Lots of it out there towards Wales, not much from the pilot’s seat. The return of MouseLung(tm) was not entirely unexpected, but this time shrivelled my oxygenating ability to properly scary lows. Asthma is a chronic disease – you don’t get better – but the management and drugs are so much better now.
Which makes my seasonally unadjusted attack very strange indeed. Always between January and March, a cold will spread to my lungs and for three days trips upstairs have to be carefully planned, with Ventalin lung openers carefully placed in strategic locations. Day four, it’s mostly gone and life returns to acceptable without wheezy lungs and a hacking cough.
This incident progressed as normal; a damp London Monday triggered some shortness of breath, before three days driving all over the country sealed my fate. Good job it’s not infectious otherwise a number of potential customers would be on the sick list.
Friday night though when the worst should be over, things started to get a bit hairy. Firstly the drugs stopped working – normally a hourly puff of Ventalin so opens up the passageways to allow enough air to ‘go lung’. But by 1am I was mainlining the bloody stuff with no obvious effect.
A further joy of an asthma attack is lying down makes it far worse. So I found myself leaning against a handy wall fighting for every breadth and remembering that panicking makes it worse. That happy thought just made me remember to panic really. By 3am, every muscle involved in breathing – and there are a surprising amount – ached, every breadth wheezed like a death rattle, and my entire focus was on dragging sufficient air into shallow lungs.
There’s a further irony with Asthma – at least some of the cause is pollution so the inhalers no longer have any pressurisation to make them greener to make. Meaning there is no propellent to inject the drug into your mouth. You have to suck it in as they say which is quite tough with a peak flow of a poorly mouse.
That was a long night. Followed by a morning of emergency doctor’s appointments, a rush on the local pharmacy and sufficient steroids to stun a small donkey. The improvement was nowhere near enough to place riding bikes in my immediate future, so instead I tramped up a very small hill to throw bits of foam into a bracing wind.
1000 litres of air being blasted into your lungs at 40PSI is probably not on the NHS treatment list but it worked for me. As did rattling down the pills with a Shiraz chaser. Today I’m left with about 75% lung capacity and a hacking cough that’d shame a 20-a-day man. It’s not what I’d call recovered, but no longer am I spending evening propped up against a wall wondering where the next breath is coming from.
Without modern drugs and treatment, Asthma is a killer. Without riding bikes and being generally healthy, it’d be debilitating in the extreme. I use it as an excuse when trailing uphills to my fully-lunged pals, but even I don’t really believe that. Except at times like last Friday night. That’d better be it for this year.