Living With Respiratory Failure

About five years ago I was diagnosed with an asthma-like condition. It was treated with Salbutamol. This was not really effective but my problem was not serious at that time.

About three years ago, a friend lent me his pink inhaler Fostair. It was far more efficacious so I asked for Salbutamol to be removed from my prescription.

Soon after this I began needing paramedics to make interventions due to seemingly asthma attacks — when the respiratory system tightens and air cannot get in. These were fairly few but mainly in damp, cold, weather. This year I have needed more interventions than I can count.

All these vapors going through my mouth and throat mean I must drink after using my inhalers and after nebulizing by paramedics.

Now, I use so many inhalers that my sense of taste is almost gone. In May I was diagnosed as A Carbon Dioxide Retainer . This means I do not exhale all the carbon dioxide my body converts from oxygen. It is very dangerous.

I retain not just carbon dioxide but fluids. There is fluid on my heart and other organs. My blood oxygen hovers around 90, but may drop to 83 or be a high as 97. These are percentages. A healthy person’s blood oxygen is 100.

I have started buying sour sweets. The kind that are chewy and jelly like. They make my mouth water and I can taste them. Brushing my teeth with toothpaste does not help, so I use salt, or a flavorful leaf on my toothbrush.

I eat honey by the spoonful. It soothes my throat which is always sore. Honey soothes the skin of my throat as well as my mouth.

I am now Living With Hypoxia as a result of respiratory failure. It means my home needs prompts to remind me to do things and I keep my everyday things in the same place — my glasses, for example.

All this means I can make mistakes without realising. It also means I could go into a coma or die at anytime. I am very vulnerable. I am 5 on the New Scale, and sometimes 6 but I refuse to go hospital.

The police only term “vulnerable”, which is 3 on the New Scale. I find that shocking.

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Published in Coffee Times