In January, I got a cough. This week, I got a diagnosis: asthma.
Asthma makes me think of two things. First, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Remember that scene? Or any part of that movie? I do, because I was too young to be watching it, and my mind will forever associate “asthma” with “psychotic nannies.”
Second, and more prominently, I think of awkward, nerdy children with huge glasses, usually portrayed on TV by the likes of Martin Starr and Josh Saviano. And then I think, “wait, that was me as a child. That’s sort of me now. Of course I have asthma.”
But I didn’t have asthma in junior high or high school or college. The nerds let me hang with them anyway, presumably because of the glasses. And the braces. And the love of sci fi and hatred for physical activity and the inability to talk to boys and…who are we kidding. Asthma or not, I was the queen of the nerds.
My doctor actually suggested asthma about a month ago, after my fourth visit to her and second request for codeine. She referred me to a specialist, who was finally able to see me this week and confirm the diagnosis – kind of. “I really want to say you have asthma, but let’s do some tests first,” he said. “Because once I give you this diagnosis you will have it for life.”
Yeah, well. I also have poor vision for life. I’m left handed for life. I’m a bit freckly for life but especially in the summer. I get why the specialist was cautious, but I also get that it’ll be okay. Still, I agreed to do the test.
“Have you had any coffee, pop, or chocolate today?” he asked. “We can’t do the test if so.”
I’d had all three within the last hour. We scheduled the test for first thing Monday morning.
So this is how I came to wake up an hour and a half early to drive across the cities in rush hour traffic on zero caffeine and zero allergy meds. This is also how I came to be in the worst mood of my life. I am not the type who can wake up with boundless energy, spend a long time in a car, not eat chocolate, and then happily interact with strangers. Only golden retrievers and my friend Mike do that. No, I’ve purposely plotted my life so I can sleep until the latest possible moment before “commuting” to work by walking half a block, stopping at one of two coffee shops on the way, and sitting at my desk and avoiding human interaction for at least an hour.
So, unshowered and wearing what I’d found at the top of the laundry pile (pink dress and oversized hoodie), the crabbiest, coughiest, but least coffee’d version of myself checked in for her methacholine challenge. Or at least she was supposed to. What I actually said was, “I’m here for a midi-chlorian test.”
It was unintentional. Nerd for life.
The premise of the methacholine challenge is to test for asthma by inducing asthma, because it only works in people who already are susceptible to asthma (or something). This strikes me as a little insane. Do we test for other things like this? “We think you have a broken leg, but we can’t be sure until we smash your knee cap with a hammer to make sure your leg is susceptible to breaking.”
I spent an hour slowly finding it harder and harder to breathe, which counts as a “positive” test. Then I was given a huge, fast dose of meds to bring me back to “normal.” And because I’d been complaining (imagine that!), I was brought a black coffee to sip while I waited for everything to take effect. And like every time I mix coffee and medicine, I wound up shaking and talking nonsense and basically tweaking out.
And then I was declared “normal.”
“I should go back to work,” I thought as I walked out. “Or to a movie! Or maybe a quick car nap. Or a shoe store. Or maybe I’ll take a nap in my car in front of a shoe store. COMIC BOOKS! I want a sandwich. Or an Icee! I’m going to have an Icee for lunch! Where are my keys? Did I park in this lot? I need to download Return of the Mack right now. Where’s my car? How do I get home? Wow, I feel amazing! I love having asthma!”
Needless to say, I crashed pretty quickly. I almost couldn’t finish my Icee. And to think, my Adventures With Asthma are only just beginning. Please feel free to buy me this shirt as I make this adjustment.