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thursday, december 20, 2001
just breathe

you never really appreciate breathing so much as when you can't, or when you can but with difficulty. even if you have periodic bouts of breathing trouble, if the problem lays dormant for awhile, then you really don't think about it. breathing is one of those things we just don't appreciate enough.

i am an asthmatic. however, i wasn't an asthmatic as a child. my asthma started when i was pregnant with my youngest. at first the doctor in the e.r. (not at my current hospital) thought i had some kind of flu or something and kept giving me cough syrup and antibiotics. let me tell you, cough syrup and antibiotics do nothing for asthma, and i almost miscarried. fortunately the miscarriage was stopped and the asthma caught and treated.

it took me a few years to get it under control. i have an inhaler i use everyday (twice) and another i use as needed. i haven't needed the second one for so long that the refills were no longer listed on my pharmacy record. after 2 or 3 years of daily doses of 2 different inhalers and winter breathing treatments - 1 or 3 every winter, i had my asthma under control. i stopped taking medication in the summer (since my activator is cold, damp air and california is far from cold and damp in the summer, this does make sense), then would start taking it again in september or october as things started cooling off. that way, once the real nasty weather hits in november and december, i've got the stuff in my system. for the last couple of years, i've not needed the second medication at all.

until this past fall.

i'm not quite sure what happened. my asthma has been gradually spiraling downward into the uncontrolled category. it's frustrating and depressing. then my doctor changed my regular inhaler, and the new one just doesn't cut it. i've called in on it, but he may be on vacation - not sure. but suddenly i needed the second med 2 or 3 times a day to control asthma attacks. when it first started, it had been so long that i didn't recognize what was going on and thought i was catching a cold. cold! there's the distinctive wheeze that starts in my lungs and ends up bubbling into my throat. then the tightening of the chest. finally a wheezing cough that can get pretty nasty. asthma. once it gets started, it gets pretty hard to call for any kind of help.

suddenly i appreciate breathing again. once an attack is started, it can take up to an hour to stop even with medication. i need more medication than i used to (oh, yes, i am going to try to switch back to my original inhaler and hope that helps get this mess back under control) just to get to the point where i can breathe without attempting to hack up a lung.

and asthma attacks are exhausting. first, i get worn out just from the experience. then add the adrenaline pumping medication and it becomes a real joy...NOT. once that stuff is in my system, i shake. i can barely write. i can barely type. if i have to get a breathing treatment, i can't even make a phone call i shake so much. once the medicine has done it's job, usually all i want to do is curl up in a tiny ball somewhere and sleep.

i am lucky though. i don't need an oxygen tank. i only get the attacks in certain kinds of weather and they can be controlled.

but i will never understand why people have to go out and screw up their lungs...and everyone else's, on purpose. all i want to be able to do is breathe. without wheezing. without trying to lose a lung.

just breathe.

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word of the moment:


to inhale and exhale freely; live; become perceptible; be expressed; to pause and rest before continuing; to feel free of restraint; to instill as if by breathing; to make manifest;

some synonyms:
be, exist, live; whisper

source: Merriam-Webster

Since July 9, 2000

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