I'm Not Going to Miss the Nickname "Wheezer"
November 02, 2014

Driving to work clouds.

That outpatient procedure that turned into an overnight stay at the hospital I mentioned in my last post? That was me.

For the past, oh, two years or so, I've had a breathing problem. Sitting at my desk, or anywhere else, no problem. Once I started doing something beyond that, well, I could still breathe, but not well. Doing stuff around the house (cleaning, vacuuming, etc.) had me out of breath pretty quick. Walking up stairs was not fun, and it would take me a while to recover. I couldn't walk around and hold a normal conversation, I'd need to stop and gasp for air. And there would be coughing and some wheezing during all of this. As my breathing was getting worse, I stopped doing anything active because it was so taxing, especially if there were other people around. I was embarrassed by how much huffing, puffing and coughing I was having to do.

I was sure it was adult asthma. Because what else could it possibly be? I had so many of the symptoms when I looked it up. So I tried a rescue inhaler from my doctor and it did...nothing. Didn't help at all.

Finally I went to a respiratory specialist, which started a chain of events:

  • breathing test before and after asthma medication (no change)
  • CT scan (showed there might be something around my trachea)
  • brochoscopy (camera down my throat to confirm that there was webbing around my trachea)

The webbing that they found had made the opening in my trachea much smaller than it was supposed to be. So yeah, definitely NOT asthma. It's probably something I was born with but just starting to cause me problems in the past couple of years.

So a week and half ago, I went in for an outpatient procedure to remove some of this webbing. I was completely under anesthesia, but near the end of the procedure, while there were a bunch of tubes down my throat, I took a breath and ended up with subcutaneous emphysema. It's something that can happen during endoscopy procedures, and it usually clears up on its own, but the surgeon wanted to keep me overnight in the ICU for observation.

While an overnight stay was completely unexpected, I'm glad they did it because it didn't feel great to have air trapped in my chest and under my skin. Thankfully, by the next morning, a lot of the air had been reabsorbed and I was feeling much better, so they sent me home.

It's taken me a over a week to feel fully recovered from all of this but I'm also happy to report that the procedure worked, and I can breathe! I can go for a walk like a normal person, I'm taking the stairs again at work, and I even went to a yoga class on Friday. I may even try a pilates class in a couple of weeks. BECAUSE I CAN BREATHE!

Who wants to go for a walk?



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© Whitney Brandt-Hiatt: All writing, images, and photogrpahy are the property of Whitney Brandt-Hiatt unless otherwise noted.