Death Rattle

Last year, I caught a very bad cough that caused me endless amounts of pain and misery. I couldn’t breathe properly, my chest muscles were in agony and I sounded like I was losing parts of my lung with each cough.

When I got to see the doctor, the nurse checked me over in case it was whooping cough. It wasn’t. It was just an horrendous chesty cough that was exacerbated by my asthma.

“Yeah, your asthma”
“But I don’t have asthma?”
“You do now”

Until that point, I’d always thought you were either born with asthma, or you weren’t. Some kids just had it.

Nope! Wrong again!
Apparently you can give yourself asthma by smoking for seventeen years.

The doctor explained to me that my complaint about “when I breathe out, it feels as if I’m breathing through spiderwebs” was the asthma, which means I’d been living with it untreated for around 2 years or so. Clearly, it had only really been “annoying” and not life threatening.

I’ve spent the time between then and now with an inhaler generally at my fingertips. I haven’t needed it constantly, but I’ve always had one somewhere in the house or in my bag for the moments when the spiderwebs were around.

Which is why I was very scared, sad and angry on Saturday morning, when my body clock woke me at boycat’s usual “let me in the blankets” time.
I was actually out camping with my family, and boycat was miles away at home, curled up on the electric blanket, but it seems my bladder didn’t care about that – all it knows is at that time each day, boycat wakes me and I end up needing to pee within a few seconds of my eyes being open.

When I got back into the tent, it started – that spiderweb rattle of flapping lung-holes that wouldn’t push the air out.

I rummaged desperately through my handbag, knowing my inhaler wouldn’t be there. I’d seen it that morning and told myself not to forget it. I know myself well, so I knew that there’s no way I went back for it.

I laid down next to Sid, shivering and burrowing into his back while my breath whistled on the way in and rattled on the way out. I alternated between gulping air or slowly sucking it. I tried sitting up, which gave a few moments relief before that rattle came back and my eyes grew heavy.

All I wanted was to sleep. It was dark, and cold and I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. I knew my mum would have some ventolin, but I couldn’t hear her coughing in her tent, which meant, for the first time in a long time, she’d been able to sleep most of the night through – I wasn’t going to go in there and wake her up.

Instead, I lay there for another two hours, keeping Sid from his sleep, while my breathing noises threatened to wake the entire camp.

Somewhere into that second hour, I began to cry. Genuine sadness and fear tears. The fundamental function that all human beings require – the ability to breathe – was now something that I could no longer count on as something that I could do at all times.

Through my own actions, I have stolen my life from myself. What a dick!

By this point, I no longer had the luxury of alternating between mouth and nose breathing. My crying had generated enough snot to make the latter impossible. My constant coughing, the only way I could clear my chest enough to breathe at all, was grating on me. I felt guilty for waking others up, for keeping Sid from sleep, and I was so tired and sad and scared that all I wanted was for the sun to come up so I could find mum’s ventolin.

… and this is all absolutely ridiculous. Unnecessary. Stupid.

So, when the shops open up again on Tuesday, I’ll pay them a visit.
And also pay them for the quitting patches I intend to walk out with.


Turf Wars

It’s been a shitty week.
Blah, blah, reasons, explanations, etc. The End.

I think we’re all just as tired as I am of the “Bri is not feeling well” story, and it’s time to flip the record over, so what we’re going to do today is talk about the weather.

Here, in my little corner of the world, the winter grass is beginning to go green again. Our loquat tree has started to bear fruit and everyone around me has commenced their hayfever season.

Barbecues clothed in cobwebs, dust, and the remnants of the final Summer Barbie are being cleaned off in preparation of warm weekends with friends, where the sun shines through wine glasses and dries out the least popular Hors d’oeuvres left to melt on the nibbles tray.

A short walk around the neighbourhood as dusk approaches becomes a cacophony of the persistent barking of dogs, put out by all the new people walking on their footpath, and the delighted shrieks of children, lost in a game of their own devising.

The absence of the cold wind biting into exposed flesh seems to slow the whole place down. People stop rushing from A to B, and start meandering. They look up and around them, at trees and buildings, unconsciously lifting their faces to the sun, like leaves on rainforest plants.

There is one group of people, however, who are greatly inconvenienced by the onset of warmer weather, and I’m not referring to those who suffer from allergies.

No. This Spring, pledge your support to the smokers of the world. Those committed souls who have braved the elements by spending all winter at those wind-battered outdoor café tables that nobody wanted to sit at. Think of how they feel each spring when hordes of families and trendy, judgemental people suddenly lay claim to those very same tables, simply because the weather is now sufficiently warm enough to cater to their delicate sensibilities.

Suddenly, the smoker has nowhere to sit for lunch. Those who manage to get a seat and have the audacity to actually light a cigarette in the smoking section are treated with contemptuous stares or at least a passive-aggressive coughing fit from someone two tables away, who, for the duration of the smoker’s entire meal, did not have any sign of a respiratory problem at all.

It is a great injustice against an already highly-persecuted percentage of the population and something must be done!

As smokers are already treated like a diseased/disabled part of our population, the same rules that apply on buses, forcing able-bodied passengers to vacate their seat for the elderly/pregnant/disabled, should also be applied to smokers’ seating at cafés.

If you’re not a smoker and you decide to take a table in the smoking section anyway because, well, you’re only having a coffee and there’s plenty of other seats anyway, you’d best be prepared to stand up for the rest of your café journey should a smoker require your seat.

After all, there are plenty of available seats inside. You really quite enjoyed them over the past three months.