Having just celebrated my 7th anniversary of the adult onset asthma, I have reached a few conclusions:
- Asthma doesn't draw the line at the asthmatic, it screws with everyone they love
- When you're in the grip of an attack, panic sets in no matter how much you wish it wouldn't
- It makes you say things you regret later (provided you can talk)
Case in point, The Old Goat and I went down to the sports bar for a pizza and a beverage Saturday. The University of Washington was playing in the March Madness tournament and TOG is a basketball fanatic. I vastly prefer football, so I was just along for moral support!
(One of the things I love most about this state is that they've banned smoking in bars and restaurants so I can go anywhere now and not worry about my lungs)
So there I was perched on my stool enduring the mayhem taking in the atmosphere when I realized my lungs were taking in something wretched. It happened so fast, I was caught off guard. I took a couple of breaths to be sure... yup, no warning cough, just mega attack.
I grabbed for my inhaler, something that happens so rarely in public that TOG actually tore his eyes glanced casually away from the many screens to see what my problem was. When the first two hits had zero effect and my chest continued to tighten, TOG suggested I slip out quietly and see if fresh air would help.
While outside, I began to ponder whether I'd be able to get back to my stool. One of the side effects of a mega attack (for me) is the inability to make a good decision. I hit the inhaler for the third time and made a beeline in the door for TOG and hoped he'd take over the decision making while I focused on the whole "in with the good air, out with the bad" routine.
TOG quietly pelted me with questions... had it helped? did I need to leave? could I drive? should we go visit the lovely new ER?
Then I said the most horrible thing. In hind site... so unfair to TOG. So unfair...
"I don't know, just don't let me die here." I whispered.
Granted, my chest was super tight and painful, and I could not exhale to save my life. I was trying to squelch the panic, but it would take a better person than me to not panic at the inability to catch my breath. But to throw it all on TOG like that... Wretched.
TOG coached me through inhaler hits at regular intervals with the option of ER if it didn't improve quickly. By the time I got to about six, I finally felt my chest start to loosen. On seven, I was able to take a decent breath. By eight, my hands were shaking from the meds but I was breathing. And it was then that the guy who had been sat down next to me right before the attack came back from the bathroom... soaked in cologne.
Apparently, I had been exposed to a portion of his chemical cocktail without getting the actual scent. TOG and I immediately changed seats, which probably looked odd to the guy, but who cares. I was breathing!
I try to turn each lung episode into a learning experience and yet sometimes, there's just nothing to learn about managing my asthma any better. It is what it is.
And I continue to balance being both grateful and horrified at the role it forces TOG to play. He blows off any apology because he knows I do everything I can to control my asthma.
Which leaves me with the conclusion that basically, asthma just sucks. And blows.