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.