Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cough Cough Cough Leak!


Image from CDC.

I had heard that after having a child through vaginal delivery, you increase your chance of "stress incontinence" as you age. When I was young, I had a bladder of steel, so I never thought it would happen to me. But then I delivered a 9 pound 8 ounce baby boy, which definitely did a number on my perineum. Now when I have a bad cough, I have to wear pantyliners to catch the inevitable drops that come out. By the end of the day, I start smelling like the ball pit at IKEA (check the link for a cool video. Mark lived at IKEA for a week and this video shows him jumping into the ball pit during the first night. I'm beginning to think that I wrote this post just to include that link). Supposedly there is a simple 20 minute procedure that can fix this problem. I found this site which describes it, "Urethrocliesis is a vaginal operation for stress incontinence in which the whole length of the urethra is narrowed by two rows of nonabsorbable sutures." Um, no thanks, just pass the Depends.

But enough about leaking, and on to the coughing. Last December, I came down with this nasty illness which took me months to get over. I had a 103°F fever for 11 days, and terrible cough. My stomach muscles were sore from all the coughing. In the end it was defeated by some heavy duty antibiotics (Levaquin) and Advair. I never did get a chest x-ray because the first doctor pissed me off, but my guess was that I had pneumonia. I was so weak afterwards, my leg muscles hurt from having too much bed rest. After the initial illness, I continued to get colds easily for a few months, and then this nasty cough came back in full in March. This time I was hacking up all sorts of colored stuff, so I finally went back to the doctor on Doug's advice (can you tell I am a terrible patient?). I finally got a chest x-ray and a heavier dosage of Advair. Both my husband and son have asthma, but I've never had lung issues. I often kid that they gave me asthma. Miraculously, Advair slowly but surely cleared up the problem. The chest x-ray came back with a terrible diagnosis. Possible emphysema or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Emphysema? That's an old person's smoking disease! I've never been exposed to anything that would cause something like that.

So I went on to see a pulmonary specialist and had a CAT scan and a lung function test performed. By this time, my cough had cleared up. All the tests came back normal. My affliction was chalked up to having a "asthma-like" reaction when I was sick. I hate having alarmist doctors that get you all worried for nothing! I was seriously thinking that I was going to die from emphysema.

Since the last day of our vacation early this month, I've had another one of those colds. No fever, but cough cough cough. I've even resorted to taking cough syrup with codeine (please don't make me take a drug test for work). It's been over three weeks now but I won't go to the doctor until next year to keep my insurance costs down. Adam went to the doctor for a similar cough, and all they did was ask him to take a larger dose of his asthma medication. In the mean time, I've been religiously taking my Advair. And wearing my pantyliners.

11/10/09 Edited to add - For real support for urinary incontinence, check out the Urinary Incontinence Support Group on MDJunction.com.

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