Cold War

I’m tempting fate talking about this, but it has been exactly two years since I have had bronchitis and/or a cold (they usually went together for me). I would say, in my old life, on average, I used to get a cold about once a year. I never paid much attention, though. As I’ve said before, it was never a big deal to get a cold and most restaurant employees would have to be on death’s door to miss a shift. I would joke that I might faint or go into anaphylactic shock or grow thyroid goiters, but I wouldn’t catch a cold.

Once I got sick with ME/CFS, I went through my medical records with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to find some clue to solve the mystery of my illness ~ that’s why I know the exact dates of my last cold. I had returned from Ireland a few weeks before (I think now, will that be the last time I am there?) and made an appointment with an allergist to ask about my eye and tongue swelling which had been going on during my visit home, plus a bad episode of pre-syncope. He had diagnosed me with autoimmune angioedema and urticaria by injecting my own plasma under my skin and watching a HUGE welt emerge. Great, I love being allergic to my own blood.

I then worked 11 days in a row and, as the weekend arrived, the bronchitis hit. It lasted two weeks and, although I finally went to the doctor, I didn’t take the antibiotics or steroids she gave me and I didn’t take any days off work. My father visited over the weekend that the infection was tapering off ~ we had a lovely time ~ and then I worked a few more weeks before flying to Virginia and getting sick with viral gastroenteritis that landed me in the ER, getting fluids. A few months later, the flu shot triggered this new life. No wonder that vaccination was the straw to break my immune system’s back! This is the message I want to get out: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY! HEED THE WARNINGS!

Anyway, there are very thin, very pale silver linings to my situation and I search for them daily, in an endless quest for gratitude and acceptance. This week I think, Two whole years without a cough or congestion or phlegm or wheezing! I try not to think, Yeah, but who cares when I’ve had endless flu for 21 of those months? I would prefer to be sick with bronchitis every day of the year than live with a disease that does not allow you TO EXPEND ENERGY. But I don’t go there. I know one day I will have to contend with a cold on top of ME and, until that day comes, I am going to be very, very grateful that my lungs and nasal cavities are clear.

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10 thoughts on “Cold War

  1. Listen to your body! Oh my gosh that is what I tell myself constantly because, like you, I ignored my poor sick body for a long time before eventually collapsing with ME, it was another very bad flu that was the final straw for me. I had an awful cold in April and during that I remember saying I just want to have ME again, it’s a walk in the park compared to cold + ME. So keep doing whatever you’re doing to avoid a cold! Do you think you could have caught your last cold on the flight back from Ireland? I’m pretty sure I caught my cold in April on my flight to the US. I’m flying to France tomorrow, maybe i should be taking a mask with me…

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    • Jackie says:

      I agree having the flu, cold, or any sort of infection takes being chronically ill from barely tolerable to absolutely unbearable. This week at the treatment center, I learned this is because we tend to have Autonomic Nervous Systems stuck in sympathetic mode most of the time (which causes tons of symptoms). Infections make a healthy person’s ANS go more into sympathetic mode… so we are kind of screwed when you combine the extra push into sympathetic mode with the extra energy fighting off an infection takes. Sigh.

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      • E. Milo says:

        I love your posts on the ANS. I made my husband read them. I have been doing my diaphragmatic breathing, I’m trying to regulate my waves (!) and decrease my HR. I took pictures of my regular versus blood-pooled feet and I’m going to write a post about that (I’ll give you a shout out ;)). Thank you for documenting your journey!

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    • E. Milo says:

      Wear a mask! I have no shame anymore. I’ve taken one flight since I’ve been sick and I just straight up told the guy next to me,”I’m not sick, I’m just paranoid of getting sick.” He said, “doesn’t bother me at all. In Japan you would fit right in.” Then he closed his eyes and went to sleep. I was so grateful that he didn’t bat an eye. Nobody did, honestly. Think of all the cancer or transplant patients that have to protect their immune systems – they would wear masks. And think about how grateful you would be not to be exposed to germs if someone who was sick wore a mask.

      When my mother came to visit, she wore a scarf that she had soaked in tea tree oil and water and let dry over night. She kept it over her mouth and nose for much of the trip.

      Good luck flying and have fun on your trip!!

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  2. Jackie says:

    You’re so right that looking back, there are often signs we missed that are now crystal clear.

    You’re an amazingly positive woman for being able to go through what you do each day and still be grateful for not having had a cold. I’m going to be honest and tell your readers that you would be a happy woman if you woke up one day, and someone told you all of these current symptoms are gone, but you’ll have a cold the rest of your life. At least I am pretty sure that is the case.

    I believe you’ll eventually get to feeling a little better and you WILL go to Ireland again.

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    • E. Milo says:

      Yep, a permanent cold for the rest of my life would be a cake walk compared to this last year. Thank you for knowing that. I don’t feel very positive, so your comment means a lot.

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      • Jackie says:

        You’re entitled to feel not that positive. You are very sick and you are entitled to mourn the loss of the life you had, and had planned. I find when I let myself have a “why me” day where all I do all day is mope and cry, I am good to go for another month or two. Just know you are a very inspiring woman. You are strong, smart, and determined so I know you’ll get through this and feel more positive again soon.

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  3. You absolutely will get to Ireland again, there’s no way this land will let you forget it! As for the cold, my gosh, touch wood, you are lucky. Last Christmas I battled ME/ a crash / and a headcold. It was possibly the hardest week or ten days I had to live with and just as I overcame the cold i went and had a bad crash again, i bet the crash was due to my body fighting the cold along with the ME. Keep your fingers crossed. I wont let anybody sick near me and like you said to journeythrume, who cares what others think? If looking silly for a moment means avoiding more ill health its worth it!!! As for listening to your body, needless to say… i have a similar story as to how how my ME arrived. Am working on that blog now! And remember… Ireland and your family will get to see you again πŸ™‚

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    • E. Milo says:

      Aw, thank you so much for your encouragement! It means a lot. I try so hard to keep my thoughts absolutely positive (I WILL go back to Ireland) as opposed to absolutely negative (I’ll never see home again).

      I am so sorry you had such an evil time over Christmas, oh it makes me shudder! You came out of that dip back to your “normal” baseline, though, right? That’s what we have to keep in mind… πŸ™‚

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      • Positivity rules!! Ya Christmas was horrific to be honest, but its in the past, thankfully!! I did get over it but I never fully returned to my baseline, I possibly returned to 98% and feel it left is mark, but its a small mark and I know I am lucky πŸ™‚

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