Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Invincible asthmatic no more

Since I've started writing about asthma three years ago my asthma has been perfect.  This has meant that much of what I write on this asthma blog  has been based on asthma memories.  Yet that all came to an end last weekend at hunting camp.

It had been so long since I had a really severe asthma attack I started to feel like an Invincible Asthmatic, or one who feels he's never going to have that really bad asthma attack again.  It's simply not going to happen.  He's sees his asthma doctor regularly, takes all the best asthma medicines correctly, and has very good control of his asthma.

So then his asthma becomes under such great control that he decides he can live a completely normal life.  In my family, normal for a guy is going to hunting camp with the guys and having some fun.  Normal is not packing your own sheets and pillows and using whatever is in the cabin. Then when you're done having fun you sleep in the dusty and musty cabin, the same place where the guys smoke their cigars.

Yes, that's what I did.  I drank a few beers -- not toooo many, yet just enough so I didn't want to risk driving -- and observed as a huge stack of wood was burned. Every guy at camp stood around the fire, and the fire burned so bright that you could see the faces of everyone, and you could see as far back as the cabin as well as you might at noon.

I stood by the fire until there was nothing left but red and blue flames amid hot coals.  It was a great fire, and as the crowd of guys filtered away toward the cabin, me and three of my brothers hung around the pile of smoking ash for quite some time.

Around midnight I decided I had enough and entered the cabin.  As soon as I entered the door cigar smoke hit me and in my surprise I inhaled deep. My throat instantly burned.  I looked down and my little brother Tony was sitting in a chair by the door smoking his cigar with a big, cool grin.  He was being normal.  He was having fun.  Yet he was disregarding my dad's rule:  no smoking in the cabin when Rick is around.

I don't enforce that rule:  my dad does.  I think if the guys go to camp they should be able to be guys, and part of being guys is doing things you can't do at home, like drink or smoke cigars and use ribald words.  Yet my dad remembers the days he spend with me when I was a kid in the hospital and enforces the rule.

As I was closing my bedroom door I heard dad telling Tony to put out his cigar in the cabin.  Then I lied down on the musty smelling pillow and covered myself with the dusty blanket.  "One night and I'll be fine," I thought.  "All I have to do is make it one night.  My asthma's been fine, so I'll be fine.

Then a coughing fit hit me.  My throat and chest started to burn.  My breath came in short gasps.  I couldn't take in a deep breath.  I tried over and over and no breath would go in. 

I took 2 quick puffs on my albuterol inhaler:  no relief.  I took 2 more:  no relief came.  I took several more:  no relief.   I sat up and heard snoring.  Uncle Timmy had already fallen asleep in the bed next to mine.  At first I was afraid my gasping would wake him, then I didn't care.  I was in full panic mode.

This is the kind of crap that happens when you are a goofus asthmatic, even if you're a goofus asthmatic for one day.  I listened as the other guys said their good-nights and listened as the floor creaked as the guys walked to their respective rooms, and heard footsteps up the steps.  I heard doors slam one after another.  And then there was silence.

Now you might be thinking:  why didn't he just tell his dad or brothers he was having an asthma attack.  The answer to that was simple:  what are they going to do?  I had been drinking, and so had all of them.  You see, we didn't come to the cabin to gossip and talk about tooth ferries, we all came to the cabin to do things we aren't allowed to do when we are home.  So I didn't want to bother any of them.  And even if I did bother them, not one could drive me anywhere anyway.

This reminded me of when I was a kid and was having an asthma attack yet didn't want to bother my parents.  I didn't want to ruin their sleep. So I decided to tough it out, just like when I was a kid.  I tried to sleep, yet sleep never came.  So I went into the kitchen and sat in a chair.  "If I could only fall asleep everything would be all right.  

Yet I did fall asleep.  And I had dreams I was trapped.  One dream I was trapped in a room and finally escaped, only then I couldn't move my arms or legs.  My dreams were only fitting, because in real life I had air trapped in my lungs, and I was trapped in the cabin, and I was all alone suffering from the worse asthma attack in years.

By morning I didn't feel much better, and left before my dad even made breakfast.  Breathing was easier back home, yet it took a few days of taking it easy before my breathing was back to normal.

The only reason I'm writing this here is to make the point that even the best asthma expert can be a goofus asthmatic.  Yes, and it's only the goofus asthmatic who thinks he's also an invincible asthmatic.

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