Tuesday, May 19, 2009
air, where hath thou gone?
When I was a young girl, I had an impossible ongoing debate with my mother. The foundation of such divide: I believed I could see air. Yes, you got that right, AIR. No matter how many ways she tried to tell me that air was invisible, I insisted. "You may not be able to but, I, obviously am more special because I can see air.
(I know what you're thinking: "you are special alright" ;-)
Having grown just a teeny bit, I have come to value the existence of air in a completely different way. It's invisibility is now often felt rather than seen.
As a teenager, I distinctly remember watching my mother clutch my baby sister in her arms as she coughed, wheezed, and gasped for air. She would take my sister into the steamy bathroom where we all waited as time stood still for her to breathe normal again.
It was not for want of seeking medical attention that my sister's asthma went undiagnosed for years. But like my grandmother who treated mostly with natural remedies, my mother employed any and all natural remedies at her disposal to keep my sister breathing, alive. Years later when my sister was finally diagnosed with asthma, we were introduced to the nebulizer.
Although the years slowly went by, every spring when my seasonal allergies were in hyperactivity, I would notice that it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. That person grew noticeably heavier each year and the simple act of breathing became a bit more challenging. Air, where hath thou gone? I went to see my sister's allergist in search of an answer and was told that I had asthma.
Although I had not given much thought before to asthma in and of itself, it was now brought to the forefront of consciousness. My aunt, who I could relate to on every conceivable level, also lived with asthma. She and my sister were invaluable in my crash course education. We began having in-depth discussions, especially following an episode, and in great detail we would explain what an asthma attack felt like. Some how, listening alone, was enough.
I now can never forget when my aunt was having an awful week with seemingly nonstop asthma attacks about eight years ago. She went to the hospital to seek medical attention. She was released shortly thereafter as she emerged from immediate distress. That night, as was custom, we spoke on the telephone.
She described the preceeding asthma attack in these exact words:
"Girl, it felt like I was taking my last breath."
"Auntie, don't worry. You know that's how it feels," I said. "Make sure tonight you have the medicine already set up in your nebulizer. Go to bed and get some rest. I'll call you in the morning to see how you're feeling then. I love you."
Around 2 a.m. the next day, my aunt had her final asthma attack. She took her last breath at home, on the nebulizer, waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Posted by SE'LAH... at 7:48 PM