I Have Whooping Cough/Pertussis
I'm a (usually) healthy, fit 34 year old female. I live in Brisbane, Qld, Australia. I exercise regularly - at least 4 times a week. Running, cycling or swimming.
My first symptoms
I had a couple of days of feeling exhausted.
Followed by: dry coughing spells/then hours of coughing fits, fever and exhaustion.
My initial doctors visits
I visited my GP the day after the dry coughs started, I was diagnosed with a flu/bronchitis, and prescribed anit-biotics.
Then I visited the emergency room in the middle of the night because I was having trouble breathing after a 2 hour coughing fit, I just couldn't stop coughing. My breathing was troubling me too, and I was exhausted. They took a chest x-ray, I think to check for pnemonia (it was clear). I was already taking anitbiotics, so they suggested I buy a steam vaporiser and sent me home.
I had woken up early hours of the morning with a cough, then bam!!!! I couldn't breathe. Panic....I'm banging on the walls to get my new husbands attention. My mind was racing, but I can still remember clearly what I was telling myself ..... 'This is it! I'm dying' then whoop ...... I could barely, barely suck air into a small pinprick sized gap in my throat, 'Oh no, what's happening?!?', I don't recall if my husband said anything, there was no way I could answer him anyhow. Then I was calm, and I could breathe again, barely, and I could barely talk. My husband got me a ventolin, one I'd bought just that afternoon. We discussed going to a hospital, but didn't know if one was near-by, we were on our honeymoon. After a while I told him to go back to bed, I was exhausted.
A few hours later, while browsing a local arts and crafts market I had another cough with the strange throat swelling feeling and I gasped for as much air as I could get into that pinprick sized breathing space in my throat. I wasn't as panicked as before though, although I didn't know what was happening, it's like I knew it would pass. But I sure did scare some people, the noise is loud, and scary.
I went to the emergency room at the local hospital - there I had 2 more throat swelling coughing fits - they told me that I had spasisms and gave me 2 steroid tablets. I was still totally unaware of what that meant and that I had whooping cough - they never actually said the words 'whooping cough' to me.
Days of this went by, when I got home from my honeymoon I went to my regular GP I asked him what was wrong with me - by this stage I was scared and absolutely exhausted.
He tested me for whooping cough/pertussis, by a blood test - it was positive. I was told that this bacteria can last in my system for 3 months.
What helps me
Vick Steam Vaporiser (because my airways are so sensitive - the Eucalyptus and Peppermint soothes my airways & the steam helps get the mucus & phlegm off my chest)
Sleeping upright (in my recliner during the worst part - now propped up in bed) - helps get the mucus up off my chest
Baths morning and night (gets phlegm off my chest)
Do NOT drink or eat anything too cold (I find it inflames my throat and produces heaps of mucus)
Eat - keep your strength up
Having someone tell you to 'Relax' during a spasism - in a calm even tone - it helps a LOT!!! (my boss told me 'breathe', please don't use the word 'breathe', it's frustrating to hear that when you are gasping for air - I feel like choking them and telling them to 'breathe', lol *jokes I swear*).
feeling of lethargy - no energy to do anything and I'm usually very active.
dry cough/fever/phlegmn (clear)
days of the typical whooping cough - cough followed by a spasism (30-60 seconds), vomiting. Am having 4 to 5 spasisms a day. Totally random times, but I'm usually the worst at night/early morning. I usually have another around breakfast time too. But I've had them at all different times of the day.
absolute exhaustion - dehydration - lot of mucus (clear) production. The worst of the attacks would be when I would have 2 or 3 spasims one after the other, left me totally spent, I was done, I'd spend days on the couch, exhausted after those spasims.
I have gone back to work part time - my doctor says I'm no longer as highly contagious. My cough has changed, I have a bellowing cough (w/green phlegmn).
I'm working 4 hour days, then I go home and have my nanna naps, I'm driving to work so I don't catch public transport with people who may have colds and flu's as I'm told I'm susceptible to picking up a secondary infection, which can make the whooping spasisms come back (my worst fear).
Day 43 - I have a burning sensation in my chest, like a really bad heartburn. Then I have a fever. Then an excruiating abdominal pains. I did have Indian for dinner the night before because I'd been feeling ok and I was hungry I didn't think of the implications. I visit my GP but he just gives me an injection for gastro. It doesn't do anything but make me not want to throw up. I suspect the heartburn and gut pain is not just from the Indian dinner but also all the antibiotics I've been taking have made my digestive system sick.
Days 44-49 - I sleep on and off for days, I actually sleep ALL day on day 44, it's the only thing that I can get relief from from the pain - and I'm utterly exhausted.
Headaches, backaches, stomach aches .. yuck. I go back to my doctor and insist I stop taking antibiotics, he agrees.
I'm exhausted - I haven't had a spasism in 8 days, but I can't shake this feeling of tiredness, weak, dizzy and nauseated.
I visit a Naturopath. He makes a lot of sense (and dollars, haha), he gives me:
* some liquid stuff for my lungs (to take with breakfast)
* some liquid stuff for my digestive system (which I take at dinner time)
* some tablets to boost my immune system (so I'm no so suseptible to picking up other contagious ailments - luckily :-) because I feel too weak to fight anything else off.
Days 52-54 - ok - 1 spasim - no where near as intense as before.
Day 55 - (06 April 2009)
Back to 6 hour days at work.
no stomach cramps, no bellowing cough, no headaches, no aches or pains, most of all I don't feel exhausted.
I have some coughing. Nothing like before though.
I think I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel :-)
Days 56-60 (Sat 11 April 2009)
Feeling better, I've had minimal coughing (just once in a while). I'm sleeping normally (back in my own bed - not propped up on pillows).
I'm even walking for exercise again. I walked 3 km yesterday, and 2 km today. Feeling good.
Easter weekend. I did a 3km walk.
Went for a 10km bike ride today - I feel good.
I'm exhasuted, exercise every other day, walking like a 99 year old woman. Have back pain too.
Sunday April 26th 2009
I've been feeling good for about a week now. Still not back into exertion during physical activites, but I can go for brisk walks and slow bike rides. Feeling soooo much better. Promise never to take health for granted again! :-)
Monday 27th April - bike ride (slowly) - to and from work (1 hour altogether), feel good!!!
p.s. feel free to ask any questions.
p.p.s. I've never known anyone to have whooping cough, so I'm writing this to share my experience because everything I found on the internet was to do with the clinical side - not the actual experience.
UPDATE: 21 JUNE 2009
I've been picking up every cold going around the office - my doctor said that would happen & that my immune system would be low this winter. So I'm still taking immunity boosting liquids in the morning (Olive Leaf extract - peppermint flavoured).