That feeling of suffocating

Updated: Mar 9

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For the time being I’ll digress my chronological blog on my cancer journey and bring you to the current environment. I’m self-isolating because Myeloma attacks the immune system. Right now, the Coronavirus is sweeping the world, taking the elderly and vulnerable. I’m in the vulnerable category but in remission, no where near as dangerous for current Cancer Warriors fighting their biggest battle in life.


For those of you still comparing Coronavirus to “just the flu”, bear in mind that this COVID-19 is being declared as a respiratory infection. The lungs are attacked. Your respiratory system is compromised. Oxygen to your brain and body is depleted.


How do I know so much about lung problems. Apart from my dad living his later life with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) and other lung disorders, last year during my treatment, I had the flu as well as developed clots on the lungs. Here’s my viewpoint on how important it is to take action and know what you are up for if you develop a respiratory problem, such Coronavirus.


After each stem cell transplant, I got the flu. That’s twice in one year. High temperatures, tiredness, achy bones, but none the less, Influenza B in a cancer patient meant a week in hospital with lots of antibiotics. No matter how isolated and vigilant I was, I got the flu but I got through it, even with my compromised immune system, I got through it. Just a “flu” we can get manage.

I’ve seen my fair share of Emergency

To add to my exciting year of fighting cancer, infections, viruses and influenza, during my first stem cell transplant, I had developed two clots in my lungs. At this time, my blood pressure dropped. I was gasping for air if I moved ever so slightly. I could not walk half a metre without clutching at something. I felt I had run a marathon; in the smog. I was heaving with every movement, chest pains, confusion and dizziness minute by minute. The shortness of breath caused me to gulp air just to breath. Of course, panic sets in and you begin to breath rapidly, taking more air in than out, creating carbon dioxide. What does this mean? We use energy from oxygen and the carbon dioxide is breathed out as gas. Instead as you are breathing in too much oxygen but not breathing out carbon dioxide you are building poison in your body.


As this was happening, my blood pressure kept dropping (which is cause for a stroke), muscles are aching, gasping for air and I could do nothing but lay down exhausted from just trying to breath. So I slept but only to be woken regularly for medication and ensuring I wasn’t falling into a coma.

Don’t bother hoarding home Ventolin as it doesn’t help because by this stage your lungs are so constricted, you need to be on a hospital ventilator. Even that hurts as it feels it’s ripping your throat apart. Panic is further exacerbated as the breathing mask then creates claustrophobia. You require steroids to help open your lungs. You may even need a touch of morphine to calm you down.

I was lucky. I was able to get to emergency and straight on a respirator and antibiotics pumped into me with work around the clock to protect me but what if it was today? How would our hospitals cope with me, who like many other Warriors get sick from the side effects of chemo treatment and cancer depleting you of everything your body fights to build. Imagine this happening today as the hospitals are dealing with an epidemic of the Coronavirus? Who is triaged first?


What’s My Point?

I haven’t had or got Coronavirus but if it’s a respiratory lung condition, I’ve been there and it’s bloody scary. Why?


I had the flu and got through it even with a immune compromised body – much harder with respiratory problems

Please stay safe

  1. Coronavirus is not “just the flu” virus. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus constricting and harming your lungs.

  2. There is no vaccination to slow it down or stop the spread

  3. Not everyone can easily recover from a respiratory virus, it’s a bloody hard road to recover from. Infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure

  4. Fluid in the lungs. You can choke and “drown” on your own spit!. Death may be inevitable if you can’t fight the fight.

  5. Elderly: blood pressure, aged heart, fight is much harder in an aged body. Immune system vulnerable. How often have you heard that an old friend passed from pneumonia or kidney failure. Their body shuts down quicker than a younger person’s whose body will fight.

  6. Immune Deficient: Will catch the virus as quick as someone ringing the doorbell on their doorstep. No antibodies to fight the virus on their own. Pneumonia can set in.

  7. Kids: Fit, healthy and will recover, however, can easily pass on the Coronavirus which can be airborne for three hours and surface borne for four – how quick do snotty noses and nits spread?

  8. Healthy Young-Middle Aged Adults: Can recover. May not develop into severe medical condition. This category can take control – isolate, minimise and flatten the curve.

  • Anyone with respiratory issues please be extra vigilant

  • Help by keep our emergency departments clear

  • Look after your elderly and be mindful of those not as fit as you

  • Smokers beware

It’s not just the flu

Breathing was like having run a marathon

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