Takes My Breath Away

March 1, 2010


I am living with asthma.  I haven’t had to do this until this year because at the age of 39 I developed it.  No rhyme or reason given – just one day a whole slew of foods that want to kill me and some lungs that no longer want to cooperate.

As I am learning, month by month, there are good periods where you feel back to normal and bad periods where breathing is an hourly challenge.  During one of the latest good periods I was off medication all together and thought perhaps I was home free.  I hadn’t felt that great in a long time.

Then about three weeks ago everything went sideways.  Inhaler after inhaler after inhaler coupled with antihistamines and decongestants so strong my lips were cracking and my hands were full of flaky, dry skin.  I can count at least two times I was moments from deciding to go to the hospital – and that scared the ever-loving shit out of me.

I can’t be around any sort of smoke.  Cigarette, BBQ or a burned pizza in the oven makes my airways seize up and the coughing fits begin.  Any sort of scented candle yields the same effect.  A strong perfume or cologne demands I sit at the opposite end of a room from you.  It’s nothing personal – I just really like breathing without distress.

I can manage what happens in my house for the most part.  Not always, but mostly.  The days my cleaning people come to the house can go either way.  I prefer to leave the house or stash myself in a guest bedroom upstairs until they are done.

But leaving the house has become a challenge as well in these bad cycles.  Taking Leah to the theater is a crap shoot – will the person next to me be bathed in Bed, Bath & Beyond’s latest floral cocktail?   Can I deal with the potpourri in the doctor’s office today?  Or should I just wait until the very last minute and then walk into the office and rush through the lobby?  Or what the hell is in the air today that the mere act of walking to the mailbox is making me cough and wheeze?

On any given day I could be totally fine or completely frustrated with how my body is deceiving me.    I know that what I have can be managed, I just haven’t figured out the answer to it yet.  But I’m tired.  No, I’m exhausted.

I’m exhausted from the feelings of broken and sick and weak and from medicines and side effects and inconsistency and g-ddamnit I’m so sick of coughing.  I’m sick of having to carry big purses because small ones don’t accommodate two Epi-Pens and two inhalers with an extender.  A Fendi baguette girl I am not these days.  Good thing totes are in this season.

This week begins a new treatment – allergy shots.  Go three times the first week and get stabbed.  Bring your Epi-Pen in case you have a reaction!  Then if it goes well we’ll send you home with a whole slew of vials and you can stab yourself weekly in the comfort of your own bathroom.


So the adventure this week involves becoming a human pincushion for a bit.  Here’s to stabbing not making me feel stabby.  And to breathing again.

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6 Responses to “Takes My Breath Away”

  1. Knighton Says:

    Poor thing. I’m sure you’ll figure out the medications eventually, and the allergy shots are *supposed* to help. So says my asthmatic MIL, anyway.

    I got tested in January – allergic to EVERYTHING in Central Texas. Will be starting allergy shots myself, any day now. And, stupid EPI-Pens making me use a giant handbag, too, which I hate. That makes me stabby! Grrrr.

  2. Misty Khan Says:

    I was diagnosed with adult asthma at 23 – used to wake up struggling to breathe. Then after my first pregnancy, the asthma suddenly got better and now I only have to use an inhaler before I exercise. My allergies got better too so pretty sure they are related. My thoughts and prayers are with you – will say the Mi Shebeirach for you as well tonight ;-D Also, if your current course doesn’t get you some relief soon, you might want to consider something like the Holtze Wellness center – a bit more homeopathic, but a lot of the time asthma can be brought on by thyroid issues and few traditional MDs get thyroid. Just a thought.

  3. Amie aka MammaLoves Says:

    This is so frightening that it can come on from nowhere. Really makes me worry about what is in our environment and food. I know I need to be more vigilant.

    Wishing you clean, crisp air for breathing.

  4. Pammer Says:

    Thanks for the kind wishes, ladies — I’ll give these allergy shots some time to work, but the might look at “alternative” approaches as well.

    Amie – I have noticed a difference after switching to organic (mostly). Not sure it’ll fix everything, but Food, Inc. scared and angered me enough to make some serious changes. Let’s see how it works long term. 🙂

  5. Joyce Says:

    I totally feel for you! I do not have asthma but my sister does and she suffers the same as you. I have allergies but “allergy of the ear.” Not many people have heard of this but my eustachian tubes close down, which affects balance, in response to the same triggers you mention, especially strong scents. Someone else’s cologne in a confined space will make me dizzy enough to be incapacitated for hours. I hate the smell of Easter flowers in grocery stores, potpourri in specialty stores, etc. … It’s a tough problem to deal with.

    • Pammer Says:

      My mom has that ear issue – just clamps down and hello Vertigo (on a bad day). She’s had some ear tubes put in which seems to have helped.

      And I’m with you on the scents – WOW. But I’ll admit I miss perfume… I haven’t worn my signature scent in months — can’t wait to be able to tolerate it again. 🙂