Surviving a cold when you’ve got #chronicillness #celiac #lyme #mecfs #chroniclife #spoonie

After feeling so excited about feeling better and finally treating the lyme and making progress with detox, I got completely body slammed. I had migraines for four days, and then I got a terrible cold. This may not sound so bad, but on top of the ME chronic fatigue and other chronic illness stuff it SUCKS.

The migraines were my clue that something was really wrong. I only get migraines anymore when I am having an immune response to something – like accidentally ingesting gluten. It is a sign that my immune system is going haywire and getting tanked. I still am not sure where the migraines were coming from. There were several detox procedures that were new. My doc told me to stop them all, and reintroduce them more slowly.

The cold took me by surprise. I used to get one to two colds (or flu) EVERY MONTH. But ever since I did a very strict elimination diet and figured out my bazillion food sensitivities, I have not had ONE. Not a single cold or flu in a year and three months!!! I used to think I had a horrible immune system. Turns out, I have a rockin immune system – when it is not under attack.

I forgot how utterly miserable it is to have such congestion, difficulty breathing, sinus headache, and even MORE fatigue on top of my regular fatigue. Part of the problem is that I can’t take over the counter medications. Everything has to be compounded, because I have such food and chemical sensitivities. Gluten and corn are in a LOT of medications, as the filler. Yes, I’d get the decongestant, but I would also set off headaches, body aches, much more fatigue, etc. It would be like getting another flu on top of the cold I was trying to treat. They technically can compound decongestant, but because it is an over the counter medication they have to special order the ingredients, which would take 3-4 days. By which time I might be over it. Plus for that type of medication there is a minimum order of 100 pills, which costs about $80. And it would only be guaranteed to be good for 180 days. Um, no. If I was rich, yes, but I am a poor social worker.

I did try Afrin nasal, because a celiac that works at my local compounding pharmacy recommended it. I was kinda desperate by that time. I had been miserable for DAYS. A terrible head cold, with NO medication. Ugh. So I got the one with fewest ingredients and tried it right away. At first, it seemed like it was working and then my sinus started hurting and I got way MORE congestion and runny nose! It made it WORSE. I read the side of the package, and that was one of the possible side effects – more nasal discharge and sinus pain. WTF?!?

So I had to go with all natural cold remedies, and only ones that did not require eating or drinking anything new! I am so crazy sensitive to so many plants that it just isn’t worth it. I can’t do cough drops, so I drank lots of hot water with honey. That was very soothing to my throat. I’m not used to so much sweet. I don’t really like sweet stuff, so that was kind of hard, but it was worth it not to be hacking up my lungs.

I tried the netti pot. This is something I have used a lot in the past. But I feel like it didn’t really work for me this time. It made my sinuses ache. I did it a few times and then stopped.

What was the best was a big steaming bowl of super hot water, and a few drops of rosemary essential oil. I put a towel over my head, and over the bowl, and breathed in deep for about 15 minutes. I did a lot of hacking up stuff and blowing of nose, and after that I felt a lot better. I felt like I could breathe better. It cleared me enough that I could get to sleep.

I did have to sleep propped up to halfway to sitting for a few days. Lying down was either painful in the sinuses or else I would wake up several times in the night with intense coughing.

The most annoying part is that I blew through 40 hours of carefully horded leave at work. I am deeply fortunate that I have work that I can do, that I have benefits and vacation/ sick leave. That said, I am just at the beginning of treating lyme and I am very very nervous about surviving financially. But I am very grateful that this cold is almost gone. And that I am back to just my “regular” chronic illness.