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July 13, 2000

A Little History

When I was a young child there wasn't much information available about asthma. I was less than three years old when I had my first attack and my parents didn't know what the hell was going on. They took me to the doctor and weren't told much of anything about what was going on. The only thing they learned was that I'd had an "acute asthma attack". They, of course, didn't know what the hell that meant, but they bought the medicine prescribed and followed the doctor's orders.

Over the next eight or so years, I was in and out of the hospital. There was never any information or help provided for my mother while all of this was going on. She and my father divorced when I was three and so she had to deal with my illness almost all by herself. When I was in the hospital, my grandparents would be there with me while my mother worked. As soon as my mother got off of work she would come to the hospital and stay there until it was time to go to work again. I still don't know how she did it, since we've always been beyond poor.

The worst attack came in the old trailer at Gaslight Village. I only remember snipits of this day and the rest I was told. I was having an asthma attack, and for those of you who don't know - when this happens you can't take air in. I imagine it feels like what drowning would feel like - no matter how hard you try, you just can't get enough oxygen into your lungs. Anyway, along with the asthma attack it turned out that I also had the croup. Webster's online dictionary says the croup is "a spasmodic laryngitis especially of infants marked by episodes of difficult breathing and hoarse metallic cough". Or, in other words, I couldn't breathe out, either. They tell me I was turning blue. My Aunt Lea, who is a nurse, was afraid that she might have to do a tracheotomy on me to possibly help me breathe. What ended up happening was that my mom's boyfriend at the time, Ray, came and wrapped me in a blanket and took me to the emergency room. Why they waited for him to come I don't know and never thought to ask.. it was probably because they didn't know what the hell was going on so they didn't know what to do. I don't remember the hospital that time, but it appears I survived. My family has at times told me how happy they are that I grew "out of" my asthma. They've told me that there were times that they didn't think I'd make it - they didn't say that in so many words, but I know that's what they meant.

I was, believe it or not, a very thin and sickly child. Because of that I wasn't allowed to do many things. I couldn't go outside and play in the winter time because I'd get sick. I couldn't go outside and play in the summertime because I also have an allergy to almost everything. Many years later a drug called Prednesone that was supposed to help my asthma had the side effect of an increased appitite. And since I'd been denied everything when I was younger, my mother was pretty lax in telling me not to eat, and so I ate and I became the large guy you see today.

I was probably about four or five when they discovered how many allergies I had. They hadn't tested me for allergies, I don't think, until it was discovered that I was allergic to cats. My grandmother had a cat, Morris, and I was petting him one evening in their old house on Vermont street. When I was done petting him, I started rubbing my eyes. They felt really itchy. My grandmother saw me doing that and looked at my eyes and they tell me they were red and swollen. My grandmother put me in bed with a cold washcloth on my eyes and that seemed to work, and still does to this day. After that episode they tested me for allergies, and lo and behold - I was allergic to EVERYTHING! I think one time they even told me I was allergic to milk, but I could just be hallucinating. My cat allergy has gotten worse over the years. Now, instead of just making me sneeze and making my eyes itch, cat hair gives me an asthma attack. I went to visit a friend of mine, Nancy, in Colorado Springs in January 1999 and only stayed for three days. She had a cat and by the end of those three days I was a mess. My inhaler takes care of the problem, but not if I'm continually exposed to the cat hair. It takes less then probably fifteen minutes for me to start feeling the effects of cat hair. Dog hair can have the same effect on me, but it takes much longer and isn't as extreme.

All of this, and more, is why I get so pissed of when people make light of my allergy. If I say I don't want to go somewhere because it has cats, I don't want to go there. Don't fucking tell me I'll be alright, because you don't know. It might turn out that I will be alright - take my trip to England. The house we stayed in had a cat. I had little to no trouble there. But both Ben and Rodney have seen what a cat can do to me - Texas/Louisiana and Colorado respectively. So don't act all offended or mad the next time I say I'd rather not go to a cat infested house. And if I do agree to go, don't pick up the damn cat and ask me if I want to hold it, or put it in my face.

I started thinking of all of this because I think Ben gave me his bronchitis. I figure I'll go to the doctor in a few days if this cough doesn't go away, since it feels like an asthma cough - but I can't be sure that's what it is.

On a brighter note, we move two weeks from Saturday. And I reserved Danforth Chapel for Theryn and my wedding. Woopity-doo!

"Shut up, you don't know me..."



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