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The Night Asthma Nearly Had Its Wicked Way With Me

Last updated: October 2021

Even now, when I think back to those early hours of that morning in 1993, it leaves me feeling oddly numb and lucky as hell. I remember it vividly. My parents had hosted a pre- Christmas bash at our place. We had tons of visitors which meant lots of smoking and drinking. In those days, very few people concerned themselves with passive smoking. The house was full of this horrible foggy smoke, loud music, and overly decorated Christmas decor.

The beginning of the attack

During certain periods of the evening, I kept needing to go outside into the back garden for some fresh air. Every time puffing on my Ventolin inhaler. I was aware that I was taking my inhaler a little too much. As the night wore on, my breathing became very slow and labored. I had that before so I wasn't overly concerned. Also, bear in mind, that before 1993 I had never experienced a "full-on" asthma attack. As a kid growing up in the 1980s I'd managed to successfully manage my asthma independently, with regular checkups at my local hospital.

A pause: hard to reflect back

I didn't think this would be hard to write but I actually hate going there with this. It's like living through the trauma all again. When I first became an advocate here at Asthma.net, this was the first article I had in mind to write but I kept putting it off. Finding an excuse not to go there and write about something else. Anyway, back to '93...

I knew I was having a serious asthma attack

It was about 3 in the morning and I woke just not being able to breathe. If anyone has seen that scene in Brian Cranston's Your Honour, where his son experiences an asthma attack after he runs someone over in his car... no exaggeration, that was me!

I walked very slowly into my mum and dad's bedroom taking short second breaths. Tears of fear streaming down. My mum took one look at me, screamed at my dad, and he picked me up ran downstairs to the car, and drove like an absolute nut job to the hospital. Apparently, my lips had turned blue and they knew I never bothered them unless it was urgent to do so.

I don't remember arriving at the hospital as I slipped into unconsciousness. I also delighted the medical staff by defecating myself which wasn't ideal. But as I say, I can't recall this happening but apparently, it did. I do recall waking up with wires all across my chest, attached to a heart monitor and an intravenous drip, with an oxygen mask on. Scary times.

The doctor that was looking after me said I came close to death and I should thank my dad for reacting so swiftly and getting me to the hospital. I remember making my dad laugh by telling him that I would take him out for a meal as a way of saying thank you for saving my life. I was fifteen years old.

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