Asthma Attack


Asthma Attack

I’ve left the house where I abide.
I can no longer live inside.
The dust has got the best of me—
my lungs, and all the rest of me.
Two weeks of tile and concrete dust
have all built up until I must
admit my lungs gave up at last
with breath a function of the past.

I made it to the pharmacy
before my breath gave out on me.
Once there, gasping, voiceless, paler,
I pantomimed for an inhaler,
then asked how to make use of it
and for a stool on which to sit—
all with gestures wild and manic.
Attempts to breathe brought only panic.

A half hour more I struggled for air.
Clearly I needed help and care.
Tranquilo, señora,” the store clerk urged,
every time my panic surged
because I could not breathe again.
I tried and tried, but all in vain.
Another spray, then I willed calm
to wrap me in its healing balm.

At last, I finally breathed free.
They called a friend to come for me.
She drove me home, and now I sit
above the dust and all of it:
debris, concrete, tile and grout.
I’ve left it all.  I have moved out
to live in my upstairs casita
a saner, safer señorita

far above the mess and din,
lest this construction does me in.

If you’ve never had an asthma attack, I can only say it is one of the most panic-provoking experiences I’ve ever had, equaled only by my first asthma attack three years ago and an earlier time when I was pinned underwater and nearly drowned. I’ve said before that my greatest fear in life is not being able to breathe, and today I faced that fear again. After a month of severe coughing bouts and three trips to the doctor, I finally checked my meds on the advice of my friend Marti and found my blood pressure meds were known to provoke chronic bouts of coughing. I got my doctor to change my meds and slept well last night. It wasn’t until the man remodeling my bathroom arrived and started sanding and cutting concrete that I suddenly got a severe coughing attack again, in spite of the fact that there were two closed doors between us.

Although I had plenty of nighttime cold meds, I was out of Tabcin Activa, my daytime cold formula, so I decided to drive to the pharmacy to get some more. Thankfully, within the last few months, they’ve opened a Guadalajara Farmacia in my  village. Otherwise, I would have had to have driven 5 miles to Ajijic. This synchronicity, I am sure, saved my life, as by the time I got to the pharmacy, I was coughing and wheezing so severely that instead of asking for Tabcin, I asked for cough medicine. The pharmacist brought out a  lovely gift-wrapped conglomeration of kids’ cough medicine, stuffed toy, vitamin tablets and herbal tea. No, I insisted between coughs, just very strong cough syrup. By the time she brought it and I had ripped open the box and asked her to open the bottle, I was wheezing. I chugged the cough medicine, then went into a full asthmatic attack. I motioned wildly for an inhaler, and then for them to open it and show me how to use it. I used the inhaler once. Twice. Three times. I was presenting the most wild and frantic display of behavior but I knew, in fact, that I would die if I couldn’t breathe soon.

Eventually, I could take small gasps of air, interspersed with more closings of my air passages. I pointed toward a stool, which they brought to me, along with a glass of warm water. I took a sip and my passages closed again. Another inhaler blast. Tears were streaming down my face and I was shaking uncontrollably. Earlier, they had asked if they should call for an ambulance, but I knew if this were done, that my house had been left open with only strangers in it. Both of my computers were out in plain sight. The gate to the street open. The front door open. The workers would not know where I was. Anyone could wander into the house. What’s more, I’d left my cellphone at home along with my phone list. I didn’t have any numbers to call friends to come help. Of course this caused more anxiety and brought on another attack.

In the end, still unable to talk, I wrote a note asking for a phonebook. I finally found the number of a friend, had them call her and ask her to come get me. Unfortunately, she was not a native speaker of Spanish and didn’t understand what they were saying, but I was able to speak enough to say who I was, that I needed help and to come to the pharmacy.

She drove me home, got items from my house I needed, stopped by another friend’s house to see if he’d come mind mine for the day, and since I was breathing well by then, took me back to the pharmacy to pick up my car.  On the way back home, I suddenly remembered I had an upstairs room that should be dust-free and so I relieved my friend, brought possessions upstairs, and here I am ensconced until construction is finished.

I must end here because I’m getting sleepy and think I’ll soon nod off. Ironically enough, what I had originally gone to get at the pharmacy was Daytime Tabcin, a multi-symptom cold capsule for what I thought was my cough and cold. Although I had the night formula, I was out of the daytime one. I had written my request to the pharmacist who had shown me a box. Yes, that was it I said. Now, safe in my upstairs room, breathing freely, I again felt a cough coming on and quickly opened the box and popped two of the capsules. Only afterwards did I think to look at the box. She had given me the nighttime formula! So in spite of the fact that it is just a bit past noon, I think I’ll be off to dreamland soon.


The prompt word today was “abide.”

41 thoughts on “Asthma Attack

  1. Peggy Bilbro

    Scary happening! Glad it turned out OK. I’m not surprised though, because what you describe is a nightmare of cement dust, ceramic dust and physiological stress from all the noise of the ‘invasion’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M. Oniker

    Very scary. I empathize deeply with this. I’ve had severe asthma attacks and they are truly panic inducing (and rightfully so, except it just makes matters worse). Glad you are ok, and that fortune was smiling upon you with the opening of the pharmacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Relax...

    I don’t know if you can get your hands on any there (and we have to sign and show picture ID for it here), but Primatene tablets will reign in a bout of asthma, though it takes a half hour to fully kick in, and it leaves one feeling dry and jittery (a small price to pay for eased breathing).


    1. lifelessons Post author

      I’ll see. The nasal spray seemed to work. I got a prescription for some years ago after my first attack but since I’ve never had one since, never used it again and the attack didn’t begin until I was actually in the pharmacy. Whole little bunch of birds just settled around my pool and ooops… one just pooped in my pool! Another perching on an alovera spine and rest just perched on concrete pool rim. They think it is a spa.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Patti

    I’m so glad you were in the pharmacy when this happened. How frightening. Stay away from the work space until it’s all done and cleaned up, please!


  5. Gordon K. Niedan

    Sorry to hear about your breathing, or lack thereof, attack, glad you made it through. I can sympathize completely, as I have sarcoidosis, which constricts my airways when I do heavy exercise, warm moist conditions, or as I just finished shoveling snow in 11 degree weather. I pant like crazy(all for the wrong reasons) trying to breathe normally. Take care of yourself. Senor Gordo


      1. Soul Gifts

        Asthma is notorious for being triggered by emotions. I have one in the bedroom and one in my office as well. I’m surprised the pharmacy staff did not know what to do to assist you. Mine is triggered by allergies – all kinds of dust, pollens and cats.


        1. lifelessons Post author

          They offered to call an ambulance, provided the cough syrup and inhaler, gave me a stool to sit on, and one clerk kept coming over and rubbing my back and saying “Relax, relax.” Another brought me a glass of warm water and reminded me to take sips. They really did assist. I know I’m allergic to dogs a bit and keep mine outside and in the room I had built for them earlier this year. (More construction dust.) And there is dust aplenty with the replacement of floors and remodeling of the bathroom. Soon will be over and I’m hoping breath will come easier.
          Thanks for the comments, Soul Gifts!

          Liked by 1 person

            1. lifelessons Post author

              But it would have left my house open, unattended, with two computers in plain sight. There were men working there who would have left it all open because they wouldn’t have known I wasn’t there..and I hadn’t taken my phone or addresses. I had to contact a friend to go close down my house or by the time I got back to it, it could have been emptied. I live in Mexico where security is an issue. I merely wanted to somehow contact a friend as it would have been impossible once an ambulance was called. By the time I finally got this across, I was better and by time my friend came, I was pretty sure I was on the mend. If everything had been good at home, I would have let them call the ambulance.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Cee Neuner

    WOW Judy! What a horrifying experience. I’m glad you got the nighttime doses. Your body can use the extra rest after your out pouring of energy trying to breathe. I am sending energy down your way. I’ll see you back on line when you wake up. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Let your lungs and body heal. Much love to you.


    1. lifelessons Post author

      Actually, I ended up going to Guadalajara to Costco to buy two air purifiers to run in each room until I get rid of the dust and pollen. Hope that will help. My friends Audrey and Peter drove me. Just got home and have turned them on in the bedroom and living room/kitchen. Hope it helps.


        1. lifelessons Post author

          Love it. How do you have time to do all the blogging that you do? Amazing that you have time to take the photos! I have two air purifiers running.. plus a heater at my ankles. One seems to be warming, the other two cooling. I forgot they’d not only take air in but also blow it out!


          1. Cee Neuner

            Air purifiers are cooling….stay warm. Your idea for another blog sounds interesting and beautiful. Chris has wanted me to start a blog for my best photos. With my challenges I put up both the real good and just okay photos. So I finally decided to get it going. Thought I’d slow load content through the end of the year and make a big announcement in early January. I hope you got some sleep last night.



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