P: PNEU: Greek, literally ‘that which is breathed or blown.’

P: PNEU: Greek, literally ‘that which is breathed or blown.’


My dad was a committed Camels smoker for most of his life; heart surgery and a couple of lung diseases stopped that. It was the smoking that eventually killed him as the cancer moved from his lungs into his bones. How did he quit smoking? The day after his heart surgery my mother asked him, “Well, you have to quit smoking so when do you plan to do it?” My dad said, “I think I’ll finish this pack, it’s half gone anyway.” A few minutes later a nun walked into the room and looked at him. “Enjoy that one, it’s your last,” she said as she grabbed the cigarettes and lighter. He never smoked again. I took in a lot of second-hand smoke as a kid.

Around 2007 I learned I had asthma and most likely had been experiencing it for several years. It had been a strange few months leading up to the diagnosis. I bought groceries and when I got home I had to sit down and get my breath before I could bring them in from the car. Everything made me cough—food, water, walking across the room and even cleaning the house or doing the dishes. I was thrilled to find out what the problem was and spent the next year learning to cope, get the right medicines and how to deal with the condition. The learning goes on. In 2012 we drove to The Grand Canyon en route to Phoenix. I had a couple of asthma attacks and learned what I could not do. Never go to 8,000’ above sea level, never get too close to widespread wildfires (Colorado was having major fires that year) and ALWAYS have the right medicines handy. It turns out that The Grand Canyon has a great clinic and they deal with people short of breath all the time. We cancelled our trip to Phoenix and armed with the meds I should have brought we drove back to Bakersfield. A few months later we drove to Phoenix. A test drive to find my ceiling showed I don’t do well above 6,000.’

When my sister-in-law died a few months after our visit we drove out for the memorial service. Lots of dust crossing the desert but I had my meds. Then in the middle of the night I had to wake my brother up to take me to the hospital—I was having an attack from the damn dust we’d driven through that day.

This weekend we are having terrible air this week. I am in the category they call, “at risk,” and warn us to stay indoors. Air quality is the index I check in the weather section, even during the Bakersfield summers. Up to 80 AQI is not bad and I am OK. Above 100 I have problems. Today will be at least 150+. Last night Miles Muzio said it was 250 at 10 PM. The rest of the weekend is just as troubling.

Experience, the right meds and timely counsel from my wife help me cope. Today I will obey Miles Muzio and stay indoors, use my nebulizer and relax. Keep calm and keep breathing, a winning strategy.

Ahhhhh! That felt good.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. heyannis
    Nov 11, 2014 @ 03:29:27

    Good that you’ve found your limits and have your meds handy. Pay attention! We need you. xoA



  2. Mandy Wallace
    Nov 15, 2014 @ 05:16:56

    It’s horrible having a limiting health condition. I feel you there, and I’m sorry for all the life duct-taping you have to do to deal with it.



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November 2014
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