Have you ever had an asthma attack? I’ve had asthma literally as long as I can remember. I was born premature so my lungs did not get a chance to develop enough.
As a child, the doctors all thought the difficulty breathing were my attempts to gain attention. One doctor even told my mother to let me pass out, it wouldn’t do any harm. I never heard the word asthma applied to my case until I was in my 20s. When I had an attack, I would just have to prop myself up on the couch and wait for my breath to return… Sometimes four days later. A trip from the couch to the bathroom could delay the process of breathing normally.
I say breathing normally but I do not mean it. My normal is not normal for non-asthmatic people. I’m doing better, but I am still always out of breath. Breathing is on my mind every single day of my life. I can never turn my back on it. Just like anyone with a chronic disease. It is ever present.
I have had so many attacks in my life. Most I recovered from just by sheer stubbornness, which I do not promote as a way of handling this. I have landed in the hospital several times with extreme attacks. One in particular never leaves me.
I was in my 40s and doing home parties as a side gig. Many of my asthma attacks, especially the most severe, were brought on by cat dander. So I’m doing a party in the dead of winter. The temperature is hovering around zero. The extreme cold is another trigger. The house I’m at has six cats. The moment I walk in, my lungs immediately start to close.
I made a commitment and I was going to honor it so I continued on because I am that stubborn. As the night, the Neverending night, my breath grew more and more shallow, to the point not much air is getting in or out.
As your body reacts to the decreasing amount of oxygen, your body temperature rises to where it feels like it’s hovering around 150. Standing outside in the zero temperature and I was still profusely sweating. Your muscles get so tense that it takes days for them to not hurt any more. But before the attack is over, they start violently shaking from the now lack of oxygen. Your nails start to turn blue and all color drains from your face. You look like a corpse.
All the while, you are fighting the second worse part of the attack after lack of oxygen. The panic starts to intensify. Soon you lose the ability to comprehend what is going on around you as you mind singly focuses on staying alive. It’s like in the movies when a character is standing still and all the activity around them slowly disappears. As this happens you cannot speak because it takes breath to talk and you can’t concentrate on anything long enough to make a full sentence anyway.
Luckily I was not driving that night because there was no way I could. I got home and kept thinking if I could just sleep I would be better. Now by this time, I have used so much asthma medicine my heart is beating out of my chest, along with the adrenaline coursing through me. I was still in survival mode. Things were getting grimmer by the hour.
Somehow I made it to 5 am and I went downstairs to try some more medicine. I stood up, ran into the living room and yelled to Mike to call 911. My knees folded underneath me and everything went completely black. I was unconscious for the next four hours.
This is what Mike told me later. He ran downstairs and I was not breathing at all. He performed CPR. He said my eye were rolled up in my head and that I was turning blue. He got me breathing again and called my mother who lived right next door.
The ambulance came and they stabilized and took me to the hospital. They worked on me for a long time and I finally started to come around with no knowledge of what happened.
I was honestly spared from death. If Mike had not been home I would have perished right there on the living room floor and that is not an exaggeration. The memory of that night is clear as crystal some ten years later. The fear of reliving that experience is always somewhere in my mind.
Now what is the reason for telling that story now? It’s really simple. What happened that night pales in comparison to what the Corono Virus does to your lungs.
To those who think this is not serious, please think again. Lives depend on it. Do the right thing. Thank you