Being Sick when you are Chronically Ill

sickduckI’m sure it’s not the same for everyone who has a chronic illness, but for me, being sick on top of it is very hard to deal with.

First when you get sick, you often have to distinguish if your symptoms might be from part of your chronic illness or illnesses.  That can be very difficult sometimes.  I often feel like I’m catching a cold but it goes away in a few days, so for those few days I don’t know if I’m really “sick” on top of things or not.  I also have a lot of gastrointestinal issues due to food allergies and intolerances, it’s really hard to know if I have caught a bug or if I simply got a hold of something I shouldn’t have eaten.  This can be very disturbing sometimes, and it can make me less likely to seek medical attention for things until it has been going on for a while.

(a lot of this post is a recap of what has been happening with me the past few months.  Please feel free to skip this narration, I felt I needed a place to put it all in one place.  The major points I want to make are in bold at the bottom.  thanks for understanding…and if you read everything, you are an amazing person.  *smiles*   It took me three days to write this, between feeling icky and having a vertigo spell….so please forgive any errors…grammar, punctuation, spelling, even train of thought…yes brain fog is heavy these days.  thank you my dear friends.)


I’ve written about how sick I’ve been over the last few months….I mean really sick, on top of my chronic conditions…what a mess.  But I’d like to give you a run down of what happened and how I think I really goofed up and made this hang on longer than it had to.

The third week of October both Stuart and I caught colds, it delayed our leaving for Tucson by a week.  At the end of the cold I had this nagging cough hanging on, I’d heard from many people who live near us that they too had been suffering from colds that seemed to hang on for weeks with a cough, so I wasn’t so worried.  We started our trek across country, my breathing got worse, especially when we’d stop for the night.  I assumed I was having a lot of allergies erupting on top of everything.  Often our hotel rooms had a perfume smell, air fresheners, and one smelled like someone broke a bottle of cologne in the bathroom (we did ask to move from that room, but there was a convention in town and no more rooms were available).  We would have researched and found more allergy free accommodations for me, but those places would not allow cats, and Max needed a place too.  We do however always make sure we have a no-smoking room.

By the time we got to Tucson I was having a very hard time with the cough and breathing issues, but again, thought it was more allergies.  I felt that most of the stuff was coming from my nose…but I was wrong, that was only part of it.  Soon after we got here I started having severe vertigo attacks…Meniere’s was not kind to me.  I know the trip took a lot out of me,and I hadn’t been watching my salt intake as much as I should I just thought my one of my chronic illnesses was in acute mode.  I still didn’t think I was really sick, sick.  (big mistake)  In the back of my head I knew I should go to the doctor for the cough, but I was so busy going to the doctor about my ears….and the holidays were upon us, it’s pretty hard to get in to a doctor as a new patient that time of year…so I thought I’d wait.  (again, not a good idea)  I continued to get sicker, no energy, coughing more, not being able to take a deep breath…..ect.  I did not get to enjoy one bit of the holidays (oh how I wanted a family holiday gathering, but I spent all of it in bed).  Finally, I told Stuart to, “Yes, please call and see if you can get me in to see a doctor.”  (he’d asked many times before and I said no, really I thought it was allergies, ragweed was in full bloom here when we got here, and the house we are staying in had been empty for a long time so lot’s of dust…I didn’t think the doctor would be able to do much more than I was.  Yes, I know…silly girl treating herself, but every spring I have severe allergies at home and I’m put on Flonaze, and 2 antihistamines.  So I did that, I was also taking an expectorant to break up the mucus and get it out….really all good things, and the doctor agreed, but I needed more.  And the Flonaze was causing me to have miserable nose bleeds. so that stopped.)

First trip to the doctor, (don’t you love a first trip to a new doctor, explaining all the reasons for your medications, all the things you have going on….ugh!  She actually said I was a very happy person for having so much going on with me.  I thought, well I could show the sad, depressed side of chronic illness all the time, but who would that help?  I may be ill, but I’m still a good person.)  I found out my minor Asthma (I haven’t had but a few attacks in the past 20 years or more, and only when I’ve been around strong allergens or perfumes.) has turned out to be pretty serious.  And I have Bronchitis…the Asthma probably got so bad because of the Bronchitis….and allergens.  So antibiotics, and a steroid….call in 10 days if not all better.  Stuart called after about 7 days because I was worse.  Ironic thing…my doctor had just gotten out of the hospital with pneumonia.  Actually scared me a bit, what if I had pneumonia…many of the symptoms were there, even the cold chills.  But then I laughed at myself…I had the pneumonia vaccine in May, I had to have it before I could get my Cochlear Implant. (that’s what I get for trying to diagnose myself with just the internet.  We can get some clues from there, but I’ve learned never to think it’s absolutely true for me.  Always consult a professional, or two.)  So I saw my doctor again on the 21st, 2 weeks from the first appointment.  Still not breathing well…ect, and my sinuses really hurt.  Diagnosis?  Still Asthma is going crazy, now bronchitis is considered chronic, and I have a sinus infection.   I was given a stronger antibiotic, prednisone (oh joy, more steroids), and I had a breathing treatment in the office with a nebulizer, for the first time in months I could breath, it lasted for hours, I was thrilled.  I was told if the cough was not much, much better in 3 days to call back and I would get a nebulizer for home.  But that night I started coughing so hard I pulled a muscle in my back.  I couldn’t walk without being in severe pain, putting weight on my left leg was almost intolerable.  Thank goodness for my walker, but darn the fact that I haven’t found a bathroom door that my walker will fit through!  So, I could get from the bed to the bathroom, then hobble inside.  What a mess.  I didn’t sleep that night, stayed on heat and ice, and luckily the next day it was much better.  I still rested with ice and heat to insure it got even better, but I could walk with minor discomfort.

So…yesterday Stuart called the doctor’s office…after 3 days, to tell them I need a nebulizer.  (really, I can get a nebulizer, I need the medicine that goes in it)  Unfortunately, they close early on Friday, and didn’t get the prescription called in before the end of the day…so I have to wait until Monday.

Another thing that I’m having trouble with.  Migraines!  Did you guess?   I had very good results from the Botox injections, but they have worn off…I am looking forward to March 7th, when I can see my neurologist at home and have the injections again.  (deep sigh)  I’m having a hard time with pain medication.  I was taking Hydrocodone, but it started making me itch, I’m allergic to Codeine (at least I’m told I am, I had the allergic reaction when I was pretty young, I don’t remember, but why would it be wrong?), Oxycodone makes me stop urinating, I’m allergic to Celebrex (I know this one is right, I have the ER trips to prove it.), and all NSAIDS hurt my stomach (thanks to an old doctor who had me taking Ibuprofen by the handfuls).  Before I left N.C. my neurologist put me on Tramadol (Ultram), well it makes me itch too!  So I’m stuck without a pain reliever stronger than Tylenol.  It’s been rough.  (I do still have other migraine meds, but sometimes you need a pain reliever…when I pulled that muscle it would have come in very handy!)

This post has become MUCH longer than I’d planned. I needed to put all of this in one place, and I wanted to make a point…but I think my point may have gotten lost.  Here’s the summary of what I’d like for you to take from this post:

  • When you are Chronically Ill, you need to pay close attention when you get sick.  Do not assume it’s your “normal” ill feelings.
  • Do not put off going to the doctor, if you don’t have anything worse than a cold, what did it hurt? (Yeah, our doctors may think we come in too often, but really if our doctor thinks that we should probably find a new doctor.)  I’m sure we often feel we go to the doctor too much, but don’t play around with your health.  Don’t be scared because if you are out of town and not close to your doctor.  Who knows a fresh pair of eyes may be helpful in many ways.
  • Often when you have a Chronic Illness you have less resistance to fight off sicknesses, like the “common” cold, than healthy people.  I know my body works over time just to take care of me with my chronic illnesses, throw in getting sick and there just isn’t enough resistance in me to put up a good fight.  I should have known better, and gone to the doctor sooner.

So the biggest point I want to make.  Know your body.  Know how you feel on a day-to-day basis, if you get sick, pay very close attention and take care of you.  You are the only one who can say if you need to see a doctor.  But don’t be like me, please see a doctor before things escalate into a more serious sickness.

I know I will always listen closer to my body than I have the past few months.  Just because there are other things going on in my life doesn’t mean my symptoms aren’t something I should pay attention to!!



8 thoughts on “Being Sick when you are Chronically Ill

  1. Lisa Tomey

    Wendy, I look forward to seeing you when you get back home. And I am thinking of you and sending healthy vibes and oodles of hugs. Thank you for sharing. It is hard to know what is a part of being in the state of the regular diagnosis and the invading ones which are so rampant these days. Thank you for your wisdom and courage. xo


  2. You mean Dr. Google isn’t always right? I’m shocked. 🙂

    You’re so right, we do have to know our body and to not ignore our intuition. I hope the latest round of drugs helps. Hugs and healing thoughts going your way.


  3. Oh my gosh Wendy can only BEGIN to imagine what you’ve been through. I caught a cold and it went into my bronchials – coughing, not breathing etc.
    HOWEVER, my husband dragged me to the doctor (anti-biotics and steroids) and I don’t have all the other conditions you’ve had to deal with.
    There’s a nasty bug that keeps looking for warm bodies to live in. It was a bit consoling that at least my body is warm . . .
    Great post for everyone, including myself, who mixes chronic and acute.
    Feel better, do what the doctor says! It’s good she got pneumonia (and recovered) – makes her able to empathize better . . .



    Wendy, you are my hero! Thank you so much for your posts, I know how difficult it is to write all of that! It makes others with Meniere’s and other such annoyances feel better knowing that they are not alone. I have had several bad attacks since June, 2012. After working with my ENT and a few other ‘specialists’ I am now working with a chiropractor. I am having alot more good days than bad. My heart goes out to anyone with this whirlwind of a disease!


  5. Wendy, Sounds like you have been going through a nightmare. I think most of us with chronic illness just assume that anything we feel that is “off” is just our chronic disease. My hubby (like Stuart) is the one that has to drag me to the doctor. Hoping that you will feel better soon!


  6. Good post, Wendy! So sorry to hear of all your mis-adventures, though! Hoping that you are on the mend soon. I am lucky to not get ‘normal person’ sick very often, but I know there have been a few times that I thought I was just having an MM spell, but it was a flu! It is VIP to pay attention to our bodies – your points are all so good.

    Good luck! Hugs!!


  7. I hope everyone gets this. I finally received the nebulizer yesterday. So I’ve had 3 breathing treatments so far, and I am breathing better. My muscles are so sore in my back and chest from the coughing attacks. (funny, I feel like they were much more than coughing, considering I’d end up starting to black out from lack of oxygen, and thought I’d throw up…I really felt like each cough ended with a dry heave)

    I’m so glad everyone understood what I was trying to say in this post. I am not beating myself up over not getting to the doctor sooner. But I will be paying closer attention to the little signs my body is telling me and not think it’s just my chronic illnesses talking too loudly.

    Hugs to all of you my dear supportive friends. I’m so sorry I haven’t been a good friend lately. I look forward to catching up with all of you.


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