It is now 4 days since I escaped hospital following a 16 day capture. I know from past experience that this stage of my recovery from what was a bad exacerbation is a strange and frustrating one.
Unless you have suffered from a bad asthma attack and have have had lengthy hospital admissions you may not be aware what the recovery process is like. Some people may know what goes on during a severe asthma exacerbation, but very little about what occurs after. What a lot of people, including some doctors and nurses (though they do now seem to have a better understanding) don’t often appreciate, is that once the initial asthma attack / flare up is over, the hard work has only just begun. The belief is that once you get past the acute phase of an asthma flare up and your breathing becomes more stable and / or returns to normal and everything is fine again. Trust me, in my experience this is not the case.
No matter how many of these severe exacerbations, attacks, flare ups and hospital admissions I go through, (dozens at the last count), it’s always the post hospital recovery period that I find the most difficult and frustrating. Though the days at home immediately following an escape might not be as dramatic, worrying or as scary as the initial attack itself but they aren’t easy, mentally or physically they are hard work, they are long days and I am so restricted in what I can do. I know that this happens following every attack and admission, yet it is only during these first few days of so called freedom that I appreciate that the journey back to full health and recovery is long, frustrating and painful one. I don’t walk out of the hospital after a bad episode and go straight back to doing the normal day to day stuff (even though that’s what I want, and psychologically probably need).
After a bad asthma exacerbation and what it takes out of me, both mentally and physically, all of the medications used to treat and stabilise me, the fact that I have gone days or weeks without leaving a bed, and that I usually don’t sleep much in hospital, they all combine to leave my body weak and breathless for weeks after the initial attack. In addition to this (as I have written about previously) I suffer from “after shocks” which are basically smaller, less serious attacks in the days or weeks following the initial serious attack, add in to the mix that with every attack I have and the older I become, the strain upon me increases and each subsequent episode takes that much longer to recover from. The recovery period is always a bumpy one.
One thing that often happens when I return home is I become unwell, I seem to be more prone to picking up infections and bugs, whether this is due to change of environment, a result of something I picked up in hospital, because I am run down and / or reducing meds I am not sure, but it often happens. This time is no different, I am full of cold which is obviously having a negative effect on my asthma (when I least need it). I come home on an emotional high and there are times (even despite this bug) when I feel like I’m starting to breathe better, only to be cancelled out by a string of really bad days. It’s not just a physical recovery, steroids can really mess with your head making your feel great one minute, and a sobbing emotional wreck the next. My mood swings can’t be nice for my wife either, she should be delighted that I am home (I think she is) but at times she just wish I was back in hospital because of my moods.
I haven’t really done anything in the 4 days since I escaped, I haven’t left the house (apart from for 2 medical appointments, both of which I was driven to), I am just sitting and laying around the house, I’m still not sleeping well, I’m still on back to back nebs, I still have no energy and despite me been desperate to return to normal life and leaving the house, returning to work, getting back watching Scunthorpe United and even going to the pub with my mates, it all seems a long way off.
I even managed to break my CPAP machine over the weekend and I had to manage without until I got it back to the hospital on Monday, as of yet I haven’t broken the replacement one!
I have things that I need to do, I need to arrange a meeting with Occupational Health over the next week or so to try and formulate a plan to return to work. The trouble is that I am not sure how long this recovery period is going to take.
The length and severity of this recovery phase varies for everybody. For me, it’s usually determined by how severe the initial attack was, how many days I spent in the hospital and then there is the prednisolone effect, as I try to reduce my dose, my blood sugars will become harder to control, I often have wild sugar level swings and numerous hypo’s which then also slow my recovery and further delay my return to work.
I spoke to my GP this morning, he thought that it could take uptown another 4 weeks before I am back to my usual self, I am hoping for a slightly shorter recovery time.
Im grateful for the medical care I receive when I am in hospital, but all they really do is to stabilise me. There is no real after sales, when I am stable and my sats have improved, I can go home. I then gave try to manage, if I can’t I come back in, if I cope I will be seen as an outpatient in a couple of weeks time. We might play with my medication occasionally but ultimately I will be back in hospital eventually and we will start the process all over again. It might not happen until tomorrow, next week, next month or next year, I don’t know when, but it will happen.
This may seem like another long and miserable moan, maybe I am just feeling a bit down (again) but at least I am back home and that is a far better place than where I was last week. I am trying to stay positive and as I have already said, the roller coaster journey following this last attack and admission still has some distance left to travel and I as I already know, there are going to be a few more ups and downs along the way. I need time, I need rest but at some stage I will need gradually start to push myself in an effort to get off of this roller coaster (for the time being at least).
Thanks for reading and for your continued support.