Monday, April 18, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Lungs Of Fire: Asthma (by Melissa)

I hate my asthma.
Pic by Voxel 123

There is really nothing worse then not being able to breathe, I don't think. Here's what it feels like to me. I know when I am around a trigger. The scent of a very strong perfume, for instance. I sometimes know before I even feel the symptoms that I am going to be in agony very, very soon.

I try to run as far away as I can from the smell. Sometimes I am very lucky and get away quickly enough that I don't have a reaction. If I can, I throw my coat or shirt over my face to try to stop myself from inhaling the scent any further as I get as far away from it as I can.

This works about 30% of the time if I can get away. Most of the time I have to break out the rescue inhaler so that I can continue to breathe. Thank you to the person that felt the need to bathe in cologne, my lungs are on fire.

Not every time I can get away from the offender. Lets take my last plane ride for instance. It started out very pleasantly. We got on the plane in Richmond and had to stop in Norfolk to pick up some more passengers. It's a relatively small charter plane that can hold 120 or so people and I fully expected that someone would board wearing a bit of perfume.

I didn't expect there would be more than one of them who felt the need to bathe in it. Or that they would be seated directly behind me. Silly me.

So I spent the rest of the flight from Norfolk to New Jersey feeling like I had fire in my lungs. The rescue inhaler was no match for Mr. wearstoomuchcologne and Mrs. cottoncandynastybodyspray directly behind us. Even my mom, sitting next to me on the plane, was choking and gagging.

Now, we were spending the weekend in a casino. Smoke filled paradise of losing all of your money, yay! Honestly, we had so much fun though, even if we came home a little lighter in the wallet. I made a point of staying in the non smoking part of the casino because I know cigarette smoke is another trigger for my asthma. Not quite as bad as perfume, but I wasn't about to chance it. Keep in mind, I am an ex smoker. I never wanted to be an ex smoker that turned my nose up at people who smoked. I laughed at ex smokers like that. But it's different when you have asthma.

I find a machine I want to sit at and insert my 20 dollars. I am playing happily, waiting for the lovely waitress to bring my white russian. I have found the asthmatics mecca in a casino, a whole room that is non smoking. Granted, the room isn't large and the machines are older, but I will take what I can. I was happy for spinning reels and clean air.

Sniff. Sniff. IS THAT REALLY? I look right next to me and I will be damned. This lady is crouched over trying to hide the fact that she is smoking a cigarette. I was so mad that I knew I would make a scene, and a pretty bad one. I mean let's face it, how many people have asthma that's as bad as mine? Not many. Was she trying to kill me? No. Was she an inconsiderate jerk? Oh yes, very much so. But I had bigger things to deal with, like throwing my shirt over my face and getting away from her as fast as I could to save my lungs the agony. Besides, between the smoke and me going off on her I would have assuredly had a full blown attack and those are pretty scary.

I never did get my white russian.

So yes, right now I am hating my asthma. I just started a new medication regime so hopefully it gets better. And we are in allergy season so I am pretty sure that's making things ten times worse. Yesterday I was feeling pretty weepy and emotional about it thinking "How am I going to go into public again and not fear running into someone with a ton of perfume? How will I fly again? What if it is always like this for the rest of my life?" Seriously, the thought of becoming a hermit sounds pretty good when things that trigger your asthma can make you feel like you are dying.

I will end with this funny, or not so funny, story of how I handled the ride home on the plane. Apparently with this trip we took on the charter plane you keep your same seats on the way home as you had on the way up. So I had Mr and Mrs lovesperfumeandcologne behind me, once again. I was hoping they would be left in Atlantic City, but no dice. I had remembered my doctor recommending I use a surgical mask when I go in public to help me from going into an attack. Well clearly I had no surgical mask, but I did have my coat. So I sat the entire flight with my coat over my nose and mouth. Literally all you could see was my eyes and top of my head. Did it call attention to me? Yes, it did unfortunately which was embarrassing. But could I breathe? Yes, I could and the flight home wasn't nearly as bad.