Tag Archive: asthma


When I’m at work, one of the things I usually look forward is the daily visit of the FedEx Guy.  He usually shows up an hour or two after I get back from lunch.  I’ll sign for whatever he’s dropping off, he’ll ask me how I’m doing, and I’ll smile and laugh at whatever joke he happens to make that day.  It’s a nice break from the usual monotony of answering the phone and telling people, “If you want to have a seat, he’ll be right with you.”

However today, when the FedEx guy showed up, my boss literally ran out of his office so that he could greet him with, “Well, how about them Cowboys!?”

The FedEx guy started to shake his head and said, “Did you watch the whole game?”

Now, I should probably add that, until this afternoon, I have never even seen either my boss or the FedEx guy share so much as a simple greeting.  However, they were soon having a very impassioned conversation that, though they were both apparently speaking English, I could not begin to follow.

Finally, I managed to figure out that neither one of them was happy with the Cowboys.

Sitting behind my desk, I worked up the courage to interrupt them by asking, “Are the Cowboys not doing well?”

As soon as I spoke, both of their heads snapped in my direction and they both stared at me silently in apparent disbelief.

“No,” my boss finally said, “they’re not doing well.”

“Oh,” I meekly replied.

Now, I have to admit.  I’m not a sports fan.  I never have been.  Some of it’s because I associate most sports with having asthma attacks in public school gyms.  A lot of it is because I only had to hear that stupid thing about there being “no I in team” once before I decided that was nothing I wanted anything to do with.  There’s also the fact that I hate the fact that football players always seem to have sweat stains on their pants.  I mean, seriously.  That’s just really gross.  And I like to think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that some people are naturally into sports and some people are naturally into doing something worthwhile.

Of course, I’m not totally ignorant when it comes to sports.  I live in Dallas, Texas and there’s no way you can totally avoid sports around here.  Dallas is an sports-crazed city.  It’s part of the culture and you can’t escape it even if you want to.

So, I know that we have a football team that’s known as the Cowboys.  I know that Tony Romo used to date Jessica Simpson and I know that another player named Miles Austin is dating Kim Khardashian. 

I also know that Dallas has a baseball team called the Texas Rangers and the Rangers are apparently going to the World Series sometime tomorrow.  I’m pretty sure that they have to win four games to win a championship or something like that.

Dallas has a basketball team but, for the life of me, I can not remember what they’re called.  I do know that they’re owned by Mark Cuban who briefly had a really, really bad reality TV show that was a rip-off of The Apprentice.

I’m about 75% sure that we have a hockey team.  I remember that in college, me and my friend Kendra briefly decided that we were going to be hockey fans.  Kendra actually stuck with that plan but I kinda ended up getting distracted by …. well, I don’t really remember what.

Dallas might have a soccer team too.  Who does David Beckham play for?  And another thing — what’s the deal with soccer riots in Great Britain?  Oh, and yes — I know that soccer is called football everywhere else.  I don’t care.  It’s a stupid game.

Oh!  I just realized that I know the name of one soccer player!  Carla Overbeck.  But, I should admit that the only reason I know about her is because she’s in this PSA that shows up on the Lifetime Movie Network every 20 minutes or so.

Shortly before I graduated college, I attended a workshop for women who were preparing to enter the job market.  One of the lectures I attended (and kinda listened to though, I should admit, it was a very long lecture and I’ve usually only got a 7-minute attention span at best) dealt with the difficulty the some women have communicating in a male-dominated workplace.  And one of the main difficulties cited was that men often speak in sports terminology.  I guess it’s their own secret code.

To be honest, at first, I thought that the lecturer was overstating the problem.  How hard, I wondered, could it be to figure out?  I mean, I’m not into football but I know what a touchdown is and I know that “hitting a home run” is a good thing.  I always thought I knew what guys were referring to when they talked to first, second, or third base (though the specifics — especially the meaning behind second — always seemed to vary depending  on which guy was explaining it).  But the lecturer started to reel off all the phrases and terms that had apparently been causing confusion and, as I listened, I felt like I was attending a Latin Mass.  I recognized the sounds that were being made but they didn’t make a damn bit of sense to me.

So, no, I’m not a sports fan and if that means I’m conforming to some sort of stereotype, so be it.  Quite frankly, as I listened to my boss and the FedEx guy suffering such angst over the Cowboys, I was happy to be ignorant.  Seriously, I already have enough drama in my life without concerning myself with whether or not a bunch of strangers can score a certain amount of points.

Life’s too short to get upset about something as silly as sports.  Especially, when someone like Gretchen makes it to the finale of Project Runway while Michael Costello gets sent home.  Now that’s something to get upset about…

As I write this, I am tired, I am sore, my boobs hurt, and my right leg is determined to cramp up on me.  As I consider my current state, one question continues to repeat itself in my mind:

Don’t you hate it when a foolish new year’s resolution comes back to bite you in the ass?

For instance, I resolved — during the early hours of January 1st, 2010 — that I would start taking better care of myself this year.  No more staying up for 96 hours straight, no more taking pills just to see what they do, no more dealing with boredom with alcohol and anonymous internet flirtation.  No, I decided as I popped an unmarked white pill and stared at the screen of my laptop glowing in a strange man’s bedroom, from now on, I am going to live healthy!

And, to a large extent, I’ve managed to do just that.  I just wish somebody had prepared me ahead of time for just how boring it is to live healthy.

However, one thing that I am coming to slowly enjoy is running.

I’ve always suffered from pretty severe asthma, to the extent that I’m on a first name basis with just about every paramedic and ER nurse at Richardson Medical Center.  Earlier this year, I read that running can actually good for people with asthma and so, I decided that would now be my thing.  I decided I would be a runner.

One thing you should understand about me — when I decide I’m going to do something, I do it.  Even if I really don’t have the slightest idea how to do it, I still manage to do it.  Even if all evidence shows that I’m doing it completely incorrectly, I’m still going to do it.  Some people would call this stubbornness.  Me, I call it…well, okay, it’s true.  I’m stubborn.

So, since I moved to a safer and better neighborhood last July, I’ve been attempting to run on a regular basis.  When I get home from work, I’ll change into shorts, sports bra, and t-shirt, put on my running shoes, tie my hair back in a pony tail, and I’ll run from my house to a Target that’s located a few blocks away.  Then I’ll run back home and try not to pass out.

When I first started running, I literally thought the idea was to run.  I would literally step out of the house and just start running somewhere.  After the third asthma attack, it occurred to me that maybe it would be a good idea for me to pace myself as opposed to just seeing how quickly I could get from one location to another.  That seemed to work a lot better.

Running calms me down.  Everything you’ve  heard about how running can give you a chance to release every-day stress and clear your mind is true.  I always seem to do my best thinking while running.

It also does seem to be helping my asthma.  Honestly, this is a hard point to prove.  People who have heard me wheezing after I get back from a run tend to disagree with me on this.  However, as the person who actually has had to live with it for 24 years now, I can tell you — without a doubt — that I am actually breathing better now than I ever have in the past.

Admittedly, I’m still making up a lot of this as I go along.  Since I’ve started running, I’ve made it a point to watch other runners.  I noticed that a lot of them run in place while waiting to cross the street.  I decided I should probably do that too.  However, after the first two times, I just ended up feeling stupid so now I either just run across the street and hope no one’s coming or else I use the Don’t Walk sign as an excuse to rest for a few minutes.  I also noticed that many runners tends to stop and check their pulse so I’ve started trying to do that as well.  I guess I’m supposed to keep count or something but, to be honest, I’m usually just happy to discover that, after running in the Texas heat, that I still have a pulse.

There’s a few other disadvantages:

Since Texas weather often means a thunderstorm while the sun’s shining, it’s difficult to maintain a regular running schedule.

I broke my ankle in two places when I was 17 and I’ve always wondered if it actually healed correctly.  The way it sometimes throbs after I go running leads me to suspect that it did not.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that boys in pickup trucks will honk their horns and shout comments at any woman they see on the sidewalk, even if she is soaked with sweat and obviously having a hard time catching her breath. 

One reason I didn’t run when I was living in my old apartment is because I didn’t always feel safe out in that neighborhood.  My new neighborhood is definitely safer but that doesn’t mean I feel safe enough to totally let my guard down.

There’s several gyms and health club type places near my house.  A Gold’s Gym just opened up across the street from the Target that I run to.  Every time I go to the movies, I drive by one of those 24 hour Fitness places.  My sister Erin keeps telling me that I should check one of them out if I’m really serious about this whole exercise thing.

But, I don’t want a personal trainer.  I don’t want to have to deal with some pumped up guy who is going to tell me to “feel the  burn” or whatever it is those people say.  I don’t want someone who is going to say, “Today, let’s work on your abs,” because I know that I’ll misunderstand him and think he said, “Let’s work on your ass” and it’ll just be an awkward situation all around.  Those people annoy the Hell out of me, regardless of whether they’re working down the street from me or if they’re appearing in shows like The Biggest Loser or movies like Burn After Reading

(Though, as a sidenote, I do think that was one of Brad Pitt’s best performances.)

No, sorry.  I do not want to run with other people who are going to stop me so that they can spend an hour of my time pontificating about what I’m doing wrong or what the proper way is to do this or that. 

What those people will never understand is that I don’t care if I’m doing it correctly.

I just care that I’m having fun doing it.

And once I’m no longer enjoying it, I’ll no longer do it.

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor.  However, I do see a doctor on a fairly regular basis and I am a certified hypochondriac.  And I did watch the first season of Grey’s Anatomy as well as every single season of Lost, which featured several medically trained characters.)

ADD: Six Dexedrine a day

Asthma: Inhaler, ProAir

Bipolar Disorder: Lithium (use at your own risk)

OCD: Clean, clean, clean

Panic Attacks: Count to 10, Close eyes tight

Back Pain: Advil, Upgrade to a D-cup

Ankle Pain: Darvocet

Hyperopia: Contact lenses, glasses, squinting

Hunger: Sweet-and-sour chicken

Lack of Appetite: Lay off the speed

Cold: A big old comforter with a colorful floral design, Absorbing body heat

Hot: Air conditioning, Less clothes, No clothes

Underweight: Binge, Don’t Purge

Overweight: Diet, Walk, Gym, Wear black, Stay home

Sleepy: 10 capsules of Dexedrine every 6 hours

Insomnia: Dramamine

Insecurity: Black thong panties, a camera, and the bathroom mirror

Vanity: Stand in front of bathroom mirror, hold a ruler up to your nose.

Happy: Fox News, MSNBC, CNN

Sad: Movies, Cats, Shopping (Half-Price Books, Fry’s, Clare’s, Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters, H&M, The Limited, Victoria’s Secret), Drinking, Flirtation, Leave before he wakes up

Dry: Sitting in a dark movie theater with a friend

Wet: Always bring an extra pair of panties

Calm: Run in circles

Tense: Massage, Brownies

Period: Midol, Aleve, Vicodin, Tampax Pearl, Profanity and tears (if early), Panic (if late)

Straight: Perm, Rainy day, Curling iron, Fall into bed

Curly: Desert wind, Conair SS9

Conservative: Get laid

Liberal: Get dumped.

Lack of Creativity: Theft

Excessive Creativity: Isolation

Blandness: Suicide (Yes, that does seem like a bit extreme of a cure.  It also provides a wonderful incentive not to be bland, don’t you think?)

If the above cures don’t help, don’t call me in the morning.  You’ll just bring us both down.

Insomnia

For as long as I can remember, there have been nights when I’ve been held prisoner by insomnia.

Tonight is one of those nights. 

Some of it has to do with the fact that I’m a naturally hyper person.  In my family, I’m notorious for being the one who can’t sit still, the one who can only be happy if she’s listening to the sound of her own voice.  My oldest sister once told me that I had the ability to tell the longest stories about absolutely nothing.  When I was growing up, my mom always used to say, “Slow down and breathe, Lisa Marie.  Slow down and breathe.”  It was good advice then and it’s good advice now.

Some of my insomnia has to do with the various meds I take.  When I first left home for college, I’d regularly pop seven or eight capsules of Dexedrine every morning and stay up for four or five days straight.  The third day was always the best.  That was when my mind was tired enough to be open to any idea yet still so energized that it could explore those ideas.  By the fourth or fifth day, I would lie often find myself simply lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling, fascinated and frightened by the shadows taking shape above me.  When sleep did come, it was  the most wonderful and precious sleep that I’d ever had.  It was almost worth staying up for those five days just to get to sleep for 5 wonderful hours.

Of course, there were drawbacks.  Nothing is ever perfect, is it?  I’ve always suffered from asthma and not sleeping for days at a time certainly did not help my breathing.  Sometimes, by the time I finally went to sleep, it felt as if my heart was literally about to explode from my chest.  As much as I loved the way Dexedrine focused my mind, my friends complained that I was now distant and defensive.  And why wouldn’t I be?  I knew how they’d react if they knew the real reason why I was behaving the way I was.  I knew they’d sit me down and tell me about all the dangers and it wasn’t something I wanted to hear.  It was easier to just force them away on my own terms as opposed to having them abandon me on their’s.

I can still remember once trying to drive five simple miles after having been awake for five days.  Sitting in the passenger’s seat was my roommate, Kim.  After the third time that I nearly crashed while trying to change lanes, Kim ordered me to pull over and let her drive.  For years afterwards, I was so very mad at her for that.  Its only recently that I realized she wasn’t trying to make me feel like a child.  She was simply trying to get across town without getting killed.

Dexedrine not only eliminated my need to sleep but it also eliminated my need to eat.  Now, to be honest, this seemed like a pretty good deal at first.  Sometimes, it still does.  However, by the end of my first spring semester, I was 5’5 and I barely weighed 100 pounds.  When I went home for the break before starting my summer classes, I spent my days feeling listless and weak.  My voice was hoarse from days of talking nonstop.  My mom asked me if I was sick and I said I was just tired.  It had been a long semester.  She never asked me if I was abusing my meds but there was something in the way she looked at me.  It may have been my own paranoia or maybe she had figured it all out.  At the time, all I knew was that I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing. 

It wasn’t just the Dexedrine, of course.  I’ve always had a tendency to be self-destructive and abusing my meds was just the latest manifestation.  All of my life, I’ve indulged in behaviors that, taken alone, posed no threat.  Only when combined did they become dangerous.  At that time, Dexedrine was just one of the bigger parts of that combination.

I still take Dexedrine for ADD.  I take 2 capsules a day and, for the most part, they do their job well.  However, depending on when I take them, they do sometimes still keep me up.  More often than not, I still have to remind myself to go to bed.  Some nights, that reminder is all it takes.

This is not one of those nights.

And then there’s the other things that keep me up.  These are the parts of my life that I still have trouble talking about.  I hint about them.  I write lots of poems about them.  But I still can’t bring myself to speak of them aloud.  I wish I could and someday, I know I’ll have to.  But that day is not today.  These are the things that still haunt me when I sleep.  These are things that I try to hide in the darkest parts of my mind.  I hide them there because I know if I reveal them, most people will no longer look at me and see Lisa.  Instead, they’ll just see another victim.  That’s probably my greatest fear, to be defined by the actions of others as opposed to being defined on the basis of who I am.

I am not a victim because, in the end, the day is mine.

And someday soon, the night will be too.

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