Chest Infection & Torn Intercostal

So you may or may not have noticed that I have been a little quiet on my YouTube Channel and on this blog for the last few weeks. It’s not because I’ve lost interest, I really REALLY haven’t, but unfortunately I haven’t been very well.

I started coughing on the 12th May and I know this is very precise, but I noted the date because it was the week before I went to Buckingham Palace and I was wary of getting ill so close to my big event! At first, my cough was tickly and as I didn’t feel unwell, I just thought it was the start of the hayfever season, as this is one of the way my allergy presents itself.

However, between Thursday and Monday my cough just got worse and worse and I actually had the day before the palace off sick to try and recover – little did I know. I went down to London on the 17th for a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and even though I enjoyed it, I probably shouldn’t have gone. I spent the entire day coughing and at a few points during the day, I was totally unable to speak to people without just dissolving into the most disgusting hacking cough. I was lucky enough to travel back 1st class and I was so tired from the exertion of coughing for 9 hours, that I just slumped into my lovely seat and drank all the drinks the staff offered me. When I got home, I couldn’t really tell M how it had gone as by that time talking without coughing was impossible.

Things only got worse from there on, with the coughing become intolerable and I was off work more or less until I went to the Doctors on Monday 23rd. I would never normally go to the doctors for a cough, but it just didn’t seem to be going and by this point, I had been coughing for nearly 2 weeks. After a thorough examination, I was reassured by the doctor that it was probably just a virus and to treat using steam and vicks.

I did try that, but thing just got worse as only the following night, I started to wake up several times during the night choking and gasping for breath. I need to get a little gross now, but it felt like Mucus had gathered at the back of my throat and had covered my windpipe. The only way to clear it for me was to cough violently until I managed to get the mucus up. All KINDS of gross. It was at this point the stuff I coughed up turned a yukky colour. Not Nice.

When either M or I are ill we sleep in separate rooms so that the “well” one of us can get a decent night’s sleep. However, after I had been to to the doc, I decided to sleep back in bed with M to see how I got on. But the first night I did, M just got to see me waking up every 30-40 minutes from 10:30pm – 3:00am coughing and gasping for air – he said it was quite scary to witness.

After the bank holiday weekend and almost 3 weeks worth of coughing, I decided to go back to my GP. I told him about the choking and the fact that I was still coughing and he decided to give me some anti-biotics. Within 24 hours they did improve my cough, in that I went from coughing almost all the time, to it becoming much more sporadic. Even the night time episodes lessened. RESULT I thought! But no.

On Thursday 2nd June, M had gone to work and I was getting ready to do the same when I started coughing in the bedroom quite violently. Suddenly, something in my right side near my ribs sort of ripped or popped  and I got a violent sharp pain in my side. I’d had a bad night coughing, without much sleep and suddenly I was in pain when I moved and even worse, agony when I coughed.

I am not ashamed to tell you that I burst into tears. I was just so tired from over 2 weeks of illness and broken, sleepless nights, the pain in my side was just the last straw. I tried to carry on getting ready, but it was impossible and so I called M at work and told him I needed to go to the walk-in centre. For those outside the UK, these are free clinics that treat minor injuries and sit somewhere between your local doctor and the Accident & Emergency Department.

I cancelled my meetings, and M came home and within 40 minutes of calling him, I was booking myself in at the Walk-In Centre in St Helens. I think we waited about 30 minutes before we saw a triage nurse (quick chat about what was wrong) and then another hour before we saw what I think was nurse practitioner.

He was very very good and gave me a really thorough examination and consultation explaining that with the constant exertion and force of my coughing,  I had damaged one of my intercostal muscles, which are the muscle between my ribs.

He told me that it could take weeks to heal and when it happened to him after he came off his bike, he had 2 months off work!

So my state of play was: Still coughing, though admittedly nowhere near as bad once I started the anti-biotics, and a damaged intercostal muscle which only hurts when I breathe, turn or cough. Lovely. Today it is 23 days since I first started coughing and I am in pain and bizarrely still a little “chesty”. I do hope though, that by the end of the course of tablets, I will be cough free and that my poorly rib muscle heals up nice and quickly. Oh talking of tablets, my current regime is:

  • 1 x Anti-biotic every day
  • Either paracetamol or Ibuprofen every 2 hours
  • Sudafed Decongestant every 4-6 hours.

I have also been told not to sleep flat until my cough/congestion have gone and I was given a really good demonstration as to why not with a half empty bottle of water… I will try to recreate below:

Imagine this is your lung:

All the infection and “crap” sits at bottom of your lung and stays there until your body or anti-bitoics fight it off. However, when you like down:

If you imagine the top of the bottle is your neck, you can see that all the mucus, crap and infection can go up towards your throat and in my case, causing me to cough and choke. Yuk squared.

So for the next few days I am sleeping wherever I can get comfortable sat up, which is mostly nowhere, but being tired is preferable to choking 8 times a night!

But in the middle of this, I have to give a special mention to my husband M. He has been so patient, kind and caring and has been looking after me brilliantly. I am currently sat in our garden and he has gone to make me some lunch. He won’t let me do anything now my ICM is damaged and I couldn’t ask for anyone better to look after me. So if you are reading this my lovely husband, thank you for looking after me, I appreciate it more than I can tell you. I love you.