Sunday, June 15, 2008

On The Mend

I seem to have stumbled upon a new cure for an old problem.

I have chronic bronchitis. I'm a lifelong non-smoker, but pediatric asthma and an allergy to cigarette smoke (among other toxins in the air, I'm sure) has rendered my weakened respiratory system susceptible to regular bouts of this ailment. I usually only suffer from episodes every 18 months to two years or so, and I just had one in December. So I was surprised on Monday evening to feel my chest tighten up. In fact, I wasn't so much surprised as in complete denial as to what was going on.

However, by early Wednesday morning, when I awoke at 4 a.m. with a chest that felt like lead, I had to acknowledge what was happening.

Here's how this disease usually progresses. It starts with a virus and over the course of the first week gets worse and worse with me coughing and trying to clear lungs that won't clear. Supposedly it's just a cold at this stage, but there are never any other cold symptoms. Mornings and late evenings are the worst, but I'm pretty much miserable all day every day. After about a week and a half to two weeks, I trot over to the doctor's office for antibiotics to treat the bacteria which, by that time, has settled comfortably into my lungs as well. Once I get my drugs, everything clears up in a few days, and I'm good for another couple of years.

I took Wednesday and Thursday off from work, suspended all exercise (in my opinion, the most painful part of having respiratory disease) and officially set up a sick bay on my couch. It didn't seem to be too bad this time, but that's what I kept telling myself back in December, and that turned out to be one of the worst episodes in a while. However, there were a couple of tiny problems plaguing my recovery. For one thing, after two days on the couch, I was bored out of my mind. For another, the weekend was fast approaching, and I had social engagements to keep. In particular, Teenage Kicks, my very favorite monthly DJ night at the Attic, was happening on Friday. Tom, Carolyn, Andrey and I had already planned to go, and I just couldn't wrap my mind around missing it.

So I went back to work Friday morning and took it all one hour at a time. By Friday night I did have the inclination to just curl up in bed, but nothing was going to keep me from the music. I doubted I was still contagious; so I figured I could be congested at home or be congested while Victor, the host of Teenage Kicks, and Pete, the guest DJ that night, played me some music. I wouldn't drink, and I wouldn't stay out too late.

Ah, famous last words. At 2:30 in the morning, after three Chimays and lots of tunes, I realized that I was feeling better. My lungs were relatively clear, and while I was coughing, I wasn't coughing too much. Yesterday, that guarded feeling of well being continued. I'd lost my voice, but I still felt better. I even went to the gym, and a spell in the steam room there did not produce the coughing fits that would have come if I'd been terribly congested.

Could it be that this little virus is clearing up on its own before becoming bacterial, thus saving me a visit with a physician?

Well, I'm not counting on anything, as I am still a little congesty. And I certainly hope I haven't jinxed my recuperation by writing this. But as I continuously knock wood and hope to avoid a course of Zithromax, I can't help but believe that the music and beer on Friday might have done the trick. I primarily credit the music. Everyone knows that music heals all, no matter what ails you.

Including, perhaps, an issue that has nothing to do with my lungs.

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