Archive | March, 2014

I don’t want to be sick

19 Mar

I don’t want to be sick die

I often fear getting old, becoming weak and vulnerable; or even dying young from the dreaded C word with nothing to show for my meager existence. Over the years I’ve noticed the wrinkles on my parents hands and have realized that they are slower and more tired than they were before, and it only draws more attention to my own sore back and the laugh lines that peer from below the surface of my skin. They’re becoming less and less bashful and remind me that I am in fact an adult and can no longer, for practical reasons, be careless and carefree.

So with panic in my throat, and denial in the back of my head, I moisturize, hydrate, and update myself on the latest antioxidants and Superfoods. Yet despite these cautions, I still put myself in less-than-ideal situations for my survival.

I struggle to breathe sometimes.

Not because this fear and responsibility overwhelms and consumes me, but because my body physically doesn’t allow me to breathe. It’s too protective, and even more neurotic than my mind, and thinks harmless things – dust, cats, cold, humidity – are out to get me. So my bronchioles overreact and tighten, hiding from the imminent danger that isn’t there.

I’ve had asthma all my life, but that hasn’t kept me from hanging out with the cool smokers and playing with the sassy feline that very well could send me to the emergency room again. I pretend I’m ok and that the cough is just a cold that is coming on, and I’ll be able to sleep it off. I skip my medication because I ‘don’t need it’, and sit in the backyard in the summer rather than in the air-conditioned safety of the indoors because vitamin D will combat any ill effects of ragweed.

The magnitude of my condition didn’t hit me until recently when a chest X-ray came back showing what looked like fibrosis in my lungs.

My lungs are scarred. Lung tissue that’s been scarred won’t regenerate. I’ve reduced my already limited capacity to breathe by being stupid. What exactly this means for me, I don’t know. But a few fears may materialize.

I will never have a dog.

I won’t be able to go outside if it’s too hot, too cold, too dry, or too wet.

I will have to hold my breath every time I leave a bar or restaurant until I pass the congregation of smokers that hang out by the doors.

I won’t be able to exercise or be active spontaneously because I need to time my inhaler dosing.

I am going to create a super sterile living environment to protect myself from asthma which will end up promoting asthma in my children.

There will be an apocalypse and I will fail epically at Survival of the Fittest when my nemesis blows dust in my face and kicks my inhaler out of the reach of my extended arm after I collapse to the floor grasping my chest.

I am not healthy.


I understand that there are far worse things that could have been said to me in that waiting room that day, and I understand that there are far worse things that people need to live with and die from. Maybe I just feel that this is just the beginning of the dark road of invincibility, for myself and for my parents, and I’m not ready to accept that yet. I’m not ready to give up control.

But I know that panic and dread will only make things worse and take away from the quality of my life. The last time I had to go to the emergency room with shortness of breath, the intern who saw me wore a “Keep Breathing, Keep Loving” sweatshirt. My fears consume me and the most appropriate thing to do is to in fact breathe.

The irony of that is not lost on me; I just don’t know whether to feel enlightened or enraged by this.