... or whatever it is you actually are.
But cold air induced, cough variant asthma is the best diagnosis any doctor, other person, or internet has ever given me. Suggested by a co-worker, I spent way-too-much time trying to find information on the internet. There wasn't much. But it's a much better fit than the "I don't know" that most doctors have given me.
Every winter I have severe coughing fits. Severe as in people who aren't familiar with them will ask me (seriously) if I need them to call for help, or if I am dying.
For me, they are just a part of life. See, I had my first major coughing fit when I was nine months old. I was hospitalized for it, before given a diagnosis of bronchitis, a diagnosis that would follow me for the rest of my life, but that I no longer believe to be accurate.
These fits start right about the first cold spell of the year, and end with the last. I mean, I don't have them every single day of the winter, but... enough.
The longest run that I remember was the year in my early 20s when they started in September and lasted thru March. That was a rough year.
And this happening-during-the-winter thing resulted in me being wrongly diagnosed with an allergy to "furnace dust" (whatever that is) for several years when I was a child. Although I see why it sorta made sense - they started about the time the furnace had to be turned on, and stopped right about the time it got warm enough to turn it off.
During my school days I usually ended up missing at least a week-ish of school during the winter months, but it was really more due to exhaustion than the actual coughing, as to get any sleep at all I have to sleep sitting up, which isn't truly restful, and after doing that for weeks... well, something's gotta give.
And that's where I found myself about a month ago. In the middle of my first coughing fit spell of the year, I spent four of the five nights sleeping sitting up in the recliner. And ready to pass out by mid-afternoon. It's exhausting.
But I digress. I do continue to work (in [many] years past school), as my parents came to realize early on that whatever this is, doesn't appear to be contagious, as no one, no one, around me has ever gotten it, including family or close friends. Ever.
And since I went to the same fairly small school for K thru 12, it means that the staff was fairly familiar too, so no one ever tried to send me home. At least not that I recall.
What it does mean though, is that throughout the winter months, if I happen to catch so much as a sniffle, I'm done for. For weeks. So yes, I am that person that gets really annoyed when people come to work snotting all over telephones and door handles. Because your minor cold will set me back for weeks.
Anywho... asthma does run in my family. Like, the normal kind anyway. So the asthma thing does kinda make sense. And having had pleurosy twice during frigid winter months and being told that my lungs are sensitive to cold air and I should make sure I'm breathing through a scarf when walking in freezing temperatures... well, that seems to back up the cold-air-induced thing. And clearly it would have to be cough-variant, as the only sort of wheezing involved is when the coughing fit lasts so long that I am sucking in air to fill my lungs back up.
Random, but have you ever coughed so hard that your body bends into itself, so when the coughs repeat you almost look like you're having some weird seizure? No? Just me? Moving on then...
Oh, and while advice is appreciated, because I understand their good intentions, telling me to take cough syrup or Nyquil... well, I mean... c'mon, do you seriously think that in 34 years I never thought of that? The fact is that cough suppressants of any type have minimal, if any, effect. Honestly I'm better off taking a sleeping pill to get some rest, than trying to contain the cough at all.
But, in reality, the fact is that I am blessed. Oh sure, this really sucks. But at the same time, like I mentioned before, for me it's really just a way of life. The only time it really sucks is when people stare at me, or when it truly interrupts others' lives, like my family.
But luckily my husband and my daughter both sleep like rocks. So that's not really an issue most of the time. And all of my family, and friends who have been around long enough, realize what it is and how to ignore it because no, I am not gonna die. And most of my co-workers have been there long enough to realize that not only am I not contagious, it sounds worse than it is, and no, I am not gonna die.
So, for the most part, it is simply an annoyance for me for a few months of the year. And an occasional embarrassment, when I come across someone who is not familiar with my condition (whatever it actually is).
The only thing I do worry about is FireGirl. It appears that she has inherited this condition (whatever it really is). The good thing is that for her, it appears to be much better controlled when we keep the temp in the house at least 72 degrees during the winter months. Which is much warmer than we did before she came along, and raises our heating bill a bit, but well worth it.
Of course, that only adds to the cold-air-induced theory, doesn't it?
So that's that. And now you know a little bit more about me. Thanks for checking in.