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!

The Flu Flew By

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and get the flu.  You’ll be in crowds at your holiday parties, even in stores when you get your shopping done. Everyone’s got to eat, even Scrooge, so you will be in the markets – and crowds – whether you want to be or not.

Uh-oh, so what do you do about the flu? According to Dec. 3, 2012’s MedPage, the flu has arrived early this year.  Bah! Humbug! Just in time for the holiday season.

“The flu season is officially under way about a month earlier than usual, the CDC announced on a call marking the beginning of National Influenza Vaccination Week. {For your information, that was Dec. 2-8 this year} ‘This is the earliest regular flu season we’ve had in nearly a decade, since the 2003-2004 flu season,’ CDC director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said on a conference call with reporters.”Shoppers1

Who even knew there was a National Influenza Vaccination Week? You can read a bunch of statistics about this early flu season at: http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/URItheFlu/36225?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&xid=NL_DHE_2012-12-04&eun=g596983d0r&userid=596983

Reminder: as a chronic kidney disease patient, you already have a compromised immune system.  Help yourself to avoid the flu by getting that vaccine.  In some cases (you’ll have to ask health care worker if you are part of this group), you may be able to take the nasal vaccine.  This is especially helpful if you have a great dislike for injections, but if you can’t because you have ckd, just look away during the shot.  That has been proven to make it easier to handle the fear, as I wrote about in an earlier blog.

By the way, Medicare covers the cost of the flu shot.

So, again I ask what do you do about the flu? According to Healthfinder.gov, you can protect yourself from the flu by doing the following:

Getting the flu vaccine is the most important step in protecting yourself from the flu. Here are some other things you can do to keep from getting and spreading the flu:

  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Try not to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze

The entire article about the flu may be found at: http://healthfinder.gov/prevention/ViewTopicFull.aspx?topicID=18

Most of this sounds fairly obvious. But then Bear told me about someone at work who simply sneezes and coughs into the air around him. That got me to thinking.  Do you find yourself shying away from certain people who do the same?  Maybe you should.

Since the cataract surgery and the sealing off of my tear ducts, I am always touching my eyes to wipe away the extra moisture. Until I read this article, I’d always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t keep touching my face.  But that’s not true, is it?

And how many people in this economy really do take off from work for 24 hours after their fevers break?  Who can afford to do that? We have people struggling to hang on to minimum wage positions while a string of other people are ready and waiting for these same jobs.

It’s worth thinking about this yourself.  Remember when we were taught to cough or sneeze into the inside of our elbows?  Looks like that’s not as effective as stopping the particulate spray immediately at its source – your nostrils.  Makes sense to me.

We live in Arizona.  It’s so dry we try NOT to wash our hands since that dries out the skin.  I’m not saying we’re a dirty demographic, simply that we try to wash our hands only when necessary. That is not often, but it needs to be during flu season.

fluBut have hope!  According to Rob Stein on NPR’s Health News, “One big difference between this year and the 2003-2004 season is that so far the vaccine appears to be a very good match for the strains of flu that are circulating most widely. That’s important because one of the reasons officials are concerned is that one of the strains is similar to the 2003-2004 strain that caused so much illness and so many deaths.”

I think that’s good news.  It sounds like good news.  Is it good news? Why DID the 2003-2004 strain cause so much illness and so many deaths?  Somehow, that’s not as reassuring as I’d like it to be.

The original article is at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/12/07/166745954/unusually-early-flu-season-intensifies?ft=1&f=103537970

I wondered how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu.  Since being diagnosed with ckd, I make it a point to take the flu vaccine annually, yet there have been times when I just didn’t feel that well. I found my answer in the following: http://abcnews.go.com/health/t/blogEntry?id=17885194

“ ‘With influenza you might also feel very poorly, with aches and pains in your muscles and joints,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. ‘There’s often a cough, too, which is much more prolonged and pronounced.’ ”

That does answer my question.  No muscular aches or pains, so what I experienced was just a cold.

Don’t let yourself become run down with the festivities this year, take the time to relax, maybe even put your feet up and read What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease. It’s available in digital – which is less expensive than the book – and print at Amazon.com and B&N.com.

You’ll be in good company.  I’ve gotten notice that personal trainers, doctors, medical assistants, phlebotomists, physicians’ assistants, chiropractors, naturopaths and gym owners have been reading it to understand how better to deal with their clients (or patients, as the case may be) who have CKD.  What a nice holiday present for me.

Here’s my wish that you had a Happy Chanukah and/or are happily preparing for Christmas and Kwanzaa.

Until next week,2012-12-12 19.41.37-1

Keep living your life!