The man felt sick. He couldn’t lay down to sleep. He was having trouble breathing. He grabbed his emergency inhaler off the counter and took a puff. He paused. There was no relief…no change. His lungs were tight and he started to panic a little. He took another puff….and again no change. He knew he was under the weather the last couple of days, but this was new. He had never felt his lungs struggle so much. He looked at his phone….
“…should I call 911?”
He called his sister and asked for advice. He could not finish his sentences, he had no air. She yelled into the phone.
“…Dan…go…go…now. I am going to call 911 now if you do not leave. Go to urgent care now. You are scaring me…go now!”
His wife was already on the phone with the doctor. She grabbed their daughter and rushed to the car. The man walked slowly to the car, he had no energy. He opened the car door and tried to sit down, but it made his breathing worse. He sat back down and was gasping for air.
He rolled down the windows and fresh air blew into his face. His wife sped off into the morning sun. The man looked back and saw his daughter’s worried eyes through the mirror. She had no clue what was going on. But, she stayed silent. He could hear his wife talking to her, but it was muffled.
“…what’s wrong with Dad?”
“…it’s an attack baby…an asthma attack.”
He could not focus. Halfway there and his mind raced.
“I’m not gonna make it…i’m so stupid…i’m so stupid…i’m gonna die right here…and my wife and kid are gonna see the whole thing….”
Water filled his eye sockets. He stared into the mirror and saw a 36 year old man fighting for his life.
The car stopped and his wife raced out the car door with the little one. The man mustered whatever strength he had and had a renewed hope. His lips were purple. He walked to the front of the line and spoke with as much clarity as he could.
“…I….I…I’m not gonna make it.”
The receptionist stood up and sent for a wheelchair. And just like that the man was whisked to a backroom with a doctor. He was hazy and his eyes were heavy. But, the doctor kept asking questions.
“Hey…what’s your name? Stay with me here…what’s your name?”
She barked orders to two assistants.
“I need NEB right now….and he needs an injected steroid…now please.”
She turned back to the man.
“Look…you are not getting enough oxygen to your brain.”
A nurse ran in and draped a mask over his head and…….medicine filled his lungs. He could feel the tightness loosen a bit. Another nurse injected a steroid into his arm and he felt loopy. But, he was going to make it.
The doctor smiled and watched the man receive life again. The man was crying through his mask…tears fell down his face.
Two breathing treatments later, the doctor walked in and sat down in front of the man she saved.
“I’m gonna be honest with you Daniel. You were close….close to not leaving this place alive.
He was weak but he could talk.
“…I know…I know. I started to panic…I thought I was gonna die. I thought my family was going to see me die…right in that car. Thank you so much…thank you sooo much.”
The doctor smiled.
“That’s our job. Now, are you taking the right medicine? To prevent these attacks?”
The man shook his head.
“Ok, this is a lesson learned. Asthma is serious….and you need to take every precaution to prevent this from happening again. I’m give you everything you need….”
She walked out the room and left the man to think about everything that happened that morning.
He thought about his wife….and how she sprang into action to get him where he needed to go. He was no help at all, he was already gone…but she grabbed the little one and kept calm while she called doctors and drove him to the doctor that eventually saved his life. He imagined the stress he put her through.He would not have made it if she wasn’t there for him. And while she was waiting for him in the hospital, she was fielding calls from worried relatives and friends. He thought about what his little one was thinking and remembered her saying.
“….is Dad having a heart attack? An attack?”
He remembered her sad eyes through the mirror.
The doctor returned with a bag filled with inhalers….and antibiotics. Everything he needed to prevent this from ever happening again.
“I will be your main doctor now…and I will be checking on you.”
He exited the room and walked into the lobby and saw his wife and daughter. He smiled weakly but he was jumping for joy inside.
The drive home was spent reflecting what happened.
His wife turned to him.
“You scared me…you need to take care of yourself. When you get sick, you can’t avoid it. You need to see a doctor immediately…don’t put it off.”
He knew she was right….and he was stubborn…but she was right.
“You have a few people angry with you right now…call your mom…and your sister.”
He laughed and prepared for the angry words…but it was love…it was all out of love.
“Anak…I am going to punch you when I see you…and so will your sister.”
This happened to me this past monday…and the next day I looked at life differently. I need to live….there is no time to rest. Yes, I need to take care of myself. And it made me realize that my body does have limitations….and that I could leave this world in a minute. I received a new found focus….a focus to make sure that I am on this planet as long as possible to be here for my family.
I’m an idiot….and now this idiot needs to learn to take care of himself.