Tuesday, April 14, 2009

True Love

True love has nothing to do with fairy tales, bodice ripper romances or some guy riding in on a white horse to spirit you away. No, true love is being able to gently awaken your spouse after midnight to inquire the name of the street where the hospital in the next town is located because your wheezing is starting to scare you.

True love is rather than just mumble the information, hubby gets up and drives you there himself.

I've always had a problem during allergy seasons which I just wrote off as one of my body's many quirks....like being short or having freckles when everyone else outgrew theirs. Then again, I didn't grow much. Sneezing and pollen just were part of spring and fall to me. I keep the tissue and sinus medicine people in business and in return, I get to breathe. Oh sure, I've occasionally noted that extreme changes in temperature, like going from warm to really cold, seem to make the old airway want to squeeze shut. I just figured that was my body's way of shivering on an internal level. Same with certain types of exercise. I'm not an Olympic caliber athlete so I concluded that same feeling was my body's way of saying, "Hey, we're not an Olympic athlete so knock it off already."

Gee, after midnight last night I learned two things: [1] I do not turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of twelve and [2] you can get asthma when you grow up. I knew that growing up thing had a downside.

Turns out that asthma is also genetic. I had a great uncle named Joe who I never met. When I was a kid it was explained that he had some kind of "fits" and had to go live in a "home" when he was fifteen. Never sounded right but you know growing up when I did, kids didn't keep asking questions. When they grow up however....

I discovered that Uncle Joe actually had asthma. Just last year his baby brother, my favorite, Uncle Gene, explained that the doctors once said it was the worst they'd ever witnessed. Eight years old when his problem was first "discovered", Joe feared that because he flailed around so badly during his "fits", which were asthma attacks, he might hurt his mother so he asked that they send him away so that wouldn't happen. Unfortunately medical science was more in line with Dr. Frankenstein than what we have today and being sent away meant the local Asylum for the Mentally Insane. You have to wonder who was insane: they tried to treat the poor boy with morphine. I kid you not. By the time he was 18, Joe's doctor had made him a junkie. A new doc came in and instituted what his colleagues deemed crazy...what we know as going cold turkey. The new doc fought the old docs and although he was able to get Uncle Joe off morphine, the other docs used electric shock therapy. By the time they figured out years later that the real problem was asthma, the damage was done. Although he wasn't insane per se, Joe had lived in an institution for so long, he continued living in one, graduating to an assisted living facility where he died. Heart breaking doesn't come close.

The good part of my brush with medicine was having a husband by my side who was not grumbling over a ruined night's sleep but concerned. So concerned that HE filled out the paperwork at the hospital. I did have to come over to sign something and when the woman behind the desk asked if I was married, I pointed to hubby and said, "Yes, to this wonderful man here. For 28 years." Hubby grinned while the younger girl gasped, "28 YEARS? Wow!"

Funny, I keep thinking everyone marries their true love and keeps them until death do they part. And frankly, I wasn't quite ready to do the parting part yet.

Hospitals here have changed. Fifteen minutes after wiring me as if I was a NASA astronaut in training or then again, considering my blood pressure at this internal mutiny, I was wired for sound, in walked hubby. They thought I'd be happier with a face I knew. And trusted. For the record, I have what they call "White Coat Syndrome". That's fancy medical talk for being stupid. Although intellectually I know that a blood pressure cuff will not harm me, when that little sucker tightens down, it makes me see red. It makes me mad. It often hurts...which makes one's blood boil, which isn't helpful in getting "true" readings. I often warn a nurse so she won't think I'm having a stroke. So after the first reading, I'm lying on my back and looking as if I'm doing a headstand so I can see the numbers on the machine behind my head. It is obvious I need to do the deep breathing-pretend-you're-somewhere-else routine.

In walks hubby with a cheerful, "And what do you think you're doing?"

"Trying to keep the Doc from having a heart attack," I replied with a smile as he studied all the numbers and complained my pulse was too high. I blamed it on him and when his brow furrowed, I added, "You do tend to make the ol' heart skip a beat."

After ingesting benedril, liquid albueterol, having a shot of steroids and a breathing treatment, I was deemed fit to go home. And to watch my blood pressure. The irony being, of course, that it will be higher than normal until I'm off all the meds.

So how do you know what True Love really is? It's the man you can count on in the middle of the night. The one who knows when to crack a joke and when to just squeeze your hand. The one person who'll call in sick for you....while letting the boss know in no uncertain terms that you WILL NOT be participating in another Easter Egg Hunt because although they were warned you could get sick, they insisted you take a pill and report for duty any way. True love is the person who lets you get some much needed sleep while he goes to the pharmacy to get your prescriptions filled and comes home with.....

.....a blood pressure cuff. Just to ensure you're around to love him for a very long time.


Peggy said...

Awe, you do have a real gem... but I'm sure he feels that way about you too.
It's good that you found out about the Asthma, now you can get the right meds and the right care. Not being able to catch a breath it awful!
I bet you were both exhausted when you got home. I'm so glad that you're on the mend now!

Poetikat said...

Hold on tight to that man, Hope! He's a diamond! (We're both lucky, in that regard.)
Glad to hear you got medical attention in time to straighten out the situation. Nobody wants to lose you!

The story of your great uncle, Joe is gut-wrenching. Medicine has a lot to answer for along its path to success.


Ken Armstrong said...

I'm very glad you're feeling better. Do watch that blood pressure though - don't give hubby a cuff if he tried to put one on you.

Poor Joe - that's one tough story. :(

hope said...

Thanks Peggy...although I do tease the man that if he makes me breathless...

Kat, thanks! It's nice to know that I got at least one thing right when I was 16...not letting go of this man. ;) Yeah, the Uncle Joe stuff really got to me when I found out all the details. At least medicine advances.

Thanks Ken! I promise not to don boxing gloves. Wouldn't win anyway...he'd be able to hold me at arm's length like in those old cartoons.

Terence McDanger said...

Stories like that about Uncle Joe make me spit fire, seriously.

So it's nice it was all balanced out with the awwwwww factor of you ad your husband. Pair of feckin' teenagers yis are!

hope said...

Ah McDanger...you live! I would've asked the cows to check on you, but they seem to be AWOL.

I agree about the Uncle Joe part. Can you imagine... in his lifetime they went from such barbaric practices to putting a man on the moon?

Poetikat said...

Hi Hope! I would send a little Get Well e-card, but you don't post an address, so I'll just say, I hope you're feeling better.

Take care,


hope said...

Thanks Kat! You'd think all the coughing and sneezing after the breathing treatment would at least make me skinnier. :)

Susan said...

Aaawww... you are SO lucky, both of you!

Sorry to hear what you went through--and sorry that I only just found out today, after a week of fighting Blogger (grrrr) to read and comment anywhere.

It's almost midnight now as I write this--what a crappy time to go to hospital! I hope you stay well.