Sunday, November 12, 2006

Maybe I Was Asthmatic

Call me crazy, but I have this “thing” about breathing. Mainly, that I like to.

More specifically, I can’t stand to have my airway obstructed, even in the slightest way. I can’t stand to breathe in tepid, recycled air. I have a physical, mental, emotional NEED to be able to draw in deep, cleansing, bracing lung-fuls of air at all times. Otherwise, I feel claustrophobic.

I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I couldn’t hide under the covers because I couldn’t stand having my face sheltered by the blankets. If it was a choice between the monster in the closet and having to breathe my own old, used, warm, exhaled air, well, I’d take my chances with the monster.

Maybe I was an asthmatic in my previous life.

As you can imagine, this has put quite a damper on my current lifestyle opportunities. I can’t be a cowboy because I could never wear a bandana over my mouth. I can’t be a belly dancer because I could never wear a veil over my face. I can’t be a chain-smoker because I could never be hooked up to oxygen with a tube in my nose. I can’t hang out in saunas because I can’t stand to breathe in wet air. I can’t even be a bank robber, for pete’s sake, because I could never wear a pair of panty hose over my head. And I discovered this past week that sadly, I can’t be a brain surgeon because I could never wear the mask over my face.

Maybe I was an asthmatic in my previous life.

Whatever the case, it came about when Blaine had his PICC line inserted on Thursday. Although a minor-enough procedure that it can be done in his hospital room, it still requires a sterile field since they’re inserting a catheter so far up into his arm. Safety procedures, hospital policy, blah blah. The technician told me I was welcome to stay and watch, but I’d have to wear a mask.

“Sure,” I say, thinking it will be interesting to watch. I’m getting sort of good at this gory hospital stuff. She hands me a mask, I slip it on and hook it behind my ears ………… one second, two, three ………… aaagh, get this thing off my face! I snatch off the mask, take a deep breath, and excuse myself from the room.

A few moments later Blaine’s nurse walks by and asks why I’m out in the hall. I smile sheepishly and explain that I just can’t wear the mask on my face and cover up my mouth that way.

His reply? “Don’t feel bad. I have chronic bad breath, too.”

Maybe I was an asthmatic in my previous life.

Or maybe I just needed a breath mint.

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