Thursday, January 21, 2016

Breathe In, Breathe Out

I talked to a couple tattoo artists last week.  My idea has morphed from butterfly to raven to owl.  Apparently in Polish folklore an unmarried woman who passes away is transformed into a dove, and a married woman is transformed into an owl.  And Leslie was very Polish.  That, and the psychopomp aspect (that owls guide the departed to heaven) make it a pretty good fit.  Still working on it though.  

Got some pricing information back from them too.  Whew!  Fun! Not inexpensive.


Ever since we got this cat I've developed allergic asthma.  We knew I was allergic when we got him.  But just really wanted to get Emma a "real" pet.  Fish just weren't cutting it anymore.  So Leslie and I decided to get a cat for Emma, and maybe I wrote about the process and maybe I didn't, but essentially we pretended that we were taking her to the animal shelter to see if they had volunteer work that she could do for them.  She volunteers in Glade Run's animal program and loves it, so we thought it would be a convincing story.

the happy day
The Humane Society had two kittens set aside and when Emma got there to "talk about volunteering" they brought two kittens in to play with her.  One was very shy and hid most of the time we sat and talked.  The other was very mischievous, exploring every nook and cranny, playing with Emma, and generally having adventures.  We told Emma that she got to pick one to take home and that she wasn't volunteering...she was getting a cat for her birthday.  And she loved it.  And loved him.  And loves him.

She still will randomly hug me and say, "I am so happy that Dobby is part of our family."

But the fucking cat makes me sneeze.  And claws the furniture.  And carpet.  And pukes on things.  And...has adventures.  But he's family.

So when I first approached the doctor two years ago about what I could do to help my allergy symptoms with the cat and he said, "Get rid of the cat." I told him, "Nope.  What else ya got?"

On again off again doctoral care and two years later I returned to the same doctor (who'd left the practice, disappeared, then rematerialized at another practice) and said again...Alright...I've tried this, this this and this...what else ya got?  And he said, "Get rid of the cat?"  And I said, "Nope."

Sad sidebar...
When Leslie originally was struggling to breathe, we attributed it to allergies because we'd just gotten the cat and so we tried managing her breathing with various allergy pills and an albuterol inhaler...and ultimately got fed up with our failure to make a lasting impact and got an xray which showed the fluid building up around her lungs that ultimately took her life.

And so now, two years later, and a lot of fucking miles down the road less traveled on...when I struggle to breathe there's a little part of me that has a minor panic attack.  Asthma is tricky.  I mean, for me it means that when I breathe it's like I'm breathing through a straw, or through cotton balls.  It doesn't matter how hard I just comes in..."less" than I feel like I need...which is a really panicky feeling.  Now when it happens...I can't help but put myself in Leslie's body, laboring for breath, and feeling that panicky feeling...for months...

I have to switch tracks...therein lies madness.

So asthma sounds like no big deal, and I suppose it isn't REALLY as long as you have medicine, but there's some baggage there.  You know?


I use an inhaler and when I take a couple puffs...I'm fine.  I'd take a couple puffs before bed. Sometimes when Lily would wake me in the middle of the night, I'd need a couple puffs.  Sometimes in the morning if I didn't wake up in the night.  Sometimes during the day.  But always fixable with a couple puffs.

So the doctor said, "Would you say that your breathing is managed?"  And I said, "Yeah.  I long as I have the puffer, I have no issues.  If I don't have it..."  And we talked about how frequently I took it.  And he said..."By definition your breathing is not managed."  Apparently the puffer is an "emergency" medication.

So he prescribed some...steroid thingy ALSO an inhaled medication...that I now take at morning when I wake up and at night before bed.  And that's pretty cool.  I've taken it for several days now and haven't used the inhaler since.  His words, "Then the inhaler can go back to being a 'rescue' inhaler".

And all that is fine.  Except that what I don't really totally understand is how being dependent upon this NEW medication twice daily is really any different than being dependent upon the OTHER medication twice daily (fine...sometimes more).  And how it is NOW managed where before it was not.  But I GUESS the thinking is that now if I struggle to breathe I can use the inhaler as an emergency relief where before there was nowhere to go.

And the reason that any of this is coming up is because the last few days I've been tired or distracted, or busy, and haven't gotten in the treadmill, where in the past I NEEDED a puff.  Like...needed.  Already breathing heavy...but through cotton balls...very panicky.  So tonight I'm on the treadmill as I write this...and no breathing issues.

So that's good!


  1. I have asthma (allergic and otherwise). Emergency inhaler opens up your airways and they do so quickly, so you don't stop breathing and die. Supposedly, it's not a fun thing. If you have to convince your lungs to open quickly all the time, this isn't good. It's like a wind storm banging open a screen door. Sooner or later, you're going to need a new door. To prevent this, there's inhaled steroids which allow your lungs to remain open and not develop sticky glue like mucous which prevent your lungs from opening (which is an asthma attack - essentially, your body sees cat as an enemy and Shatner over reacts to protect your body by preventing you from breathing in the enemy). By (okay forgetting a word here) parsing out the steroids over the course of the day, you don't have to de-glue your lungs as often and they gently shut the door, thus preventing your lungs from having to work over time. The anxiety and heart arrhythmia after using an emergency inhaler are just a bonus. My triggers are allergens, dust mites, cigarette smoke, steam, humidity, cold weather, stress, girl stuff (hornones), lack of sleep, and people looking at me cross eyed. Emotionally, yeah, you breath in and out. Panicking only makes it worse and really drives your body into shut down all out of the airplane mode, doubly so if you also happen to have a heart condition. Like grief, management is key. Day by day, second by second if need be. Asthma is sucky like that. It forces you to confront death and be pals with it and dodge triggers like James Bond or something. It's scary stuff.

  2. Cats make my face blow up, but I insisted that my Grandma get one because she needed something to care for. I took Claritin before I went over there. It helped. You probably already tried that, but still...Hugs.

  3. I feel your pain...not the tattoo...just the asthma. I was like that the first year I had our pet goats. Good luck pulling the children away from them once they had kids. It took a year and a half. I used tumeric pills as anti-inflammatory (because I detest inhaler jitters) and saved the rescue inhaler for ... rescues. The steroid inhaler (Advair-esque ones) has the anti-inflammatory action which is why it manages the asthma better. It saved my husband's life.

    As far as the tattoo...I can't help you there. I'm afraid of needles. If it is any consolation, my daughter got a tattoo of an owl in my grandmother's honor when she died (who was like a mother to me.) I'm going to tell her about the Polish tradition of married women. It will validate her. (After about a thousand dollars, SOMETHING better validate her!)