Thursday, January 8, 2015

Laryngotracheobronchitis? At my age?


Did you hear the one about the guy who walked into the doctor's office. He already has a pretty rare form of cancer called multiple myeloma, an even rarer genetic defect caused by a broken chromosome, two spleens and a stomach ailment that seems to be baffling modern medicine.


He says to the doctor, “Doctor, my throat hurts.”


The doctor asks, “Does it hurt when you cough?”


“It does.”


“Then don't cough.”


Ha! Who says vaudeville is dead?


But, as so often is the case, it seems, I'm making fun of a semi-serious situation. I did end up going to the doctor this week because my throat was really sore, I sounded like I'd been chewing glass, and was having a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning and staying awake during the day.


This was the doctor who diagnosed my multiple myeloma in the first place, so I have a lot of confidence in him. He had me spit on a stick, or swab my cheek, or something, and then we waited to see it was going to be a boy or a girl. Well, not that, but it did have to cook for a while before he could tell me what it was.


“Laryngotracheobronchitis.”


Of all the ailments I've had in the last 16 months, that's certainly the one that's used by far the most letters, I thought, even as I wondered what the heck it was that he had just said.


'I don't suppose it has another name. One that I could pronounce, maybe?”


“The croup.”


“Oh. That's okay if it's... Wait. What? Say that again.”


“You have an adult version of the croup.”


“I thought only little kids got the croup.”


“Well, you would seem to be living, breathing, albeit with some difficulty, proof to the contrary.”

T
he croup. It sounded positively medieval to me; like the cure would involve reptile body bits, some sort of locally grown fungus, and a drop of something from a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it.


“The cure is to let it just run its course. Take in fluids and get plenty of rest, preferably in a humid environment. And exposure to cold, if you can.”


I thought humid air might be a problem, but, Sheri, of course had the answer: a vaporizer. It's been spewing out cool, moist air for a while now and it seems to help. Of course, Sheri also told me to stick my head out the window and suck in some cold air. I think that was right after I'd whiningly asked her to get me one more thing than she was capable of managing while maintaining her own cool demeanor.


As I was pondering how the heck I managed to get the croup, Sheri reminded me about one of the aspects of my stem cell transplant that hadn't yet come into play.


“Your entire- that's entire- immune system was destroyed, remember? Including all the things you were vaccinated against as a child. You have to have all those baby shots again.”


Oh... right. And on the same schedule: 9 months, twelve months and so on. The first to be redone is DPT, which I am due to have done in February.


Interestingly enough, as I was reading about croup online, I read that the severe decline in the number of adult cases was thought to be linked to the increase in immunizations against diphtheria, as that disease was at one time a dominant cause of croup.



The reading I did also said it is virtually unheard of in anyone over the age of 15, probably because virtually everyone has been vaccinated by that age. I am determined not to think about all the other childhood stuff I've already had or am now susceptible to once again: chickenpox, measles, TB, rubella... Well, maybe “not think” is too ambitious a goal. Maybe, I am determined “not to obsess” about those things. Yeah. That even feels better. No obsessing here. Though, chickenpox...


There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere.”