Post Asthma Attack Euphoria
So you can’t breathe. You’re miserable. You’re panicky. You’re sitting on the edge of the bed all frogged up after an asthma attack. A nurse puts a hep lock into a vein on your arm. Then she places a syringe into the IV and enters the Solu-Medrol into your system. One hour later you can breathe. And that rush of euphoria flows through your veins. It fills your mind with joy.
You feel awesome. You feel so wonderful. Not because you were given pain medicine. Not because you were drinking a glass of wine or beer. Nope. You feel awesome because all of a sudden you can breathe!
After an asthma attack
You feel so good about life. You feel so appreciative for the doctor who wrote the order, the nurse who injected the medicine into a vein, and the respiratory therapist who gave you the breathing treatment. You feel so much joy that you were born into the modern world of great asthma medicines.
So many thoughts fill your mind.
Yes, that just happens post asthma attack. As I write this, I’m recovering from a horrible asthma attack, the worse one I experienced in years. I’m feeling that euphoria still today, two days later. I’m still in the recovery phase.
Memories from the past
Memories of old flashed through the gray matter of my mind. I can see myself as a young 14-year-old. This was a vision from an asthma attack in the spring of 1984. I saw myself sitting there all frogged up on the edge of the bed. A saw an elderly doctor enter my room. He listened to my back with his stethoscope. Then he chanted the order, “Give this kid an Alupent breathing treatment and a shot of epinephrine.”
I saw a respiratory therapist enter the room. He emptied the contents of a bag on the counter. With his back to me he prepared the nebulizer breathing treatment. I sat straight as I could while taking it. I tried to breathe with my diaphragm as he instructed. But it wasn’t easy. I already knew the treatment wasn't going to help. But I obliged the doctor and therapist and took it anyway.
Truth be told, all I wanted was the shot
With the treatment still going the nurse came in. In one hand she had a vial, in the other a syringe. I watched as she drew up contents of the vial into the syringe. She said, “Roll up your sleeve.”
I rolled up my sleeve as instructed. Felt the poke, the one poke you didn’t mind getting. And then I stared at the clock. I knew from past experience in five minutes I would be able to breathe. I had this happen so many times I knew exactly how it would work. I watched as the hands on the clock slowly moved.
And, lo and behold, right at the five-minute mark -- voila. I would take in a deep breath. It was so awesome that feeling of being able to breathe all of a sudden.
The nurse prepared a second injection. This one was Solu-Medrol. I didn’t remember getting this shot in 1984 mainly because it was the first that gave me my breath back. But, I know now that the epinephrine opened my airways, but only lasts a short amount of time. The Solu-Medrol takes longer to start working, but it’s what keeps your airways open long term.
Magic of modern medicine
Today we use Ventolin and not Alupent. Ventolin is equally effective as epinephrine. So, epinephrine is rarely used. This is good because epinephrine has a very powerful effect on your heart as well as your lungs. Sure, it opened your airways fast. But it also spiked your heart rate and blood pressure.
Often, as I take such medicines that give me my breath back so fast, I can’t help but think of past asthmatics. I wonder what was like for asthmatics before these great medicines. What was it like before epinephrine was discovered to help asthmatics in the early 1900s? What was it like before Solu-Medrol was discovered to help asthmatics in the 1950s?
What was it like for asthmatics before I was born in 1970. I can’t help but feeling fortunate to have been born when I was. Just think, when I was born inhaled corticosteroids for asthma was just in its infancy. The only rescue inhaler on the market was the epinephrine inhaler.
I suppose it’s moments like these that inspired me to study our history.
You learn to appreciate breathing after an asthma attack
I hope no one reading this has ever experienced an asthma attack. I don’t want anyone to experience this. But, if you’ve had bad asthma attacks like I have, have you ever experienced euphoria after an asthma attack? Let us know in the comments below.
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