Posts Tagged ‘Asthma’

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.


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 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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very deeply…and my lungs gratefully drank in every molecule of fresh sea breeze, walking the beach. The yellow flag corresponded to the rougher-than-usual waves. It would have been nice to do some boogie boarding, but even though the air was 75, the water was less than that. Too chilly for me, but not for several brave souls, some of whom were bikini-clad snowbirds and undoubtedly from regions northward. To them, this was winter bliss.

And yesterday I saw a new sport: Beach Frisbee in the fog. This was very interesting to watch, and I’m not sure I was quite able to watch all of it, the fog was so thick. Today was much better, though – bright sunshine and a south wind brought us perfect weather -you, friend, and me – to hang out together on our beach chairs. There were enough auger shells washing up at our bare feet for both of us to make an interesting mosaic.

Hey, dear friend…and happy New Year to you. Thank you for inhaling the sweet warm winds here with me, leaving behind all the toil and chaos of the holidays, shall we? It was delightful, but like all good chaos, it is nice in some ways to return to the anchor of routine. Thus I shall go Tuesday.

Here in the deep South, every occasion signals certain food-related traditions. New Years is no different. On this first day of the year, we eat black-eyed peas for good luck, greens for wealth, and cornbread represents gold. Our next culinary tradition will involve King Cake, for Mardi Gras. More on this anon. The South is a nonstop parade of Very Important Occasions, none of which would be complete without food. Really fabulous food. Do not wonder why states in the South consistently rank highest for obesity. It is decidedly poor breeding and manners to refuse food offered. You simply must have some. And you are never sorry, it is always so, so good. I’ve figured out portion control is key, however.

And exercise. It’s okay to partake in all this good stuff and then park on the rocking chair on the front porch to wave at your neighbors going by. As long as you eventually get up and join them as soon as your food settles…because the neighbors going by are walking their dogs or biking or running or such – they are exercising in one form or another. Well, most of them. Okay, well probably not most of them, if the obesity stats are valid. Anywhoo, we still sit on the porch and wave at folks. And they wave back.

I am one of the post-meal-post-rocking chair movers, training for a half-marathon coming up very shortly (ten miles is Monday’s assignment). It is not my first, and the last one I did, I did 3 years after my first marathon. I did the marathon in honor of our child with Down syndrome, and he ran with me the last 2 blocks, crossed the finish line, and received my medal. I figured if he could run the kind of marathon he does every day battling his mental and physical health challenges, I could push myself to do some small token of what he accomplishes. Speed demon I am not:

Don't wait till life's finish line to get around to what you want out of life! Give it a shot - NOW!

The thing is, I have asthma. Shielded from all manner of athletics as a child out of my parents’ fear of asthmatic complications, I was never permitted to know exercise as a part of life. Then in 2003, while pregnant with child #3, our child’s occupational therapist prodded me one day, insisting I, too, could complete a marathon. I thought she was crazy. But she handed me a training book, cheered me on, and before I knew it, I had gone from running between our mailbox and the neighbor’s and pooping out the rest of the way, to running two mailboxes away, then three, then around the block, then around bigger circuits, until the goal was within reach.

Somewhere in the middle of that I popped out a 10# 7 oz baby, with much ease, thanks to the ongoing training (childbirth is an athletic event, I am convinced). Ironically, the more I ran, the more I found my lung capacity increased, and I relied less on my inhalers and had fewer asthma attacks. And I hatch my best ideas on my runs.

Oh, and I do not run the whole way, like those go-getters who actually run entire distances. No, I’m the tortoise plodding along at a slow jog as you pass me at a good clip. Yes, I even WALK parts of the way. Run 3 minutes, walk a minute, or whatever pace works at any particular moment. I’m also the one passing many runners at the 25 mile mark, when all their insistence on running the whole way gives way to inevitable fatigue and pain. I pace myself, and along with my trusty iPod, slow and steady wins the race. Well, um, finishes the race, anyway. Good enuf for me.

Such is the nature of achieving any goal. Believe + start small + allow yourself days to go backwards, as long as most of your days are forwards. I don’t know what your resolution might be, but whatever it is, don’t give up. And if you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for the sake of somebody else who believes in you.

Because Somebody does, whether you realize it or not.

Inhale deeply, get the most out of each life-giving instinct you have to do good, to go forward. Feel the oxygen…feel it energize and propel you forward into your destiny to make yourself and the world a better place.

Breathe with me, here at the seashore…

God, thank you for every breath, for every friend, for every opportunity – give us wisdom and motivation to do our very best…for You.

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