A lot of things in our lives are taken for granted. Things like when opening the tap for a drink, water actually comes out. Or that there will always be toilet paper.
Or that you will continue to breathe.
When I was young I went on a trip to Greece. An amazing drunk fest across a completely ancient country with a giant group of spoiled teenagers that turned out to be so much fun. After I came back from that I developed asthma. Asthma sucks as you all know and I just chalked it up to what my mom said – severe pollution in Athens (horrid, horrid yellow skies) scarred my pretty pink, already smoke-filled lungs (I smoked at the time). I didn’t really understand it at the time how some external thing, such as smog or smoke, could not only cause the development of asthma, but also make it continue on for another 5 or 6 years until my first pregnancy.
There really is nothing like the feel of an asthma attack. For me it always started out with sneezes. I know that sounds insane, but it does happen just like that – enormous sneezes erupting constantly creating an enormous amount of snot in a teeny amount of time. Then it’s a tickling cough. At this point I haven’t noticed the very, very slight wheeze building in my chest. It’s not constricted yet, but the potential is there. This cough is persistent, hoarse, and rough. The kind that makes even the young piddle in their pants a bit with the brutal force of it. It’s a deep cough because at this point my lungs have realized, much before my psyche has, that the space is getting much more tight inside those little balls. This is the point when the pulse starts to quicken. Only slight palpitations, but these misfires, or desperate beats, are possibly the heart’s way of kicking my ass into gear to stop the roller coaster.
As a teenager, just when the heart was starting to really warm my face was almost the exact moment that I would finally notice that my breathing had become quite laboured. I’d even find myself with my hand up close to my throat. I never newwhy, as it wasn’t as if I could just reach inside and stretch things out a bit to ease the discomfort. The tickling cough would’ve, by this point, turned into a full-fledged barking, gasping hack that if left too long would leave me the rest of the dayhoarse and in pain. I would of course bring up my inhaler, always on my being, and take 2 big puffs of that sucker and feel instant relief.
But it wasn’t always that way. You see, as a stupid teenager I didn’t automatically tell my parents that I had some trouble breathing. No, of course not, it’d be much easier to ask around, read, about what may help it to naturally disappear (this was before the internet, you young whipper snappers).
Black coffee is the most remarkable remedy, if your attack doesn’t go too far, obviously. But really, how far is too far?
When my eldest was born when I was the ripe old age of 23, the asthma attacks ceased altogether. In fact, I went years without one before I even threw out my inhaler out of sheer disbelief.
Did you know that 12 years later an asthma attack can flare up again? No? Neither did I.
I’ve been battling food allergies for years now. Over time my body has been rejecting a great group of raw vegetables. It doesn’t even stick to one family of a kind, nor does it present itself in a nice hand-written letter, the bastard. I’ve lost potatoes (I know, my family are the only wackos that eat them raw, but they are so delicious), cauliflower, peas, peppers, celery, asparagus and I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten. Out of fruits, super, under ripe bananas, tomatoes, any and all melons and avocados (I know, kill me now). I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’ll eat my salads raw with weird toppings to provide a change of pace and cook the remainder of any vegetables that pass my lips (cucumbers and broccolli are so far not on that list, but I give it time and they’ll be there too).
The reaction never changed and was always immediate, which is why I always took it fairly serious. My mouth would get itchy, my ears would get hot and also itchy deep inside and occasionally, like with potatoes, my mouth would swell. With potatoes, I cannot even peel them anymore, therefore my kids are on potato duty.
I could always count on this reaction to occur, cause slight discomfort, piss me off at the prospect of crossing yet another vegetable off the list, and then I’d improve within a short period of time.
Well screw you cabbage and carrots for screwing up things for me. I grabbed one of those simple, pre-packaged shredded cabbage deals in the store the other day and made a salad with them tonight. Of course nothing happened inside my mouth so I thought all was swell. Then the sneezes interrupted my heavy “The Stand” reading on the iPad disgracefully. I mean seriously, interrupting my reading of all things, doesn’t my body know I’m a big ol’ whore and need no distractions from reading. Of course, the way I read I was so zoned into my book that I sailed way past the first base of discomfort and slid right into home plate of ‘holy shit I can’t breathe’ (sorry for the baseball lingo, watched a live game the other day).
I speak of my own experience, but I’m sure other people out there who have had these attacks are nodding their heads. I kept thinking it wasn’t a big deal, it’s just a bit of pressure compressing my lungs, no big deal it’ll go away.
Dammit, I had turned into a stupid teenager in a manner of minutes. What I didn’t realize was that I really wasn’t getting a whole lot of oxygen and probably wasn’t thinking very well at this point. My throat was in agony from the constant spasm of the heavy bark attempting to expel whatever anomaly my lungs had dreamt was choking me. My lungs were on fire from those same spasms. My chest was heaving attempting to work harder to get more air into me. I still didn’t panic as it was a feeling that came back strong and clear and I knew what to do.
Brew some effing coffee. I, of course, almost cried when I realized I was almost out, but made a wee pot instead of giving up and heading to the ER. By this point my husband was starting to notice that something was up. And before anyone starts thinking he’s a Duck ass for not noticing before, he has a very valid excuse. We’ve been attempting to spiffy up our house and he had the compressor running with his nail gun and table saw putting up pretty boards (crap I’m tired, I can’t think of the words) on our ceiling. As a person who has had these attacks before, I didn’t want to cause alarm when I didn’t think there was one. I was probably wrong, but I’m not dead so I must’ve been right, right?
I sat, read, coughed, and attempted to drink coffee and that’s when the inevitable happened.
Mom phoned (hey mom).
Oh shit I knew I was in trouble. Dh answered the phone and I thought the silence spoke for itself when he told her that I couldn’t talk right now. At that point, I literally couldn’t talk. Not only wasn’t there enough air for me to form words, but every time I tried to talk and tell dh what was happening, a coughing fit ensued and pained me (he guessed). As soon as he got off the phone with her, assuring her that I was alright, I texted her to reassure her. I don’t think she believed me, but I had faith in my old friend, good old caffeine, to get me through the night.
It worked like a charm and by just before 11 pm I was somewhat back to normal. My throat is still on fire, and my chest is hurting and with the caffeine pulsing and buzzing through my system I won’t sleep the night….
But I can breathe.
p.s. don’t worry mom, I’m fine, I’m calling the Dr. in the morning. This will NOT happen again.