• 6 months ago

    AFIB, breathing issues, chronic cough and severe fatigue.

    So I am writing this on here as a last ditch effort to find some sort of resolution and help for what my mom has been going through.... I have Googled, asked everyone I know including a few nurses and her doctors, I have even read medical books! Since she has had both heart issues and breathing issues, I figured Heart Health was the appropriate place to post this.

    To start with, she will be 62 in September and has for the most part been in perfect health her entire life. Her immune system is a ROCK, she NEVER gets sick even though she works in a school where kids are sick all the time. She has always been a smoker, a pack a day or sometimes less. Always had a ton of ambition, has worked full time for as long as I can remember and used to work two jobs when I was little. She is less than two months away from retirement!

    It all began around 6 months ago, she started developing a nasty cough. We figured it was caused by her smoking, so I told her it was time to quit! She cut down, first to around 5 cigarettes a day, then to 1 or 2. It did no good at all with the cough, it actually got worse and she started to lose energy mid day and was very tired and lathargic at night. This persisted for a few months, so she went to the doctors. The doctor seemed to think it was caused by acid reflux and prescribed her medication for that. It seemed to help a little, but not much. Her vitamin D was also low, so she was prescribed a supplement to take each day. None of this was really helping the problem, still coughing, still low energy later in the day but felt fine early in the day. Then one morning things got worse quick, she called me and said she wasn't feeling right and needed me to check on her (I live right next door). So I ran over as fast as I could, she couldn't stand up and walk without getting weak and falling down, she was sweating bad, dizzy, heart racing. I called 911 immediately and she was brought to the local hospital, diagnosed with AFIB. I thought this could be part of the answer, the lack of oxygen to her blood is causing her fatigue, which has been the most crippling part of all of this! She was given Xarelto and a few other meds, I know she was given a blood thinner, maybe that is what the Xarelto is? Anyways, after staying there for 48 hours, she was sent home! When she first got home she was feeling a little better, she went back to work after a few days and I figured half the battle was won! This sadly has not been the case, as the cough had gotten worse, as had her breathing. A lot of the time she was wheezing, especially during a coughing spell. The cough is productive, as it does produce phglehm but it never seems to get better and in fact, worsens. She hadn't been able to sleep a full night in over 2 months at that time, it has effected her sleeping down to maybe 4-5 hours a night, sometimes less!

    Then about 2 1/2 weeks ago, she had a doctors appointment. At this point she had been working most days, she has as many sick days as she needs to take off before retirment but being they were intended to pay for her health insurance, she don't want to use all of them. When she got to the doctors, they found an alarming abnormality in her EKG and wanted her to go to a hospital immediatly! This time they sent her to a hospital around 50 miles away, that specializes in heart health. The hospital is well known for it's cardiac unit and I figured she was in good hands and maybe we could finally get some answers! They did an EKG there, said it was fine, blamed it on the doctors offices EKG machine and said her heart was fine. We asked what was causing the fatigue and cough to get worse and he acted like he couldn't even look at it! Basically said since he checked her heart and it was fine, he wasn't doing anything else. Not check her breathing, not refer her to anyone, nothing! There were over a DOZEN overdoses in the emergency department during the time we were there and they seemed to take precidence over her, which is absolutely obsurd! At any rate, we left there with no more information than we had, her coughing getting more persistant to the point it makes her chest hurt from coughing so much and her fatigue getting worse! Was NOT impressed by that hospital and as I have chosen not to put them on blast, if you live in central NY, ask and I shall tell!

    As the past two weeks have went on, she has gotten even worse. Now just walking from her chair to the bedroom and back or through the store has her out of breath. She feels normal when she is sitting or lying down, besides the cough. She just has NO energy to do anything, even talk much sometimes. Gets winded and starts wheezing walking a short distance, especially in the heat. To recap, before 5 days ago we knew almost nothing of what is causing this. A week ago she went in and had a chest X-ray done, nothing abnormal came up on that. She had a breathing test done and her breathing is at 50% capacity. Her doctor ordered for her to have a CAT scan done 5 days ago, she went and had it done at our local hospital then came home. She couldn't have been home an hour and they called her up, wanted her to come back in right then to talk about the results! I was freaking out! All I could think was lung cancer as my brother died at 35 from germ cell carcinoma of the lungs. Turned out they found "abnormal tissue" at the base of her esophagaus. Her lymph nodes at the site were also swollen, which for whatever reason alarmed the doctors. This is what they are saying is causing the cough and the lack of oxygen, making her fatigued. They told her that her lungs were in great shape, which came as a surprise being she has smoked her entire life up until recently. There were no tumors or anything at the site of the abnormal tissue, her blood work also came back great. When my brother was battling cancer, there were markers in his blood which indicated cancer, none were found in my moms blood work. She has to have a scope and a culture done on her esophagaus this coming Monday, then see an oncologist. Issue is it KEEPS getting worse and is starting to worry me greatly! Sleeping a few hours a night, falling asleep during the day, she is starting to get depressed and down in her spirits which is not like her at all. I am now doing all of the cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, etc... as she cannot walk far at all without being out of breathe. Absolutely do not mind at all helping her, she is just an independent person who is looking forward to enjoying her retirement!

    Aside from the scope Monday, no other appointments are scheduled including the oncologist appointment. All the doctors including her own, are on "vacation". I just see this as much more serious than they do, after losing my father to a stroke and my only sibling to cancer, I don't want to lose my mom. The worse she gets, the more I worry and make her call and try to find out ANY information on some action being taken. The ONLY thing that does help a little is a nebulizer, which she just got today. It helps her breathe better and I have noticed the cough is not so bad. Tonight she is sleeping much better, which is really good! She has two inhalers, one does not do anything, that is the twice daily one. The other is one she can take whenever she wants or a "rescue inhaler", that one makes her heart race and feel funny so she is not using that one. At this point, we are both very worried about what could be wrong and I am sick of watching my mother suffer while doctors take vacations! At very least, someone could look into the issue far enough to provide some relief from the symptoms! Problem is, no one even knows exactly what the problem is yet!

    If anyone has any insight at all it would be GREATLY appreciated! As for immediate family, my mother and my son are ALL I have! They are almost all I have in general although I feel I should mention, my moms parents are still alive. My grandmother is 87 and my grandfather is 92! My great grandparents also died in their 90's, so living to be very old runs in my moms family. Good health runs in her family, there are no genetic diseases or cancer in her family history at all, other than diabetes. This is why I do not get why her health is slipping so quickly.... She was fine 7 months ago, now she can't even do most things for herself? Seeing this is killing me and the doctors aren't a ton of help or in a big hurry around here, which I personally feel they should be! Please if you have any suggestions or insight I would love to hear it, thank you!

Responses

  • 6 months ago

    RE: AFIB, breathing issues, chronic cough and severe fatigue.

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      • 6 months ago
        Understandable and she has been to her doctors many times, who now has her waiting on tests and such. Simply looking for any opinions we could explore further with her doctor or temporary treatments until they get her in. Thanks!