Breath. Something we need. We never even think about it. We just breathe.
I got a cold a few weeks ago. Strange as I rarely get sick, but I rested, drank hot tea, and waited. I felt better in three days.... except I couldn't breathe well. My chest felt tight.
I rested more. I drank more tea. I held hot drinks against my chest trying to relieve the pain in the muscles. Wondered about pneumonia... but I didn't feel sick enough. I just couldn't breathe well.
I decided to just go on with my life. See if the "mom immunity" that tells our bodies that we are just too busy to be sick would kick in and I'd feel better. I managed fine... as long as I didn't do anything strenuous that required a need for increased breathing. Breathing was hard.
Then I went back to work. I took the shift easy, but I couldn't keep up with the need to breathe, walk, and talk all at the same time. Halfway through, I was struggling. As the last hours ticked by, I was audibly wheezing and having to force to exhale with little grunts. But I was the only nurses aide on that late at night and thirty one patients depended on me. I struggled on.
Immediately after the night shift came on, I drove myself straight to the emergency room. Amazingly, in a system that usually take four to six hours to get in to the ER, I was ushered in within twenty minutes. (I must have looked bad!) It still took them three hours to actually get a doctor to me and begin treatment, but at least I had a bed and an eye on me.
It wasn't pneumonia. I have asthma. Why at age forty am I just now coming down with asthma, I do not know, but I have it. They gave me an inhalation and sent me home with puffers. I feel... slightly better. The asthma is by no means controlled and I am still waiting to see my doctor next week and see what can be done about it. It still hurts to breathe, but at least I have the inhalers for when it gets tough. I'm managing. But I have limited endurance. Singing, walking, working for more than an hour on my feet - this all takes more air than I currently can get. I tire easily.
I know asthma can be controlled. I have hope that mine will be once I get to see a doctor. But for now, during the wait, I treasure breath. Each one is precious. With each exhale is the quiet reminder of pain. A reminder not to push it. Not to do more activity than my lungs can keep up with.
This is not what I wanted now.