My Asthma Dad
So, I’m a kid with asthma. I’m fourteen-years-old. It’s 1984. I wake up extremely short of breath. Like, I can barely take in half a breath. Yes! It’s THAT bad! I spend some time trying to remedy the situation. I use my rescue inhaler. I use it again.
Then dad comes to the rescue.
I stand on the bed. I open the window. I place my face against the screen and inhale the cool refreshing air. I lean on the window sill, shoulders high. I start feeling panicky. And, finally, I make a wise decision to wake mom up.
I think about waking dad up.
But, he might get grumpy.
It’s an irrational thought, indeed. But, it’s what I think. So, I decide to trudge to mom’s side of the bed. I stand there a moment trying to gather the nerve.
Finally, I say, almost whispering: “Mom!”
She wakes up. Why is it mom wakes up so easily? The answer to that is a discussion for another day. But, I am thankful again that she does.
She sees me. She sits up. She says, “Bob!”
And dad wakes up.
It’s like this every time.
Dad gets up. Dad gets dressed. Dad walks with me to the door and to the car. We both get into the car. I’m frogged up in the car. Like, I can barely breathe. But, I say nothing.
And, within five minutes, I’m sitting all frogged up on an ER bed.
A respiratory therapist comes into my room. He prepares a breathing treatment. He gives me a breathing treatment.
A doctor comes into my room. He says something about giving me a shot of Sus-phrine. And I’m excited about it. When you can’t breathe, and you know a shot will make you breathe, you like the shot. You look forward to it.
A nurse gives me the shot in the right arm. I watch the clock on the wall in front of me. Within five minutes my breathing is normal again.
I never forgot that feeling of euphoria when suddenly I can breathe. If you have ever been in a similar situation, you know exactly what I mean. And I hope you share your story in the comments below.
I wait! Dad and I talk. We play cards. We wait! We wait! We wait! Of course, I become antsy because of the adrenaline buzz from the treatment and shot. Dad gets antsy because he’s bored. I get antsy because I’m bored, and from the adrenaline.
But! But, dad doesn’t say anything to me. He doesn’t want me to know he’s bored. Why? Because that’s what dad’s do.
And then the nurse comes in and says to dad (not me! Nurses never talked to kids when dads are in the room): “I think the doctor’s going to admit him.”
By “him” she meant me, the asthmatic kid.
And, I knew what THAT meant.
So I got wheeled upstairs. I got wheeled up to my bed. I watched the ceiling tiles on the way up. I felt awkward.
So, now I’m in a room. Dad sits with me for a few minutes. I know he wants to stay with me. But, I also know he has to get up in the morning. Finally, he says, “I have to get up in the morning. So, I think you’re in good hands.”
I totally understand. I don’t’ want him to leave. I never do. But, I understand.
I am wide awake. Yes, mainly it’s due to the adrenaline rush of the medicine that made me feel better.
There’s a TV in my room. But, it’s blank. Back then, you had to pay $5 a day for TV. So, I have no TV. It’s just like the last time I was admitted for asthma. I’m in a hospital. I’m bored. I have no TV. I feel discouraged.
Then, five minutes later, dad reappears at the door.
He says, “I got you a surprise. I paid $5 for the TV so you have something to do.”
Dad probably doesn’t even remember this. But it’s something cool he did that made me very happy one night after a long night struggling to breathe. It meant the world to me. It was so awesome. It was a moment that made me realize what an awesome dad I have.
So, now I can’t sleep.
During the night I sleep very little. I watch TV late. I turn it off only after a nurse makes me. “It’s time to go to sleep.,” she says, “You need your rest.”
I sleep for a little while. I wake to a noise of nurses moving a patient into the bed next to me. I see an old man. He is lying supine. He smells like pee. His mouth is agape. The nurses leave. I am left with the smell of pee and the sound of snoring.
Fast forward to morning. My breakfast comes. It’s a bowl of white mush. I poke at it. I smell it. I taste it.
Then dad arrives. He has a bag from McDonald’s. I open it. It’s an egg McMuffin. Something normal. Then a nurse comes into the room. She says to dad, “You wanted to talk to me.
“Yes,” dad says, “I want that person out of my son’s room”
That was it. Within the next half hour, I was in a new room. I had a room to myself. And I had a TV. Being in a hospital is no fun. But, it’s a lot better when you have your own room AND a TV.
So, here it was barely noon and dad already made my day twice.
How many times did dad take me to the ER? I cannot even count. And he never complained. Not once. And, it was so cool when I was breathing better, to bond with my dad.