Friday, February 24, 2012

One Rhino of a Virus

I have a cold.  Boy, howdy, do I have a cold.  This one is a doozy and truly earns the coveted title of Rhinovirus.  It was a very sneaky rhino, too, and came on seemingly overnight.  I woke up on Wednesday with a slightly scratchy throat but it was minor, and went away.  Thursday morning I was a little stuffy, but not bad.  By Thursday afternoon, however, my head started to feel like an overinflated water balloon.   And by last night, I couldn't breathe through my nose at all.

That's when I started to speak a totally different language than the rest of the human race.

"Carl, couldth you path me the tithueth? By does juth keepth runnig."

No, I'm not speaking Old English but I do sound a bit like Jabberwocky---

"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Did anyone else have difficulty deciphering that poem back in school?    Maybe Lewis Carroll had a head cold when he wrote it?

No, what I said to Carl was: "Could you pass me the tissues?  My nose just keeps running." 

Figures, doesn't it, that my snozz is running rampant and getting an amazing aerobic workout, but the rest of me doesn't feel like following suit.  My nose is now so sore I have resorted to nose plugs.  You've never heard of them?  Well, you can make your own right in the comfort of your home, just take a tithue (tissue) and wad it up your snout on the offending side (or sides).  Super attractive, let me assure you. 

And then bedtime.  We all know the rules.  Drink plenty of fluids and rest.   Ha ha.  I think those two recommendations are rather paradoxical.  How can you rest when you have to traipse your captive rhino to the restroom every hour or so?  I was so completely stuffed up last night that the only relief was mouth-breathing.    Though it might come as a surprise to some of you, being a mouth-breather is not my usual habit.  I have found the practice leads to a very dry mouth which, of course, is alleviated by drinking more water, which in turn leads to the Potty Trail.

And then, for those of you who may or may not remember...I am a sleep apnea patient.  Or Impatient, as the case may be.  My weapon of choice in my fight for breathing at night is a CPAP machine.   I've had slight congestion before and was pleasantly surprised to find the CPAP machine helps somewhat by providing continuous positive air pressure.  It's been over a year since I've had the machine and I always wondered what it would be like trying to sleep with a bad head cold.  Last night, I found out.

I donned my mask and tried to regulate my breathing as best I could.  I wear a full-face mask and mouth-breathing can be a bit of a problem with that.  After a few frenzied seconds of trying to get enough air in my lungs to satisfy my hunger for oxygen I found the bigger problem was exhaling.  I just couldn't do it.  To Carl, lying next to me trying to sleep, it must have sounded like a rhinoceros was at a water hole in the African jungle, snorking up water from a mud puddle.   After five minutes, I could 'sort of' breathe on one nostril but exhalation was impossible unless I opened my mouth and raised the mask.

Carl was serenaded with a "S...N....O.....R.......R.......K........!!!!   WHOOSH!  GASP! routine for just about an hour before I gave up. Even though he protested I should stay in bed, he needed his sleep.  I headed for the living room and the interwebs.

Somewhere out there in cyberland there had to be an answer to how to sleep with CPAP and a Rhino.

On I found a thread that was very helpful around 3AM this morning.  The suggestion was to raise the humidity level of my CPAP machine to the maximum and turn on the EPR.  For those of you who are not familiar with the lingo of the Sleep Apnea-challenged (you Lucky Dogs!!) EPR stands for Expiration Pressure Relief.  In other words, the machine backs off the air pressure so I could exhale more easily with each breath. 

Getting used to a CPAP is a long, drawn-out process, but I'm so glad I persevered with the machine.  It has made an amazing difference in my life, no more waking up with a horrible day-long headache, no traipsing to the bathroom five or six times a night, better thought clarity and the Dreams!  Oh, the I missed dreaming.  Every night when I strap that hideous contraption on my face, I settle down in my pillows and just wait for the show to begin.  I have some really wild adventures in my dreams.  They're a hoot.

But anyway, getting back to my tale, as soon as Carl left for work at 5AM (I know, such hours, poor guy!) I crawled back in bed, fiddled with the settings on my CPAP and finally, blissfully, fell asleep for four hours.  I woke up feeling much better, but the stuffage returned as soon as I unhooked the mask.  One look in the mirror confirmed the worst, this is definitely rhino-related.  I look just like one.  My nose is red, my face is swollen and one eye keeps tearing up.  Along with the V-shaped indentation from my sleep apnea mask, homemade nasal plug and mouth-breathing, yeah, I'm a sight to behold.


Look away........I'm hideous!!


Alison said...

Oh Karen, much sympathy! I've had colds like yours, where your nose just turns into a faucet, and you can't breathe or sleep. I'm so glad you found advice to help you sleep with both the cold and the CPAP machine. When I'm sick I tend to leave the bedroom for a recliner. It helps me sleep, and it gives Nigel relief from my tossing and turning.

Hope you feel better soon.

Pamela Gordon said...

Karen, I'm sorry you have such a bad cold and hope it'll soon be gone over the weekend. The CPAP is an amazing machine and it's incredible to think it actually saves lives! I've had a head cold since last Friday but haven't had too much problem breathing. Taking decongestant and nasal spray to help. I sound worse than I feel. Take care! Hugs, Pamela

FlowerLady said...

Oh dear Karen ~ Your sense of humor is a gift. Bless your heart. I hope you are soon over this horrible cold, and I hope Carl doesn't get it.

Love and hugs and get well wishes,

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

oh, bless your heart. Mucinex, my dear, Mucinex :-) Oh, and have you tried the Netti pot? If you haven't tried it, you should. It washes out your nasal passages. Can't wait to hear you describe that experience :-) Take care. I hope you can get some rest because it is the best thing for you, even though you sure have some challenges to overcome with the CPAP and a cold.

Anonymous said...

Not the niffie nose...Oh hun nothing worse... I hate it if I have the bugged up dose and can't breef.. I sometimes find stream is a good reliever of a bunged up nose. Get well soon
Sue x

Indie said...

Oh man, sounds like a rough night! I got so used to not taking any meds with either being pregnant or breastfeeding etc. for so long that I now know exactly how many pillows placed to be able to sleep sitting up when I have a cold. Thankfully now I can take drugs! Sudafed 12 hour or Nyquil for me! Hallelujah!

But wrangling a CPAP machine - that sounds tough. My dad has one, and I know it takes a lot of adjusting just to sleep regularly with one! I'm glad you figured it out and I hope you beat this rhino of a virus soon!

Zoey said...

I have never met anyone who uses tissue nose plugs like I do!! I have described them to people at work and they roar with laughter imagining me with Kleenex plugs stuffed in each nostril.

You have my sympathy. I know it's bad when you must resort to Kleenex plugs.

I hope it gets better soon!

Sall's Country Life said...

It's been a long time since I had to use the tissue like nose plugs during a cold, but I remember and it's miserable! Take care dear Karen, this too shall pass. I'm amazed and glad you got 4 hours of rest in, hoping more sleep will help you fight the rhino!

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Get well....quick! Sick is no fun. It's good you figured out how to get some sleep, sleep really does help. Take care of yourself.

Donna@GWGT said...

Hope you get well soon. Cute post though.

Missy said...

That dreaded virus sounds horrid. BUT Is there anything you can't see the funny side of? Hope you're soon on the mend.

Carol said...

I, too feel your pain. I have had several bad sinus infections the last few months. I have not tried nose plugs, but may have to. I need a sleep study done and look forward to decent sleep again once I can get on a machine. I had wondered how it would work with cement in my nose, too. Feel better soon! Carol

HolleyGarden said...

Sorry to hear of your cold. Those these are so irritating! Both my parents had a bad cold last week that lasted for a full week. I hope yours goes away sooner than that. Glad you found out how to adjust your CPAP, and I hope you get some of that rest you need.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

How miserable bad colds can be. Yes, I do have a set of nose plugs and have used them before. LOL
But *whispering so as not to jinx it* no one hear has been sick this winter...if you can call it winter. So very mild here.
Sending you healthy hugs and don't forget the chicken soup!
I almost forgot. My oldest son swears by the netti pot. He seems to get more colds than anyone I know and has tried a myriad of things.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Karen, I hope you are feeling better. I got better from the bronchitis I had, but now, my benign paroxysmal positional vertigo has returned. When I bend over, I get dizzy. My ear is also bothering me this time, and I was up around the same time you were, looking up ways to relieve the pressure in it. I am planning on going to bed on time this evening.

My dad uses one of those machines, too. I'm glad you are enjoying your dreams. I don't always like them. Sometimes, I have worked hard in my dreams, and wake up tired.

forest said...

So glad to know someone else uses the nose plug trick...Hope you are feeling much better....

Jennifer said...

Hi Karen,
You poor thing! There is nothing worse than a winter cold unless it is sleeping, correction, trying to sleep with a winter cold. I hope you feel better soon. I find a steamy hot bath helps.
Thanks so much for your comment on my "Growing Old" post. Everyone was so thoughtful and kind in their comments. Like your Mom, both my parents are still driving. Mom seems fine, but my Dad makes me a bit more nervous...

Shirley said...

Karen, I am experiencing something quite similar right now. Not at all a pleasant time with runny eyes and nose alternating with congestion, sore throat, coughing and sneezing. Blah..... Love the video! Thanks for the laugh my blogging friend. Hope you feel better soon.