In early March I caught the flu. I completely lost my appetite. I didn't want to eat anything. On March 8th I felt so bad that I requested a home visit from the GP. She said that this year in the local community the flu seemed to be worse in the patients who had had the flu jab. She prescribed Tamiflu. This was the worst I have ever felt from the flu virus. Five days later on a slow recovery I had a GPA flare up.
I was in a sorry state. I couldn't co-ordinate my movements properly and I had a bad chest infection. Sent for GP who organised an ambulance and so to St James' Hospital. Five days of tests and drugs, and I began to feel better.
I still had a lot of phlegm on my lungs and I was continually coughing it up. In the previous weeks I had been using a Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) device called an 'Acapella' to help clear the phlegm. It worked after a fashion but not very deeply. While in hospital I was seen by a Physiotherapist who wanted to try another PEP device. This was a 'Pari-o-Pep' mucus device. Both these devices work on the same principle. As you blow into it, the device raises a steel ball to stop the air flow from your lungs, this allows the phlegm to drop back and then the ball releases and the air flow is restarted. This is a very quick vibrationary movement and it causes the phlegm to be dislodged and to move up the airways.
I think my Physiotherapist got a bit carried away; she kept telling me to blow harder and harder and then to cough. I started coughing and couldn't stop. It became uncontrollable. I was coughing up some phlegm, but more to the point, I had just had my lunch and I vomited. So I was uncontrollably coughing phlegm and vomiting at the same time. This went on for about five minutes before I could stop, by which time I had pulled the rib muscles in my chest on both sides, and I couldn't get a proper breath. The pain was pretty bad. The Physio made a discreet exit saying we would continue tomorrow!
The outcome of this was that I suffered from breathlessness. It feels as though a large piece of phlegm had moved up my main airway only to become lodged somewhere in my mid-chest.
Due to my 'reduced' appetite I had lost one and a half stone. I was put on a high calorie diet, but I didn't want anything. Eating for the sake of eating without pleasure is not nice.
Although my breathlessness was still there, my blood oxygen level was ok (for me) and I was discharged feeling a lot better.
During the intervening weeks until present day I have struggled with the breathlessness. I have seen an ENT surgeon with possible thoughts of stretching the trachea, but to no account. The surgeon said that with the condition of my vocal cords, no repair strategy is without a lot of risk. So no relief there. I am trying to come to terms that it could be like this for the rest of my life.