Asthma Attack - Feb 27th - 2006

Asthma Attack!Monday, 27th February
It wasn’t a good month. I was getting over a relationship, I was frustrated with Hollywood, and I wasn’t eating. When I get stressed, I work out -- hard. I began running more, boxing classes, lifting weights. Anything I could do to keep my mind occupied. Everything seemed normal until I started getting these dizzy spells and felt a bit winded. No problem. I’m an asthmatic. These things happen. I’ll just relax a bit, and it’ll go away. After all, I am a self-operating machine. Nothing can hurt me.

Around 2:00 am on a Thursday, something was wrong. I was dizzy. I couldn’t breathe. It felt like my chest was being crushed by a grand piano. However, me going through one of my many mood swings, I thought ‘I’m just going to close my eyes and die in my sleep. Finally.’

The thing that sucks about asthma is that it messes up your breathing so much that you can’t even take in enough oxygen so you can die normally. 15 minutes later, I’m on my bedroom floor trying to pull myself up. ‘I’m not gonna go out like this.'

The UCLA hospital is great. I have only been in a hospital twice. Once when I had an operation and was too drugged up to remember. The second time I was in high school when my dad tried to convince me to go into medicine. I watched him perform a cataract operation. I felt awkward being there, standing beside him. “Can you see what I’m doing?” he asked.

“Yeah, dad. Neat.” In actuality, it was boring, but I got to keep a cool surgical mask, which I wore on Halloween.

The ER was a lot different than the TV show ER. For starters, nobody was there. No homeless people, nobody bleeding. Maybe this was an off night. I pretty much walked right in and the nurse looked almost happy to take my blood pressure and finally do something.


“Can’t breathe” I squeaked.

Her eyes lit up. “Let’s get to work!”

After my pre-examination, I sat in a tiny, barren room waiting for my doctor. The dizziness was gone but my breathing echoed across the hall. I figure having asthma is what fish feel like when they’re taken out of water. They don’t die instantaneously but just suffocate to death. I felt bad. I remember how many times I went trout fishing with my brothers, pulling them out and watching them die. I imagine I am like Hitler to fish.

Snap back into reality.

The doctor stuffed a nebulizer into my mouth, forcing oxygen into my body. I could feel it working, the air passages in my lungs opening up. The simple act of breathing is a wonderful. I hope all of you non-asthmatic readers realize that you are God's chosen children.

“All set,” the doctor said. I popped off the examination table and filled out some paperwork.

“You’re Tarun, I saw you at a comedy show. Are you performing anytime soon?”

I gave him my card. It’s a new card with my photo on it. I don’t know why, but I’m still embarrassed when I give it out. Hey, look at me! I’d almost rather give a card with somebody else’s photo on it. There’s a cute girl in my building who lives across the hall. That would be a great business card.

“Nice card.”

“Um, thanks.“

The next day I sat at Starbucks sipping coffee. I was exhausted from being up the night before, but pretty much forgot about everything that was bugging me. Life is short. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Of course, having asthma isn’t one of them, but everything else is pretty good.

A girl jogging on the street entered. She took out a tiny blue inhaler and shot a spurt of Ventolin into her mouth.

A lot of people wish they didn’t have asthma, but in some weird way, it’s who we are. We can do everything just as well as you can - just not breathe very well, and long distance running, and rock climbing, and fencing and martial arts and speed skating and swimming fast… well maybe not everything.

I sat back in my chair and finished my coffee. It’s great to be alive.

Tarun ShettyComment