“He’s back and he wants to take me again!” I yelled between hacking coughs in the general direction of the hospital intercom. I felt a sudden tinge of panic- the type of panic someone who has followed orders to a tee their whole life might feel if they were suddenly going against orders. Don’t let him take me!
Okay, fine, maybe I didn’t yell but I was speaking very loudly not knowing how poor or great the technology was. I was also half-lying on a hospital bed trying to maneuver my body enough to speak into the wall intercom located directly behind me while trying not to flash anyone in my loose hospital gown. I was met with confusion on the other end.
“Who… is trying to take you?” The male voice over the intercom asked carefully.
“Can you just get Alyssa, please? She was the nurse helping me.”
It’s been over a week since Covid barged into our home. At first, the symptoms were mild and hardly made a dent in my usual zest for life but two days in and I was ready to rip off my nose. The congestion was putting unbearable pressure on the middle of my face. Then came the dreaded cough. I always knew if I caught Covid I’d have a rough time given my history of lingering coughs. Usually when a cold virus makes its way into my system, the cold itself stays for about a week, but the cough pitches a tent and calls me home for about 4-6 weeks. I didn’t think this was average, but I also didn’t realize it was abnormal.
The day before my ER visit, I’d had a rough night racked with a dry, nagging cough and what I noticed to be shallow breathing. I decided I’d wait for a reasonable hour to call my doctor’s office in the morning to see if my concerns warranted a visit to the nearest hospital. I chose hospital not because I felt it was of an urgent nature but because if I had to do any further testing (i.e. chest x-ray), it would be more readily available compared to if I went to a walk-in clinic on a Sunday morning.
Upon arrival to the make-shift triage area of the hospital, I was seated in the “Covid-positive” section and I found myself trying to maintain my dignity by impossibly suppressing a few coughing fits so as not to garner any further attention from others. After an hour of furiously chugging water and popping cough lozenges like my life depended on it, I was finally put into my own room to wait for further assessment.
A nurse eventually walked into my room and went through all the testing that would be done. As she was explaining all this, I happened to notice the name on her hospital badge was Alyssa and I thought at once, I better remember that. She explained that I would do a short walk test around the room so she could gage my blood oxygen level while in motion. Then she showed me two separate puffers I needed to inhale at specific intervals (two rounds each), in order to open up my lungs enough for the chest x-ray I’d need to undergo later. After the last round of inhalers, I was instructed to press the call button for the nursing station to let them know I was done so that we could begin counting down 2 hours to my x-ray test.
Well, I was in the middle of my first round of inhalers desperately trying to stay focused on what count I was on when a gentleman knocked on my door to let me know he was there to take me for my x-ray test. I panicked and that’s when I pressed the call bell for my nurse, dramatically telling the nursing station they were trying to take me away.
Hours later, after a few tests and physical exams, I was told what I had already subconsciously suspected. I am asthmatic. The doctor referred me to an outpatient clinic for further follow-up at a later date. She also recommended I get myself a small, portable oximeter to monitor my blood oxygen levels at home. I left with a prescribed inhaler (my asthmatic friend calls this the “rescue” inhaler) for my coughing fits which turns out to be asthma attacks.
I suddenly thought of the many times in my life when a “rescue” inhaler would have saved me much embarrassment:
*uncontrollably coughing in class while writing an exam
*hacking my brains out on a crowded train
*suppressing my cough while sitting in the Covid section of the hospital waiting room
I slowly realized the universe was subtly telling me I was asthmatic for as long as I can remember: my associated family history, my sister urging me to get asthma-tested, my own medical history of never-ending coughing spells, and my prescribed puffer to use at night during the dry winter months. I just wasn’t ready to listen to the universe, I suppose.
Now that I’m here, I choose to look at this in a positive light and use this to my full advantage.
Husband: Can you get me a water?
Me: No, I can’t. I have asthma. Why don’t you get me a stick of gum and a water with a lemon wedge?
Sister: OMG, you need to try this new workout program I’ve been following!
Me: Sorry, I can’t. I don’t want to give up my crispy chicken skin. Plus, I have asthma.
Suddenly, I’ve become the ambassador for the National Asthma Association (this isn’t real, at least I don’t think so), eager to spread the word about the affliction of my asthmatic friends alike.
Hello, my name is
drama queen Jen, I have issues asthma, hear me roar cough!
P.S. Asthma is a common condition, but can be a serious health issue if left undiagnosed and untreated. Speak with your trusted healthcare provider if you suspect you might be asthmatic too.
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