Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Fuck You, Asthma
Asthma is the chronic inflammation of the lining of the lungs.
Many famous people have had asthma, including Mathew Broderick, Marcel Proust, and Che Guevara. Mathew Broderick was suffering throughout filming "Glory," a movie about the Civil War involving horses and smoke. Marcel Proust worked from bed, crippled by his lack of oxygen. Che Guevara used a rifle as a crutch through three revolutions, but while suffering an attack, bedridden, he was captured and executed in Bolivia.
Jack Morgan has asthma, too.
I read a book by Betsy Lerner that said that writers are often drinking asthmatics. That was the first time I was happy about having my disease.
It's what they call a hidden disability. It's a secret I keep when I am out with friends and my chest starts to tighten. I also hide it from lovers so they won't worry or get freaked out. None of my friends today have seen me have an attack. It is an embarrassing event.
Nicholas Cage in "Kiss of Death" said asthma was like breathing through a straw.
I think it's more like a fish dying. When a fish dies in or out of water, their mouths open wide. They suck in air or water and seem not to let it back out. They try valiantly to breathe but their bodies can't absorb the oxygen no matter how much air they take in. Human lungs fill, but nothing you need stays. There's coughing, your body trying to get rid of something that isn't there. Your bronchial tubes think there must be something poisonous in the air affecting the lungs, so they constrict, crating an old man emphysema wheeze. Every muscle tightens, all your skin goes hot. Fingers tremble, and their nails turn blue. And like a fish, you still try to suck in oxygen. Sometimes medicine works, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you have to go to the hospital, and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you live, sometimes you die. It almost always happens at night while everyone is sleeping.
For me, most attacks are only noticeable to the person having it. I hide like a Doberman dying in the shadows, hoping I'll get better soon enough for no one to notice. But the last two nights have been pretty bad ones. I am very sick right now.
I once went to the beach, hoping the fresh air would save me, lying on the sand like something the ocean rejected; that was the worst attack I've had in years. Someone had to carry me into a car and drive me to the hospital. I came scarily close to dying on that one. Ten years later, this attack is not nearly as bad, but it's pretty horrible, and you never know if you're going to get better with asthma. This might be the one that does me in. I haven't really slept for two days.
But I am determined to live like a normally-lunged person. I never let people see me like this, I never let it affect my life. When I am in the hospital, it's kind of hard to hide that from people, but I have signed myself out and gone back to life against their hardy admonitions. I have driven a car so messed up on all the drugs they gave me, I laughed about surviving the ride home. I don't take medicine anymore. I disagree with doctors who don't have asthma and don't know what it's like to live with something that might kill you some day. I never believe what they say because the only thing they ever want to do is make you more dependent on the drugs they're pushing. My lifestyle is much too active and spontaneous for that. If that means almost dying every five years or so, so be it. I would not die in the company of the world's best quacks, prodding me with needles, all of us wearing masks. I also refuse to stay in bed. Marcel Proust had it pretty bad, but no matter how bad it gets, I will crawl outside with a rifle as a crutch. I will travel and hike and camp and exercise, all things advised against by the world's leading MDs.
I am getting angry now, so I am gong outside to drink the only medicine I allow myself: coffee. strong coffee every morning, a strict diet, and daily exercise are the only way to combat asthma. As for my current attack, the worst has passed. I think tonight will be a better one. If not, that's fine, too.