Running on Empty

For the last two weeks, I’ve not only been a Chronic Kidney Disease patient, but also a bronchitis patient and I am tired. I’m at the point where I can do a little something, say a load of laundry, and then it’s back to bed for a while. Or maybe I can make a meal for Bear (Poor husband, he has sinusitis.), but then back to bed for a while. I know I’m always tired when I’m recuperating, but once and for all, I want to know why.

You don’t have to tell me; I’ll go back to the beginning. I looked for a definition of bronchitis and – I kid you not – found the following one from The Merriam Webster Dictionary at https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/bronchitis: “acute or chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes.”

We know from the glossary in What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease that acute means, “Extremely painful, severe or serious, quick onset, of short duration; the opposite of chronic,” whereas chronic is, “Long term, the opposite of acute.” But “bronchial tubes” in the definition of bronchitis?  Oh, come on. How is that going to help?

Let’s jump back to my English teacher training at Hunter College a millennium ago.  Well, it feels like a millennium ago although it was really only five decades or so ago. That’s where I learned that ‘ial’ is a suffix (a group of related letters at the end of a word that changes its meaning) that means of or about, although The Free Dictionary at thefreedictionary.com/-ial tells me “characterized by” has been added to the definition since I graduated all those years ago.

Wait a minute. I remember quoting The Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bronchitis/DS00031 on bronchitis when I wrote The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2 – which I still intend to separate into two more manageable books if I can just stop getting sick.

“Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.

Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking.

Acute bronchitis usually improves within a few days without lasting effects, although you may continue to cough for weeks. However, if you have repeated bouts of bronchitis, you may have chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Treatment for bronchitis focuses on relieving your symptoms and easing your breathing.”

That clears up what bronchitis is, but why-oh-why am I so tired as I recuperate? Is it the coughing? The inflamed bronchi?

I turned to Verywell Health at https://www.verywell.com/acute-bronchitis-treatments-770331 looking for an answer. This site is comprised of “experienced doctors, nurses, patient advocates, and other experts, but may be vetted for accuracy by board-certified physicians” according to their webpage. This is what they had to offer:

“Acute bronchitis will make you very tired. This is due to both the infection and the persistent cough. It is important to rest as much as possible when you are sick. Although it may be difficult to sleep well when you have a cough, try not to exert yourself any more than is absolutely necessary so your body has adequate time to recover.”

Well, that’s stating the obvious. That first ten days I was a slug in our bed. Bear, even with his sinusitis, was waiting on me. He said it wasn’t that hard since I only ate so I’d have something in my stomach before taking my medications. I had to remind myself to drink, too.

I’d thought I’d take advantage of being in bed sick by watching movies and reading. Hah! I couldn’t concentrate, my head hurt, and I just wanted to stop coughing.

My daughters call me every day. We never decided upon that or made it a rule, they just do and I revel in it. Yet, I felt so bad that I asked them to text me instead so I wouldn’t have to talk.

I think we can understand how the cough could keep me awake which would make me very tired, but what about the infection? How did that add to the fatigue? Of course, we need to keep in mind that CKD itself can cause fatigue.

According to ABC News in Australia at http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2015-08-06/how-does-your-immune-system-help-you-fight-colds-and-flu/6650768:

“What’s making you feel lousy?

The symptoms you experience when you come down with a cold or flu are not only the result of the infection, they are also the result of your body’s immune response to the infection.

For example, Dr Burns says: ‘Fever is the body’s response to the virus. Increasing body temperature can inactivate the virus.’

When you get an infection, as well as white cells your body also activates other systems including cytokines (chemical messengers) and the complement system (a series of proteins designed to kill infections).

These trigger inflammation and can cause symptoms like redness, warmth, swelling, pain. So your runny nose is actually caused by a local inflammatory response to the virus.”

So it’s as simple as that. My body was tired from fighting the infection. I guess the easiest answer is sometimes the correct one.

We have been so busy being sick in my house that we’ve ignored both Easter and Passover this year. I hope you haven’t and if you celebrate, it’s been a warm, family oriented celebration for you.

By the way, we have our very first grandchild – a boy – who was born March 30th. You’re right. Of course we have to have a book give away to celebrate! Be the first to wish us Mazel Tov – that means congratulations or best wishes in Yiddish – and win yourself a copy of SlowItDownCKD 2016. As usual, the contest is only open to those who haven’t won a book giveaway before.

I have a friend, one very dear to my heart, who also ends her missives to me with, “Blessed be, my friend.” I don’t think she’d mind my sharing that sentiment with you.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Congratulations on the birth of your first grandchild!!! How exciting!

    • Thank you, Donna. We are over the moon!

      Since you are a former book giveaway winner, I really appreciate your not using the magic word.I like that you agree about sharing the wealth, so to speak.

  2. Gail hope your feeling better that nasty stuff likes to hold on and congratulations on the arrival of your grandson, wishing Mom and baby well.

    • Thanks, Pamela. The silver lining of being sick is that I have all the time I want to engage in FaceTime and look at the pictures of the little guy.


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