back to bed he went and lay down in the middle of the hall and the kitchen door so that I kicked him (gently, gently) when I went to fill up my water . . . he's a good dog :)

Stacey said...

And, the word from your oncologist was...?--As always, your concerned Cousin S.

Anonymous said...

I know this may sound super elementary, but could you be experiencing allergies? I have had a horrible case myself this season, with dry coughs like I've never had before, with running nose to match. Hopefully, these symptoms will go away on their own, or allergy meds? Thinking of you...

Gregory said...

Calin, although it seems somewhat appropriate for someone from Seattle to be "coughy", I hope this passes soon. Do you think setting your clock ahead so that it's never 3 AM would make things less scary? :-) Take care!

Anonymous said...

Calin- I am a friend of your mothers. Have been following you everyday. My most healing and caring thoughts are with you. May you be feeling much better soon!!!