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Posts Tagged ‘Allergies’

I know, I know – you prefer pictures. I simply can’t capture this one on film, though, sorry. – even though a picture is worth a thousand (or 2k) words.

So cozy up here with your favorite beverage and set a spell, friend. Or drop on by again later when you have the luxury of time.

I’ll bet you’ve had your share of close calls, right? I’d love to hear about them in your comments and posts.

Once upon a time in my foolish younger adulthood, I met one of my 9 lives unexpectedly on one of my first days on this very beach. The sky, sea and heavens joined to beckon me into their beautiful array of azure, turquoise and cerulean.

Like a mountain to climb because it is there, I rushed out to greet the sea, focused on the very distant buoy bobbing on the horizon. I can swim there, I thought. I am invincible.

I swam there, alright, only to turn around and realize the horizon was suddenly nowhere to be found, the shore and my family were nowhere to be found, and I was a speck bobbing around in the middle of a great current of energy. It was probably not unlike the astronauts felt when they saw the earth lit up as they were in the darkest corners of space. Except they had the benefit of seeing the earth for perspective.

I saw nothing but big, undulating waves. And the buoy was much larger than life – I couldn’t even approach it without risking getting knocked out and dragged to the bottom of the sea, much less touch it like I was playing tag and the buoy was it, as I’d envisioned. No, I was it, and I was a long ways out, no clue how to get back in, and then the Awful Realization set in.

This Awful Realization was that I was so far out, that I shared the water with creatures who would enjoy me for supper. I had to tread water as I considered what my pace should be back to shore (if I could find it) and why (because sharks are attracted to quick movements and bling). Ditch the bling. Granny-stiff butterfly stroke for me, for an excruciatingly slow and long distance so as not to attract predators.

This is a friendly nurse shark. In a tank, where I prefer to make their acquaintance.

What are you supposed to focus on when you’re in that predicament? How the heck did Paul sing hymns in prison with his sidekick? Ah, yes…focus on things above, of course! It passes time, fosters hope and reassurance and all manner of courage.

What was this foolish mother of young children thinking?! Not of her offspring, certainly. I shamed myself until I was blue in the face.

Eventually, the shore came into focus. I was several hundred yards from my panicked, waving family. Somehow I was able to gently and slowly maneuver my swimming toward the correct position on shore, to where the tide deposited me accordingly.

Eventually.

Running has helped to increase my lung capacity and made me stronger in many ways. However, I still am not immune to whatever my body dictates, as an asthmatic. And last Sunday night, I had the mother of all asthma attacks, one like I’ve not seen since I was preverbal and unable to communicate what was happening.

Now that I am verbal, I am able to tell you what your asthmatic child (or anyone asphyxiating) is experiencing.

Picture me at the kitchen table, recharging my iPod, downloading some songs, fussing at the new version of iTunes which doesn’t display my personal iPod once I’ve purchased the songs.

Picture my teenager, home from yet another fishing trip, frying up his bass in Kentucky Colonel (what? your store doesn’t carry it?  Demand that they do!). The smoke rises from the oil. The lungs inhale the smoke. The doctor in the ER last October certified me as officially allergic to ALL fish, shell- and freshwater (now) – color me in denial. Just for eating, anyway. No biggie for being in the same room, right?

This is the cruelest of curses, the ultimate thorn in the side, living at the sea – can’t eat anything local. Okay, so I adapt. Now, we’re cooking up the fruits of the labor, and *poof!* suddenly my body rebels even at that. How cruel is THAT?

I am mindfully ignoring at first. I continue searching for the feature that will allow me to transfer my purchases to my iPod (ideas, anyone?).  My chest gets tighter. The smell is stronger.

I browse around the new version, still unable to decipher how to transfer my purchases, and the more I do, the thicker the fish smell, the thicker the mental fog. I am vaguely unaware of my chest tightening. I must find the right icon.

The second batch goes into the skillet. More fumes, more smoke, more icon-seeking. The Kentucky Colonel is divine, the fishy smell, not so easy. I block out the physical cues, just a few more buttons to click and surely I will unlock the key to the new version and all will be well for my next run.

My breathing is noticeably labored now. I am hunched forward, appearing to be locked onto the Apple screen in deep concentration. My lungs give out, but my back muscles give in and take over. Temporarily I am able to pretend that everything is normal and I am well and working on my iPod.

I am so engrossed in my efforts, I don’t realize a third batch of fillets hit the skillet, evoking yet a third round of sizzling fumes. It smells good, I am sort of hungry, not having eaten in hours, but somehow, I don’t think of eating. I am focused on the screen, hunched over even further. These are great songs. Must have. Must focus.

At some point I open my mouth to speak to my child to tell him how good it smells, how proud I am of his fishing expertise and now his newly acquired cooking skills, but the words evaporate into gasps. Only two gasps – I cannot spare the oxygen to make more than that.

Only then do I realize I am in trouble. I rise from the kitchen table (using my arms to prop me up – my trunk somehow doesn’t respond as easily) to retreat to the bedroom.

In the bedroom, I fumble, hunched over, to find my rescue inhaler. Damn, I was banking on the old one I’ve hardly ever used from early 2012 to carry me through – it always has. It suddenly doesn’t.

I plop on the floor, gasping harder, to find my steroid inhaler. It is new and never-used, but well-entangled in wrappings and trappings which I don’t have the wherewithal to free. I tangle with it; my son comes in to ask what to do with the leftover grease. He is able to unwrap it for me, but it is too late. I have no muscles functional enough, no oxygen left with which to draw it into my lungs. It is not my rescue inhaler, anyway. Nothing happens.

I am SCREWED.

I try my rescue inhaler again, to no avail. Visions of ODing on it dance in my head, but it’s probably defunct. I find my updated rescue inhaler in my purse, but I have no muscle in either my rib cage or my back with which to draw it up. I try anyway; the crystals harden on my vocal cords and never make it to my struggling lungs. Can’t talk OR breathe.

I use five different gasps to beckon to my son. Please. Come. Quickly. Please. Now.

He comes; he is able to respond by obeying me to call Daddy. Just before Daddy answers, he suggests we close off the bedroom door. I agree; he closes it. I get to the bathroom where we have a window air conditioner in place for the summer months when, just in case, things get a little too sticky (which they do). On a whim I turn it on even though it has been covered up since November. It infuses what seems to my lungs to be fresh oxygen to me.

I stand on strained tiptoe, trying to place my head directly in the main vent, as if it were oxygen. It IS oxygen. The forced air thrusts its way down my lungs.

My cheeks are burning hot, my head feels like it’s going to blow up. I am strained, shoulders taut and arms positioned in front of the air conditioner, gasping for oxygen. I later learn these are the signs of asphyxiation, preceded by the high blood pressure, preceded by the low O2.

I am disoriented. I have no idea what day it is, nor do I care. It does cross my mind that this must be what they talk about when someone with asthma can die of asphyxiation. Never me, I always thought. How quickly and unexpectedly this occurred. Never me. It won’t happen to me.

But here I was, blue nails, red face and unable to breathe. Only vaguely aware, surroundings and voices fading. For several minutes, I struggled. My last words before I lost touch were, to my child, “If I pass…out…before Daddy gets….here…call….911….”

What kind of hell is it for someone beholden to the sea, to develop an allergy to the contents therein?

I HATE er’s.  (And the above was after I was alert enough to even snap a picture, PTL!)

My previous 9th life was 2 years ago this week, when they did a “slash-n-gash” to save my life in yet another “It can’t happen to me” event, that one a “whaddya mean I’m internally bleeding to the point of death?” event. Never overestimate the danger of a high pain threshold.

I’m beginning to feel allergic to early March altogether – something always seems to happen. Maybe it’s God’s annual Lenten reminder to me to humble myself and appreciate each breath, each moment, each day of life. Each gift in each day.

All I can assume is that God has a purpose for me here, now, that He’s not done with me yet.

I hope you can assume the same for yourself.

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over, baby!

Trust that YOU have a purpose for Him, until then…

Now, here’s what I would have missed today had He taken me last night:

~A hug with a child destined for a life of institutionalization because his mother esteemed other men and drugs over him

~A hug with a child whose mother didn’t hear him or even turn around when he called after her, “I love you, mama!” as the door shut and locked, as he entered his first day of institutionalization

~Making a college football ball cap with an orphan whose father was murdered and whose mother is lost in drugs, because he aspires to play football with that team – and is talented enough to do so

~Playing car tag on the commute with drivers who think they can get there faster when there’s a fatal wreck ahead

~Helping a child with an extraordinary IQ understand why he still must employ basic social skills and not be critical even he knows his peers are giving him “stupid” answers to his unending questions

~Giving a stuffed animal to a child who was told that toys were for sissies and reassuring them that it’s okay to love

~Calming the tantrum of a child who once was tied up daily and……and working to earn their trust in adults again

~Convincing a child to lie down for quiet time after they spent most their infancy locked in a swing and left to cry for hours on end for months on end

Dear friends, what would God have YOU do today?

Trust that He has a specific purpose for you, no matter how small/insignificant or large/daunting it may seem. Rise to the challenge and trust that your duty today is of Godly purpose and importance.

Because, it is.

You would not be here if it were not meant to be so.

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Hey, God…

Today I read about a new drug that is showing promise in helping to “cure” Down syndrome. Do we really want to change those things that have been made perfect in Your image? You have said that our wisdom is but foolishness…and indeed, one can see the beauty and love in the face of any child with Downs, Your beauty, Your love. In weakness is Your strength, and many people have come to You through weaker people, as You touch us through them. They humble us, they teach us, they remind us of our priorities.

If people with disabilities did not exist, how would we learn and be humbled? What, then, would the order of our priorities be?

It is touted as scientific breakthrough, but at what point do we restrain ourselves from assuming we know what is best for another creation, just because they are different? Are we projecting our own fears upon them by thinking they must be suffering, when they may actually be perfectly content?

How can we possibly judge another’s perception of their quality of life?

Or are such “cures” merely for our convenience, to allay our fears and insecurities about suffering?

I am reminded of my food allergies, one of which is shellfish (ironically, despite my love of the sea). When others learn that I cannot eat, say, shrimp, I am inundated with expressions of pity and presumption, such as, “Oh, you poor thing! How awful for you! I bet that must be so hard not to be ABLE to eat shrimp!!!”

I don’t think of it as a disability…since the only shrimp I have tasted has caused such trauma and discomfort, I do not yearn for it; I am perfectly happy without it. It is not a pleasant thing for me to regret and miss, since I have not walked on the side of enjoying it. I am blissfully ignorant of the experience, thank you very much, and am perfectly happy with the rest of my diet.

Could it be the same for some others with certain disabilities, that they are entirely complete and fulfilled in the way they have been wonderfully made? Should we not carefully consider what projections we may have when we seek to “help” others and find cures?

Too, suffering has its place. It is not often sought, nor is it bearable many times…yet it blesses with gifts such as perseverance, tolerance, new coping skills, heightened sensory perception and deeper insight into others’ character and virtue, as well as our own. We find out quickly who our friends are, in our suffering.

Here on the seashore, I find broken shells, some of which are absolutely more interesting and beautiful than had they remained wholly intact. In the broken shells, you can see what they’re made of, you can see farther into them, you can see things you can’t see in their unbroken state. They are like snowflakes, each one entirely different from any other….a beautifully abstract medium that begs the imagination to fill in the spaces of its journey, its life, its purpose. The broken shell forces us to focus on those things outside our comfort zones, stretching and molding and growing us in ways we had not considered before. It demands that we pick it up and focus on it, instead of ourselves, instead of on the ideal, instead of on the perfect. Do we toss it back into the sea because it does not meet our standards?

God, may we have wisdom about and sensitivity to Your will. May we have the courage and zeal to embrace those things which we deem as difficult, painful and imperfect. May we resist the temptation to tamper with that which You have willed.

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