I've been writing about my efforts to understand my shortness of breath (SOB) and post nasal drip (PND), which always wax and wane together. I had recently come to the conclusion that both symptoms are caused by inflammatory cytokines. This would essentially mean that there is nothing I can do about the SOB/PND except for the usual, marginally effective measures: paleo diet, immune modulating supplements and (sometimes) drugs, lifestyle management. These of course never make the problem go away, they simply make the problem more manageable.
My pulmonologist recommended that I see an allergist as a last resort. I made an appointment with the allergist but nearly cancelled after wondering: what's the point? In the end, I decided to keep the appointment. My reasoning was: if the allergist can identify even one environmental trigger (such as, for instance, dust), then there's one more piece of information I can use to help reduce incidents of runaway inflammation. It certainly won't solve all my problems, but it would be one more small piece of the puzzle.
The allergist I visited yesterday (Dr. L) was very impressive. You know that feeling when you meet with one of those rare doctors who seems equally as invested in your health mystery as you? That's a good feeling. She's been practicing for less than five years. Sometimes I find that the younger doctors, while less experienced, are the best because they finished medical school more recently. Medical knowledge is evolving so rapidly that doctors who have been practicing more than about 15 years are often clueless about chronic complex conditions. Plus, younger doctors haven't yet been worn down by years and years of listening to people complain (can you imagine?). They still have some empathy left to give. I don't mean this to sound age-ist. There are some wonderful older doctors too.
Dr. L spent about a half an hour with me. She said my nasal passages were "incredibly inflamed." Her preliminary theory is that the inflammation (the cause of which is still to be determined) is producing mucous, which in turn drips down my throat and causes the SOB. I'm not so sure about the mucous being the cause of the SOB (highly questionable), but at least she's the first doctor who has attempted to tie the two symptoms together. Because, to me, they are clearly related.
I'm supposed to come back for a "scratch test" next week. I hope this test will explain why I seem to react to my car.