It seems I am the asthmatic equivalent of the women who don’t know their pregnant until they go to take a poop and end up with an 8lb baby in the toilet.
Most people don’t know I have asthma. It was bad as a kid, but it got a lot better in my early 20s and I stopped needing daily inhalers.
Yoga, adulthood and lifestyle help me manage it. The only things that give me away are:
1. My daily nasal spray to keep my post nasal drip at bay & the lady handkerchief I always carry in my pocket.
2. Chest colds.
If I get a chest cold, it sits there angrily, taking my breath like a prisoner. It lingers, making itself comfortable in my pretty pink lungs, ravaging them until they are red and weary. They don’t happen often, so I get to forget about them as time passes.
I should know better. Now that I have kids, I am exposed to every possible germ, bacteria, virus or other gross, communicable thing Out There. I suspect my beloved offspring spend their days licking floors, toilets and doorknobs with the sole purpose of coming home to kiss me with their Petri Dish mouths just to see what happens to my immune system.
Thus, it was no surprise that on Monday I woke up with a little chest cold.
Quite frankly, I didn’t have time for it. So I just went along with my business.
I had a lot to do this week, and a Valentine’s Day party to host at my home for about 30 people on Friday.
In what I can only assume was a secondary attempt to inflict ailment/injury upon me, when I asked Miss A to come over to me to get dressed that morning, as I sat on the floor, she ran with arms extended and gouged a hole in my eye with her
* Luckily two moms in her class are a nurse and a doctor so they gave me a little exam, told me what to do, and I got on with my week.
So now I have both a chest cold I’m ignoring, and a blazing red dash of a hole in the white of my eye to ignore as well.
I made some tea, used my good eye to peruse my serious To Do List, and went on with my week.
I had playdates to host and a house to clean and kids to watch for friends.
cough cough cough
I had laundry to fold and Valentine’s decorations to buy and emails to write to coordinate picking up a boxspring from a friend.
cough cough cough cough
I had mattress comparison pricing to do, ballet class to get to, dirty dishes up the wazoo.
Then yesterday after school I waited to get Miss A, whose class’ exit was delayed due to Picture Day running late. I stood in the frigid air, gasping for breath, barely able to talk, for about 15 minutes. The bell came and went, the pavement cleared of other parents by the time her little gloved hand was finally in mine.
cough cough wheeeeze cough cough
Knowing Mr T would be scared at my lateness (their school pickup is at the same time, but 2 different doors), I lifted up Miss A in her thick winter gear, stuffed backpack on tight, and rushed to the front door to be buzzed into the office.
cough cough gasp wheeze gasp cough cough
I dashed into the office with a smile on my face and a breathy explanation for my son, whose worried expression washed away at the sight of me.
Then I got dizzy.
We walked into the hall and I had to sit in the chair outside the office for about 5 minutes to catch my breath.
The walk back to the car in the dry, cold air seemed to take hours, and I felt no relief until I was in my warm house sipping steamy tea swirled with honey. As soon as I could talk, I made an appointment with my doctor for this morning.
Today the walk from my parking spot at the medical center, across the lot, down the hall, into the elevator made me need to lean against the wall to catch my breath. I could barely speak when checking in, and the nurse apologized for making me wait since it was clear to her that I wasn’t well.
More coughing, wheezing, gasping, and breathy answers during my preliminary exam with the nurse, before the doctor came in.
Just listening to me talk in jagged breaths in between coughing fits made her furrow her brow. A lung check, oxygen monitor and more thorough exam made her step back at give me a look that said:
You are a dumbass. You have asthma and can’t breathe, yet it took you five days to come here. You don’t keep an inhaler at home, which makes me want to punch you in the arm. Stop being stupid, go get your meds, and check in with me so I know you didn’t die of putting Motherhood ahead of Breathing over the weekend.
What she actually said was that I have Bronchitis, an infection in my lungs. I need to be on antibiotics, an inhaler, and do nothing but rest for a few days. My asthma is making things a lot worse, and this whole not-breathing-well thing is very bad. I am contagious and shouldn’t do anything that would make me breath hard.
My first thought was Oh My God I can’t cancel the Valentine’s party today! The kids are so looking forward to it!!
I told her about the party, asked if I needed to cancel. She said I am contagious and can’t breathe, so I should cancel the party.
I asked if she was sure?
She crossed her arms, scowled at me and said Do I need to give you a note?
Her sarcasm made me love her a little bit, and get her point.
I can’t breathe and my biggest worry is breaking the news to my kids – and their friends – that we can’t have a party today. Once again I am putting Motherhood ahead of The Mom. I am concerned about making things go smoothly, making my kids happy more than addressing my own needs.
I. Can’t. BREATHE.
Clearly, I am an idiot who needs to reprioritize.
I promise I’ll reorganize my priorities once I catch my breath.