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ting Asthma - Part 1
by: Richard Lowe, Jr.
My wife has asthma. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for anyone else to understand what that means and implies. If you have not had to care for someone with asthma, you cannot even begin to comprehend what it is like to deal with this condition. When I mention it to someone and they start telling me what they think, I have to control my feelings ... they do not and cannot understand. I restrain myself because they think they are being helpful. It's the same kind of thing when a single person gives a married couple advice on their union, or someone without kids thinks he knows how to raise them.
So what does it mean when I say my wife has asthma? It means her life is in constant danger. Every single day that she's breathing is a good day - because she survived the night. A week without gasping is a luxury, and a full month without an asthma attack is almost unheard of. What today really means is another day of breathing - it may be a difficult day or a good day, but there is always the knowledge that breathing is the most important thing.
You see, breathing is something that most of us take for granted. We never think about it, never need to be concerned about taking that next breath. Personally, the worst trouble I have had with my own breathing is a bad cold - my nose was stuffed and I had to use my mouth.
My wife, on the other hand, has to think about breathing all of the time. Some days she breaths fine, others are difficult. Breathing problems are in a special class all of their own - it's not like, say, having problems going to the bathroom, a cold or throwing up. These things all are minor compared to not breathing. You see, with breathing problems there is no time to think. You've got just minutes or even seconds to make a decision and get into action.
I discovered my wife had asthma soon after we were married. It was news to her also - she had never had asthma before, although her child had attacks when he was younger. So one day, out of the blue, Claudia came home because she had difficulty breathing ... and I didn't have a clue what to do.
This is a very unusual circumstance for me ... not knowing what to do. I am very intelligent by any measure and I make a strong point at knowing how to handle just about anything in my life. Before this time, no matter what the emergency was, I could and did handle it. Yet here I was with my wife having difficulty breathing. Over the next few days I learned a little bit. One thing I learned real fast is not al doctors are created equal. You see, even though our doctor visits were covered under insurance, our doctor would not accept any insurance. She ran a strictly cash operation. So on top of having a medical crisis we had a financial one - we had to pay the doctor then wait for the insurance company to pay us back. This severely limited our options at a time when we really needed options.
So when Claudia had breathing troubles we rushed over to the doctors office and asked for help. The doctor gave her a shot of adrenalin to correct her breathing. I watched in awe as my wife trembled from an injection of the same stuff they use to start a person's heart if it has stopped. I wondered for a moment if the "cure" was worse than the disease. The wonder soon stopped as Claudia's breathing settled down and she could take a breath without gasping. Her color returned to her normal pink - she had been slightly purple in hue., and the doctor prescribed something called Prednisone.
The next few weeks were not good weeks. You see, I didn't know it at the time, but Prednisone has some side effects. The most important one being that large doses tend to make a person a little bit psychotic. What I'm saying is my normally calm and collected wife became the "She Devil From Hell" ... but not so much to me or my son. No, her frustration was taken out on the cat (Baby).
That poor cat went through hell for those weeks. I had to protect him several times from the wrath of my wife for some new offense ... it appeared to her that the cat was trying to annoy her and make her miserable. I do believe that Baby used up at least two lives during those weeks ... and he only survived because my son and I protected him.
There were several trips to our local doctor during this first year with asthma. We noticed that the disease was not getting better, and our doctors did not really appear to know what they were doing. Their answer was more Prednisone and more adrenaline ... so we decided to see a specialist.
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