Saturday, January 07, 2006

Respiratory Alert

When I was twelve years old I was diagnosed with severe asthma. Breathing was a lesson in futility. I couldn’t run anymore, I put on ten pounds and got called “The Fat Kid” at school. Before my asthma I was lean and had an easy charm for a snot-nosed pre-pubescent kid. After I acquired asthma, I spent half of every thought on keeping my breath.

It seemed to doctors as though I had a rare case insofar as so many things seemed to trigger severe attacks. I was missing weeks of school at a time. They switched me from one school to another, hoping that would help, but nothing did.

It was a matter of blind luck that we had insurance. Perhaps the planets were aligned for a brief moment. We never had any access to health care when I was a kid. I’m not sure if it was a matter of not being able to afford it for my father as much as a matter of not wanting to be able to afford it. I think I went to the dentists three times in my first eighteen years of life (each time the presiding dentist would insist on closing the half-inch gap between my two front teeth with braces and each time my father would brush off the dentist, explaining that braces were unnecessary.) I’d been to the doctor half a dozen times before my asthma that I can remember. With the asthma, the visits were half a dozen a month.

No amount of inhalers seemed to do the trick.

My mother made sure everything was tried to fix things while my father made sure every doctor knew he thought I was faking it.

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