Flashbacks of asthma attacks.

Recently I have found most nights I wake myself up having had a nightmare about previous asthma attacks. Nightmare might be the wrong word to use but then flashback is not quite right either. I recollect so vividly some of the scariest asthma attacks I have had. Many of which I have never really remembered much about until recently from having these weird dream type things. There are 4 different attacks which are reoccurring in my dreams so often. I keep waking up in a cold sweat, breathless and terrified as I relive those episodes.

A couple of the attacks I have written about but the other 2 I have not. I am going describe the attacks as perhaps by writing them down they will not haunt me in my dreams.

The first attack is from 10 years ago. I was out in Fernie, BC in Canada supposed to be having the time of my life. The whole trip was a little bit eventful from the start after getting a stress fracture in my shin but then things went smoothly until I got pneumonia. What started as a cold developed very quickly into a nasty infection. I first felt short of breath so had my nebuliser but this didnt help at all. The rep who was with the group of us was a local to Fernie so I was taken to the hospital. I got pretty ill very quickly. I deteriorated so quickly that I needed to go to intensive care but it was felt the intensive care was not specialised enough in Fernie which is a pretty small town so I was to go to intensive care in Calgary a 4 hour drive away. I was too sick to be put in an ambulance so the Air Ambulance was called and I was packed up and flew in a helicopter to Calgary. The trip was just under an hour I think. My two recollection of the trip was having really tight headphones on and someone talking to me all the time. The other thing was the sleeping bag type thing they put me in…it was like a bear hugger sort of thing and bright orange. I look back now and think that it must have been an amazing view flying over the mountain- but at the time that was the last thing on my mind. I only recall up to the point of arriving in what I assume was the rests department. I recall all these hands on me and faces leaning over me, terrified and all I wanted was my Dad. I do remember very clearly them calling him and he was put on loud speaker over the whole room. It felt like he was there in the room. After that I don’t remember anything until I was discharged from hospital. I wonder if dreaming more about this if more memories will come back to me from that experience. It is strange the small things you remember.

One of the other attacks I keep dreaming about is from when I was in Winchester. It seemed like just a normal attack. Took the normal trajectory, treated with the normal concoction of drugs and I was taken to the ward just as normal. I was in a  side room. I knew the staff well. One of the staff commented that I was unusually quiet. I recall the next thing was having a bag and mask on my face and being held down. I was then in ITU on Bipap trying my best to keep breathing. I keep recalling that the nurse looking after me had odd crocs on one orange and one purple which is the strangest thing to remember.

The other 2 attacks which I keep recalling in my dreams are both from times in Edinburgh and both when I was in ward 118 (Intensive Therapy Unit) in the Royal. These two have been a lot more vivid which I am trying to process myself so once i have I will write about them.

I felt lost as to why I was having these dreams/nightmares/flashbacks now and I think it is to do with some of the reading I have been doing recently of patient experiences and also about proposed research into severe asthma attacks. For as long as I an remember my coping mechanism for attacks has been to not remember. I don’t think I actively block it all out my mind but somehow I do perhaps in my subconscious. What I am remembering terrifies me and this is just a very select number of attacks. I have so many hospital admissions I have lost count and a lot I presume are pretty harrowing. The positive side of me hopes that by processing all this might mean I deal with attacks differently and cope with them better. I am not sure. Only time will tell.

Just now my breathing is pretty rubbish. Each day is a real struggle. Walking makes me feel like I have run up a flight of stairs only gaining light relief from my inhaler and heavily relying on my nebuliser to see me through. To keep this at bay I have turned everything up to full 40mg pred, lots of nebs, lots of PEP, physio, inhalers and pain control!!! Fingers crossed this will see it all through!

4 thoughts on “Flashbacks of asthma attacks.

  1. Oh no, good luck with keeping it at bay! I hate recalling the scariest moments in dreams or daydreams etc. but it can’t be helped. It definitely proves to me that I’m not as calm and in control of everything as I believe I am. I hope the memories go and give you a break, especially as it sounds like you’re having a rubbish enough time as it is! X

    1. Thanks Jo for your comments and support!!! I hope your doing better and get home soon. The main issue I have with my asthma (well one of the issues) is that it is so unpredictable. One moment doing something your fine but then maybe days later or something you do the same thing and wham…big attack!!!

  2. Jess

    Reading this is so close to home, after all I’ve been through but not all asthma related. I have relived the scary times in dreams and wondered if it’s your brain trying to process what you don’t remember, like filling in the gaps. I suffer with functional neurological disorder which is physical symptoms based on psychological problems, this apparently is due to all the recent trauma and not dealing with it at the time. It can be hard to relive these times so we are all guilty of brushing it under the carpet and say I’m over that now I want to move on. Being so close to death is unbelievably hard to deal with, until people have experienced it they will never truly understand these feelings. Having people who have experienced similar stuff and being able to talk to likeminded folk helps no end, your an inspiration and will always be somebody I know I can turn to, thanks x

    1. I never used to talk about attacks and wether I did it consciously or subconsciously I would forget about what happened during attacks. This I have learned has done me no favours so I ma trying to blog about it or write about it. I think thats one of the main reasons I takes photos during attacks a) as a way to distract and b) as a way to remember what has actually happened. There are some photos I have which I have no idea where I was or when!!! Finding the right people to talk to is a hard battle I have found. Friends like yourself are great as you truly understand but then you get those who think they have the worst asthma in the world and won’t understand or be supportive but will compete or say you haven’t got it that bad because of x,y or z. I find with asthma it is all relative to your own experiences. The worst asthma attack or other incident ever for one person may not be for another and it is recognising that and offering support is where you really make a difference. Take care huni x

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