Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Affliction

I'm going to try to make this short. We all have our burdens but mine is that I suffer from asthma. If I keep myself healthy and wash my hands to avoid colds, it is kept at bay. For two years, I have not had a respiratory illness so I have not thought much about it. Unfortunately, asthma rears its ugly head when I get even mildy sick.

I have had it my whole life though I was not aware of it until I was 36. At that time, we traveled to Montana for Dave's parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary. Kaley was a baby and I was still nursing her so I did not want to be on a bunch of antibiotics. A mere cold had hung on to the point I could not breathe and I could not taste. Finally, the discomfort was so great that I went to the ER in Helena, Montana and the young doctor looked at me and told me in two minutes my problem was asthma. He wondered why nobody had told me before. After a couple of days of inhalers, I was fine.

When I was a child, I remember my chest would get "tight." During and after colds, my coughing would be horrendous. In the middle of the night when it was the worst, my father would put Vicks vaporub on a sugar cube and make me hold it in the back of my throat until it dissolved. Ugh! It was so nasty but you know, it usually worked. My toxicologist husband cringes at the idea of injesting Vicks vaporub and does not recommend it as a remedy. I also remember when I was not sick but walking uphill home from school on cold days, at Broadway and Lamborn in Helena, my chest would "tighten" up. Only three blocks more and it would go away. I thought it was normal.

Both of my parents smoked which certainly did not help my circumstances. However, the smoking was not the cause. I was born with twitchy lungs. The genetics of it all have been passed along to both of my children. From age 20 to 30, my affliction was not much of a problem probably due to the fact I was finally not living in a smoke filled home. Moving to the Seattle area and having goopy-nosed kids picking up all sorts of illnesses has caused asthma to be an issue for me for the last 20 or so years.

Asthma is why I walk everyday and keep my weight in check. Asthma is why I guzzle strong coffee a good share of the day. Asthma is why I fear people who have the sniffles. Asthma is why I had premature cataracts (along with backpacking without sunglasses at high altitudes). The cold that attacked me on Christmas Eve triggered my affliction. For me, it is never just the sniffles. Today is the first day I have been able to walk Apolo since Monday. I did my inhaler and walked my short route. It was ok. For the next two months, at certain points in my walk, my breathing will be compromised.

But eventually, it will go away.....again.