It’s stunning how fast one can come under the dominion of pharma, daily chemical uploads. Last week I came down with a cold, from which heights I do not know. It persisted a few days and I started having supremely irritating nocturnal coughing fits. A bit of nasopharyngitis during the day and little sleep at night. This lasted approximately four days, not long in terms of an adult time consciousness. The sense of being slightly dysfunctional though, as well as under the weather, slimed up, bugged me. And my partner was spooked by the cough, which did sound akin to whooping. What is more, we spent a night in separate beds so she could get shut-eye and I could do my coughing. It wasn’t dramatic, just very discomfiting. The decision was arrived at, collaboratively, after much uninformed medical speculation that I would see the doctor on Monday. I wasn’t spending my holiday-time the ideal way.
My regular MD was out and so I instead I saw the backup on Monday afternoon. Funny, idiosyncratic, pious man. I wanted to cut right to the bone with my confabulated auto-diagnosis but instead he stopped me dead for some introductory chitchat, get ourselves to social operating temperature, ready to perform our patient&doctor roles. Said his mnemonic for me failed him, which I could perfectly understand, only having seen the man once. There were little toy cars on his desk, which I think gave me a wrong impression, a nostalgia for something I never particularly cared for.
A few minutes later, quizzical man, he had suddenly engaged me in a quiz: I got the first question right: the bronchi. I got the second answer right: bronchitis. Clearly this quiz was going the wrong direction as far as my health was concerned. The third went outside the tiny plot of my human physiology ken. It would’ve been: asthma. Good heavens, we arrived at the word/diagnosis awfully quickly.
In my day, asthma was serious business. My little brother had it and I remember him spending hours on a fully automated inhaling machine that filled him up with mysterious, medical vapors. I mean, for heaven’s sake, I’m imagining Che here, wheezing through the Cuban jungle, the revolution almost scuppered due to his silly, reactionary[?] lungs. Plus then, for most I know, people with this condition seem to be rather athletically… impaired. Most importantly, no MD had ever diagnosed me with this condition before. How could a few nights of coughing and feeling woozy equal such a dire diagnosis?
Though, to be honest, I didn’t experience any medico-existential crisis when he tentatively uttered the word. I’ve been flying on a vague cloud of indifference lately, nothing serious, just a quotidian autopilot that helps out now and then. The doctor himself, indeed, oddly, seemed to be rather pleased with his assessment. Only just the other week I had learned that allegedly Haile Gebressellasie is an asthmatic and he has been the world’s greatest runner for the last two decades… so evidently this condition doesn’t mean the end of sports, much less that of a good life. And moreover, the doctor could simply be, as he acknowledged, mistaken. He let his lab assistant take a blood probe [fascinating how much blood can be harvested from a single middle-finger pin-prick if you rub it the right way] and run me through a lung-capacity test, which we had to do three times over and which the assistant considered somewhat inconclusive.
During our second seating the doctor went into the details of the diagnosis, which were unfortunately convincing, yet it also turned out that he is a sufferer of this affliction. The impression was instantaneous, overwhelming: “Welcome my young fellow-sufferer in the world of pulmonary ailments. Soon you will be 33, quite old enough for this sort of thing, don’t you think?” I was expecting to learn the secret handshake of the order of valiant asthma sufferers or the like. Instead he went straight-ahead with the medical regime: aggressive, admittedly aggressive, 10d only, hit’em fast, hit’em hard. Cortisone, my dear. I was not convinced, nor did his adrenalized account of solving a sudoku at 2:am in record time reassure me. Not being able to sleep was precisely the main reason for showing up at the office/lab. Then again, this is to be only a temporary measure and it promises/ed respite from the zzzzzz-robbing hack. Moreover the diagnosis was dreadfully plausible, the tell-tale blood, the damning respiratory data so pitifully below a hale young fellow’s exhalation volume. Last week I was fine, this week I’d become an asthmatic, the skinny kid on the sidelines, doubled-over who inhales on his little plastic inhaler for bare life before getting his arse kicked anyway.
And indeed, a few minutes later we practiced together, each an inhaler in hand, the proper inhalation procedure, to be executed in the morning, the evening and before sports. Like doctor, like patient. Frabjous. He confessed to me that in some regrettable way the results of the lung-test made him happy because they seemed to confirm his hypotheses and that I should be back in ten days to run another one and get more definite data.
So October 5th or 6th my girlfriend got me Fluimucil Grippe effervescent tablets [3/d, 1/n] to fight my acute coryza and the slight cold-sweat, plus Lysopain dol [Ambroxol, I’m as clueless as you likely are] to calm my throat. Hideously sweet but effective. Then when the hacking wouldn’t abate, Saturday, I got Pulmofort [further up the chemical richter-scale] to do away with the cough-stimulus; which worked pretty well though I was still feeling half-in, half-out of my head.
Now the kooky but helpful and nice Doc has me on Symbicort [the nerd inhaling apparatus] supplying me with 200 microGs of Budesondium and 6 microGs of Formoteroli fumaras on each hit. I’m glad to report that these meds works. More or less. But damnit still, these are five pharmaceutical compounds newly circulating in my endocrine system, up from zero 11 days ago. I rarely ever take medicine, I’m moderately but principledly if not principally anti-allopathy, and now I feel like, to a degree, like a small, helvetic, second-hand U.S of A prescription med addict. Is there an A.P.M.A.? Like this is what one becomes, inevitably, in the post-30 long haul.
Today, day 1 after asthma inauguration, I at long last got back to weights and [the much dreaded] treadmill. I’m timid and already-nostalgic and skeptical about running in the great, auto-dominated outdoors and letting that villainously cold autumn air invade my tender respiratory tract so I abide by the crazily spinning, vertigo-genic faux-black-top for now. What was noticeable today, however, is that now and then, even when not running, a cough will slowly bubble its way up through the bronchi and hack out, not loud, not slimy, but definite, with an attitude. As in: I’m still in here somewhere, biding my time, just you wait until you get off that Prednison, you immuno-compromised little shit you. Sooner or later you’ll have had it with kortikosteroidal side-effects, rest assured. And I can feel it too: there’s a sort of pressurized little knot in the center of the upper thorax, a vague rumbling behind the rib’s cage, saying it’s not done with me. Aside from all that, the ingredients [see above] on the cardboard-boxes read something fearful, 10d or not.
Yet, now that I think about it, I believe that in the end running itself will redeem me, heal me, save me from this ghastly interregnum of pharmaceuticals. The doc said with intent “You are not handicapped. You are physically ok. Go for athletics as ever. Or sudoku.” Fine then, let’s see how much stamina asthma itself’s got, seeing as it seeks to usurp it from others. Looking forward to the next run [hell, even on the mill]. And antecedent toke of Symbicort, of course.
p.s.: Moreover – do I even really suffer from this shit?