Asthma: The Boa Constrictor of Diseases
It’s the morning. I just got up and as I start to type these words I feel the tightness of my chest and wonder where I last had my Symbicort puffer. That’s the one with the red bottom. This little plastic lifesaver is unique in that it has a 1, 2 punch with two drugs in one inhaler. The first is a steroid called Pulmicort and this fast acting drug helps improve symptoms by decreasing irritation and inflammation. The second drug is called Foradil and it relaxes the muscle that lines the airways of your lungs and causes your airways to open up. Pretty simple, take the puffer and breathe easy. Right, I’ll just go grab that little bad boy, have a suck and all will be better.
I look over to the top of my dresser where I usually keep it; but, it’s not there. Shit! I can’t breath and I have no idea where the only thing that can help is located. It is in this moment of realization that sets most people with asthma apart from people with healthy lungs. The average person would probably freak out because they can’t breathe well; but, this is the worst thing you can do. Panic will only make symptoms worse. I check my jacket pockets, but it’s not there either. As calmly as possible, I search the house and I still can’t find it. “Where the hell is that thing,” I think to myself as the symptoms start to worsen in the worry of it all. My chest starts to become even more restricted. As difficult as it is, I try to fight the unbearable impulse to panic—though to some degree this is impossible. Retracing my steps I think back to where I last took my puffer. My Car! I rush to my ride hoping and praying to the Asthma gods as I simultaneously consider a plan-B if my puffer isn’t there. I can either go get a new one from the pharmacy or if I have no refills left I will have to take a trip to the hospital.
Glancing through the driver side window of my car I finally see it sitting there on the passenger seat. I hop in, grab it, “click-click” and inhale. The worst moment followed by an ecstasy of relief. Even hearing the sound of the clicking puffer before I inhale the drugs creates a sort of Pavlovian relief to the pain.
Taking a puffer in situations like this is easily one of the best feelings ever. I would say it is similar to the sensation one experiences during that moment when swimming to the surface of a deep pool of water, when you realize you have a few feet further than anticipated before you can gasp in a big breath of fresh air. When you finally do reach the surface you couldn’t be happier. Imagine this same situation again, only right before you get to the surface to take a huge breath of air, you are halted by an imaginary barrier and the only thing you have to reach the air above is a thin straw. This is what it’s like to breath during an Asthma attack and as I explained above, the more you panic, the thinner the straw becomes.
It is a unique pain knowing you need to breathe but can’t and it certainly isn’t much fun. I spent my fair share of time in hospitals growing up. One only needs to speak to my family to hear about the number of trips and vacations I’ve ruined because of an attack or even forgetting my puffer at home. The fact is that we all take things like air and even life for granted; but, our time here on Earth is precious and it is important to remember that. I must say that many of the other guests on this show have it so much worse than I do and their stories truly inspire me. I want to thank them for their courage and hope anyone reading this will go check out all the other great episodes of Sickboy Podcast. Big thanks to Jeremy, Brian and Taylor. What you guys are doing is so awesome and I wish you all the best of luck.
Thanks and breathe easy,