My TCM Follow-up/Review Visit

Friday happened to be time for a followup session with the TCM physician. The 7-day course of grounded herbal powdered medicine given a week back has been consumed, so it’s time to check its effect and tweak the prescription for the new period.

As I talked to the Chinese doc about how I felt after the med, expressing the relief I got for five full days from Sunday to Thursday, I wanted to know why things went downhill suddenly on the sixth day. She was quick to ask what I had eaten the night before.

We have had a simple family dinner at a nearby Thai eatery Thursday evening. It turned out that the stir-fried kang kong veg dish I ate is a no-no — such a veg is regarded in TCM to be a cooling food and this doesn’t support my body’s constitution!

Recovery Derailed, Back to Square One?

Oh no, an innocent looking veg disrupted my treatment, just like that? It’s not that I don’t believe in TCM; in fact, I’m beginning to appreciate the reasoning behind this alternative healing method to Western medication.

It’s less likely that this had been a coincidence. I don’t recall anything else unusual happening on Thursday, so that cooling food may well had been the trigger which upset my recovery progress.

With the latest input and her pulse readings, the TCM doc made a new set of herbal medicine for the week. I took the twice-daily dose once I got home, but I didn’t feel much better in the evening after a second packet mixed with water.

I thought perhaps the revised concoction needed a couple of days to kick in, just like what had happened with last week’s med.

But time wasn’t on my side.

It’s an Emergency! Go to the Hospital A&E, I Must!!

After a warm shower on that fateful evening, I was really feeling uneasy and struggling to stay steady from the lack of breath. I gave myself about half hour to regain composure, after which I decided it was time to go seek immediate help at the A&E.

Desperate times do call for desperate measures. In the state I was in, it didn’t feel like I’d get through Friday night at home without trouble.

Trouble which I probably cannot handle alone. Nor wish it away with positive thinking. Why wait till it becomes a real emergency?

What the Docs Are Thinking About My Case… and What They’re Doing For/To Me

Actually the doctors don’t quite know what’s wrong with me.

Blood tests showed no infection. The lung X-ray revealed an “extended” lung — this wasn’t there in previous X-rays I took over the past months — suggestive of smoker’s symptoms and/or asthma.

Since I didn’t smoke, the docs seemed to be leaning on the obvious.

It Was An Emergency Case, Right?


The inclination to take the asthma angle certainly tied in well with my health condition which had required emergency treatment. How else could you explain the breathlessness problem?

And so I was prescribe antibiotics (penicillin) and an asthma inhaler (Beclo-Asma 250mcg CFC-free inhaler, so says the box).

But they aren’t ruling out rhinitis as a possibility, so meds for that were also given. I didn’t ask for their names though.

Just to be sure, they put me on Tamiflu in case I caught the flu bug. Basically, the strategy here is to eliminate the possibilities by looking at the response to the various meds.

Trial and error in play?

No wonder people say you can feel like a guinea pig at the hospital. I believe my condition may be unusual enough to make for a good case study.

A Nasty Experience of Nasal and Oral Swaps

I had a nostril swap done on me while at the emergency department downstairs. This was a gentle collection of mucus and stuff, just at the entrance of the nose. No discomfort felt when the male nurse did this.

Incidentally, I didn’t hear anything about the test results from that nasal swap. Did they find any infection going on?

I had a second round of swaps done while at the Level 10 ward. This time round, it turned out to be the most uncomfortable — excruciating, even — experience anyone can go through. A real nasty case of nose and throat discomfort… with no emergency relief!

You Won’t Want to Go There!

Imagine a long cotton swap stick being pushed into the deep recess at the end of the nose. And some scraping action going on in there to collect specimens. All for a good long 3-4 seconds.

I thought that first nostril swap experience was just past the point of bearable. I had survived that intrusion. My mind was prepped for a second nose attack.

It was not to be, however. The nurse pushed the stick even deeper and seemed to be taking an eternity. This was a taste of torture!

The worst was yet to come, unfortunately. Now, all I had to do next was to stick out my tongue fully and pressed it down, curled on my lower lip. Much like what a dog does naturally.

Doing this exposes the back of the tongue and that little thingy that dangles in the mouth. In goes that swap, all the way to the back… for five seconds. Make that forever!

What a Freaking Experience!

Using F-words ain’t my style, but if that was permitted, this part of my post will be littered with countless expletives. At the beginning of the sentence; in the middle; and at the end. And all in capital letters!

There’s almost no other way to describe this most horrible of horrible mouth swap experience. You get my point.

And I’m beginning to really feel like that rat in a laboratory experiment.

If any consolation at all, the senior nurse administering the swaps told me she had to undergo the same experience as part of her training. I guess when I pleaded for her to be gentle on me, she did her best to be swift and steady.

Or was she out for revenge? Sweet revenge, as they say… just waiting for the right moment to spring an attack. I won’t ever know; it doesn’t matter since the unpleasant episode is behind me now.

Life goes on.

But I won’t wish this nasty nose and mouth swap on anyone. Not even people I detest. Don’t ever get this sick to let them stick sticks into where they don’t belong!

Some Final Thoughts About This Health Emergency

I was told to expect a week-long hospital stay. So fingers crossed for a discharge this Friday.

I had checked in over a weekend, when no major tests would be done and hospital staff strength are at the lower end. Most doctors are off duty anyway.

And so I have to wait till tomorrow for the tests they’d plan to do on me. The last I heard from the visiting doc this morning was a lung function test (spirometry?) and getting a nutritionist to put more proteins into my diet to gain back weight.

At least this doc is empathetic in that he is (also) of the opinion that scans can damage the body and he’d do his best to avoid unnecessary screenings of this sort.

Adult Onset Asthma a Likelihood

The bottom line is I may have developed adult onset asthma.

I was told if after using the inhaler for a few months and the symptoms go away, this would confirm the case for asthma. Strange logic here, don’t you think?

And with such confirmation, I’d be dependent on the asthma spray for the rest of my life!

To be safe, the nurse actually handed me another spray this morning — this is Salbuair, a salbutamol sulphate-based inhaler. The same thing you’d typically see in movies where people with asthma attacks desperately reach out for to pump into their mouths.

Yes, they prescribed this stronger spray for the emergency situation of breathlessness. Just in case.

So asthma it is for now.

I’m not certain if they’d nailed it; for that matter I’m not sure if it’s better they’re right about this or wrong.

Let’s wait a few more days.