There's a little boy running around my apartment with a harmonica in his mouth.
I have no idea how he got here, who his parents are, or how to make him settle down.
I'm chasing him around the place, trying to catch him and make him cut it out. He's a fast little monster, and I'm starting to get winded.
Got him! I put one hand on each shoulder and shout, "Stop it!"
He takes the harmonica from his mouth, looks at me with great big innocent eyes, and says:
His face transforms into that of my cat's. She's sitting on the pillow next to my head, looking concerned. And that horrible noise....
Yeah, that one. It's coming from me. Not an asthma attack, not quite, but pretty darn close. Wonderful. It looks like my allergies are demanding some attention. I rummage around in the drawer of my bedside table for my inhaler, take a couple of puffs, and spend the rest of the night trying to sleep sitting up.
On my morning break I step outside with my cell phone and call my doctor's office:
"Hi, I need my allergy prescriptions renewed. I know she probably won't do that without a visit..."
"How long as it been since Doctor's seen you?"
"A while. Over a year." Why do nurses and receptionists use the title Doctor like it's a first name? Does that get done in other professions?
"Let me go get your file." She puts me on hold for a moment. I wonder if she could hear the outside noises on my end of the phone when I was speaking. A bus vrooms by as she comes back on the line.
"Wow, you really haven't been here for a while! Your chart wasn't even out front any more."
"Yeah, well, I'm an if-it-ain't-broke kind of girl, and it hasn't been broken for a while."
"How's tomorrow at 2:15?"
I consult the little piece of paper where I wrote all my scheduling conflicts. 2:15 will work.
"That's fine. See you then."
The doctor's given me Nasonex samples to see whether I have any success with the drug before I start buying it. She's also refilled my Allegra-D and inhaler prescription, and prescribed a week's worth of cortisone to calm my lungs down. She said the Nasonex takes a couple of weeks before it starts to work, and if I start taking it right away it should be at full strength by the time the steroids wear off.
I'm doing my imitation of a lost soul in the pharmacy waiting area at Wal-Mart. When I handed them everything at 6:45, the woman at the window said it'd take 45 minutes to an hour to fill them. That was an hour and ten minutes ago. I've had dinner, I've gone shopping, I've wandered around aimlessly looking at stuff. I've bumped into acquaintances and gotten caught up. I've spent a good five minutes trying to get a very, very serious-looking Asian baby to give me a smile. She wasn't having any of it. She just looked at me like I was nuts. Her parents seemed to enjoy the attention, and they were trying to get her to smile too. Just as I gave up she looked straight at her Daddy and gave him a big toothless grin. It was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud.
That was twenty minutes ago. I am now just really wanting to get my meds and go home, please. At ten after 8 they finally call my name. When I get outside, it is fully dark. The sun wasn't even beginning to set when I walked in. Note to self: try not to fill a prescription on Friday evening ever again.
From the information sheet that came with my steroids:
"Psychic derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression, to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids."
FanTAStic! Which do I want more, breathing or sanity? If I go nuts, will I notice? How will I be able to tell if I'm not sleeping because of the steroids or I'm not sleeping because I'm worried about the steroids?
The steroids themselves are in this little foil-backed bubble pack with dosing instructions printed on it. I take six the first day at various times during the day, five the next, and so on until the last day when I only take one. You have to wean yourself off 'em. So apparently this stuff is just as dangerous to stop using as it is to start.
It's a week later now, just took my last steroid dose on Thursday. Never saw any signs of craziness. The Nasonex appears to have kicked in. I have clear, dry sinuses for the first time all summer.
And, just as I feared would happen, now that the doctor has her hooks in me she wants to do "routine tests" and a general physical. Sigh. I'm going for blood work at the hospital in a week or so, after I'm sure all the steroids have left my system.
But at least I can breathe without sounding like a musical instrument. There's that silver lining.