“We Accept The Reality Of The World With Which We’re Presented. It’s As Simple As That.” Truman Burbank
I’ve been struggling to breathe for months. It’s as if I’m suffocating from the inside out.
How do you tell if something is alive? You check for breathing.
It’s the first indicator of life.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say feeling tired, lethargic, and breathless totally sucks.
My husband is not humored by my 6:30 pm bedtime, late-night coughing attacks, and constant wheezing. Not that you asked, but he’s been a little testy.
I don’t blame him, I’m sick of me too.
All this hampered breathing makes me think of my Mom, and how she struggled for every breath as she neared the end. Naturally, I start imagining my own death. It’s morbid and I can’t help myself.
Mediocre fatalistic tendencies have never been my life’s aspiration. I was aiming for proficient.
Why is it when we don’t feel good it’s as if we can’t imagine ever feeling good again? In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was able to take a deep breath without hacking up a lung!
It’s as if I’m suffocating under the weight of something heavy? Or maybe I just need to chill out like a few of my readers advised?
I really should be on someone’s couch with a box of tissues in my lap.
I can hear your collective thoughts, “and no, it’s not COVID.” I have a slew of negative tests and besides asthma has been a lifelong companion of mine. It’s usually dormant, I haven’t given it a second thought for decades, but recently as if Britney Spears, it made an unexpected comeback.
I have no idea why? It’s as if Truman’s little rain cloud is following me around (if you’re not a boomer you might not know this movie reference *).
Here I am ready to enjoy retirement when this unwelcome condition takes up residence in my lungs and refuses to relocate. I’ve shamed it, ridiculed its tenacious nature, even offered it a relocation package with a respectable nose spray.
Of course, I googled all my symptoms and decided I was either in the final stages of heart failure or as my sister has been saying for months, “you need to replace the carpet in your room because it’s killing you.” She could be right.
She’s always right. Shit.
I say to Larry, “Honey, I think I’m dying.”
Larry says, “wait until we get back from Portugal.” [When I return from Boston/Florida we’re heading to Portugal to see our son]
“That’s not very sympathetic.”
“Not my skill set.”
“What a shocker.”
“You’ve been complaining about this for months. Go see a doctor.”
“I don’t like doctors. They’ll want blood. And they’re ruthless about flu shots.”
“You should ask for an EKG.”
“Is my DNR up to date?”
“You’re being a little dramatic.”
“I know, very unusual.”
Secretly, I’m planning on donating my ears to Larry. Bahaha
Under extreme duress, I make an appointment with the doctor, before I work up some lame excuse and change my mind. I’m not a fan of doctors, especially ones that want urine, blood, or biopsies. No offense Mike. I’m sure you’re not the needy type.
But I’m heading to the east coast tomorrow to help Kelley pack up her life in Boston and then hopping over to Marco Island in Florida to spend some time with my dear friend Christine who is learning to breathe again after several difficult years. How Ironic?
After I return from the east coast, we’re visiting Tony and Thalita in Lisbon, that alone should keep me alive.
If not, I’ll donate my body to medical science.
I’d be an anomaly at the very least. How does one die after completing two back-to-back fifty-mile bike rides?
My appointment is set for the morning after my return from Boston/Florida. I don’t land until 1:00 am so this is going to be challenging for someone in the final stages of heart failure.
The universe has a cruel sense of humor don’t you think? As Ted Lasso says, “If that’s a joke, I love it. If not, can’t wait to unpack that with you later.”
Within the span of eight days, my toes touched both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s been an emotional week. Boxing up one life, opening up another.
I have experience with closing chapters and starting with a blank page but it’s never an easy transition and often I’m at a loss for words. Imagine?
I saw this on the internet and thought it was worth repeating. Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it. That’s what I’m talking about.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes claims Marcel Proust. Helping Kelley pack up her life allowed me to see how our things have locational meaning, seasonal usage, and often they become a measure of time.
Kelley weeded out furniture, sporting equipment, dishes, clothes, shoes, purses, and rugs that are no longer a good fit and will not be accompanying her into the next chapter.
It made me realize how I hang on to things far longer than I should (including illnesses).
I suppose the act of keeping things you no longer need represents an aspect of the self that doesn’t want to move on. That beautifully sums up my entire life. I DON’T LIKE CHANGE. Let’s move on.
In between packing, Kelley and I enjoyed a spot of tea at the Four Seasons. Isn’t that telling? We meandered through the Isabel Gardner museum, spent an evening restaurant hopping, enjoying specialty wines, distinctive dishes, and that unforgettable Boston ambiance.
Tim took us out to an incredible dinner at the local steak house one night. We had to walk four blocks to get to the restaurant in the middle of a blizzard. March in Boston. Travel at your own risk.
When I landed in LaLa land, on Marco Island, in Florida, I was floored by the hordes of tanned, facelifted, well-seasoned people. The snowbirds have migrated and they are nesting everywhere.
Chris and I walked every morning, spent hours catching up on our lives, enjoyed a few good meals out but my favorite thing was watching the sunset every evening from her patio sipping wine, savoring our time together. Traveling to see a friend is a rare treat these days.
So after a full and absorbing week, I headed home, still wheezing, coughing, and struggling to breathe. My seatmates on the airline were thrilled.
My husband showed up at the airport with a rose. Could that be a sign?
I’m either dying or he missed me?
Yeah, that’s what I thought too.
After what felt like three hours of restless sleep I was up, showered, and heading to the doctor. I totally nailed it. She wanted it all. Height, weight, blood, urine, X-ray, EKG, and other unmentionables. My blood pressure was alarmingly high, go figure?
She said, “you’ve been aggressively trying to deal with your symptoms, I commend your efforts, but I’m going to medicate your asthma, and I’m sure you’ll feel much better.”
Me, “Well you have to admit my regime was creative.”
“And highly ineffective.”
“So I’m not dying of heart failure?”
“No, but I can see you haven’t been able to take a deep breath for a while.”
“Could be why I’m so dizzy.”
“Most likely, but let’s see what the blood tests reveal.”
I started on her medication two days ago. TWO DAYS AGO.
Now I’m more than willing to admit when I’m wrong. I WAS SO WRONG. You can not believe the difference a day can make when properly medicated.
I am breathing with such ease I feel as if I could run a marathon (okay, maybe a 5K). No coughing, no wheezing, no sitting up all night, no toddler bedtime, no intricate ritual of ineffective concoctions every few hours.
I feel like a brand new woman. Thank God, because I have only a few days to wash and repack before we leave for Portugal.
I love doctors.
*The Truman Show was a movie that came out in the late 90s about a corporation that adopts a baby who grows up on a gigantic studio set but he doesn’t realize he’s a reality show that millions of people watched daily.
I’m Living and breathing in the Gap, bursting with energy. I’d love to hear about your week! Join me in the comments.