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.