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!