After dinner Thursday, Scott and I stopped in to Bath & Body Works because I needed some pretty-smelling hand sanitizer for my work desk. Sadly, they no longer make the size or the scent that I wanted, so I bought five 1-ounce bottles in different scents. And because it's physically impossible to walk into that store and not spend a mere $5, we also got these cute little portable air fresheners for each car.
I immediately opened Scott's and set it up in his car on our way home. Halfway through our 15 minute trip, I was ready to stick my head out the window. I figured this wouldn't be a problem for me. I had a plan. Rather than open the whole foil lid, I'd just poke a few air holes in the lid so that not as much scent would escape at once.
(This is basically how I always handle any sort of air fresheners. I just don't like a whole lot of scent.)
The next morning, I grabbed a safety pin and headed out the door. I opened the package and poked an air hole in the foil liner. I poked the air hole a little too far. Immediately, scented oil started to ooze out. Very scented oil started to ooze out.
I made it to work on Friday without incident, but the drive home was particularly bad. My eyes were watering, and I had to roll down the window despite the 90-degree weather. When I got home, I left the windows rolled down so that the car could air out over the weekend.
Almost right away, my throat got scratchy. At 8:15 Friday night, I tweeted, "I feel like my lungs are half filled with goop. Strange, I was fine this morning. Wheeeeze." I spent the weekend on the couch, not really coughing a lot, but definitely not breathing well.
I made it through two days of work, but by Tuesday afternoon I could barely keep mental focus on my job. I called in yesterday and had a diet of won ton soup, tea, and orange juice. And it just kept getting worse. Mucinex wasn't helping. Robitussin wasn't touching the cough. And only the ibuprofen seemed to be doing its job on my throat. (no, not combining cough medicines - I know better)
By bedtime, I knew I was going to need to call in again today, a fact that was abundantly clear at 2 am when I awoke to the feeling of a golf ball being shoved up into my sinuses. Up until that point, it had just been the lung goop, the cough, and the cough-related sore throat. And as I drifted off to sleep after the next coughing fit, I noticed that I had a "nose whistle" coming from my throat.
To recap: when I finally woke up for the day, I really thought I had pneumonia. I couldn't breathe at all through my nose, could barely breathe through my mouth, my sinuses were exploding, and every cough felt like it was coming from my spine. And don't get me started on the pain of sneezing!
I managed to get an appointment at the doctor, and I told her about the air freshener incident. After some looking and listening and some other questions, she said that most likely I had an allergic reaction to it, and that the irritation then got infected. The diagnosis: acute bacterial bronchitis (which I believe is just doctor speak for cough with green phlegm) and sinusitis. She gave me prescriptions for antibiotics, cough medicine (the "good" kind with narcotics), and a freaking inhaler!
It's been 4 hours and though I wouldn't say I feel good, I do feel alive. Trust me, it's an improvement. I'm still coughing and sneezing, but it's not as painful as before. Whether it's the inhaler or the cough medicine, I'm able to breathe more deeply (granted, still through my mouth!) than I have in days. And right now, breathing = peace and happiness.
As of right now, I'm planning to go to work tomorrow - for one day - and then I have a three day weekend. By the time I go back to work on Tuesday, I'll be finished my antibiotics and hopefully as good as new. And if not, at least I have my cough medicine with hydrocodone to help me care a little less...