Out of Breath and Paralyzed

My aunt died of an asthma attack. I wasn’t going to let it be the end of me.

I have had asthma since I was a kid. While others grew out of it, I didn’t. Blame it on genetics, I guess.

I don’t really recall being on maintenance meds for a long time. I did take Seretide everyday until I used up the whole inhaler, but that’s pretty much it. We never saw the need for maintenance meds since I didn’t have it often like every day or every week. But, when an attack comes, it can be very bad.

The first time an asthma attack was almost the end of me was when I was ten. For some reason, I think I pissed my Dad so bad he started yelling at me. With his deep, big voice, I got so scared that I locked myself if the bathroom and cried so hard. Half an hour later, I was having an attack.

They had to unlock the door and get me out. I don’t what else came with the attack but my hands were locked into fists so tightly that even the adults couldn’t pry them open. They put me on the nebulizer and they tried to get my hands to soften and open up. It took so long before the medicine kicked in that they almost had to bring me to the hospital.

My Mom was panicking and I remember being told not to do it to her again. Apparently, she was traumatized already from her eldest sister having asthma. Hers was so bad that Mom always had to rush her to the hospital. Her perspiration already smelled of her asthma medicines and she was so frail. She was so frail that a verbal fight with a foreigner customer in the resort of their aunt caused her to be angry and get an attack. That was her last attack. She didn’t make it to the hospital.

It was then that I understood why my Mom didn’t like dealing with my attacks. She bought me my meds and brought them to me when I get attacks but that’s pretty much it and a scolding to avoid doing what she thought might have been the trigger. Heck, I learned how to operate my nebulizer on my own! There were even times that I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to assemble everything by myself while having an attack.

Night. Most of my attacks come in the middle of the night. And while the attacks have been months and years apart as I grew into adulthood, they were still very bad.

What’s worse than an asthma attack though is one that comes in the middle of a sleep paralysis episode; another sleeping problem I get every now and then.

Last week, I had an asthma attack and wanted to get out of bed to get my inhaler. But, I found myself locked in a sleep paralysis episode. Tried as I might not to panic, the fact that I was having difficulty breathing made me feel like I was going out of my wits. In my mind, I was fighting to fully wake up but my body won’t respond.

The harder it became to breathe, the more I tried to wake up. Still, I remembered Mom’s warning. So, as difficult as it was, I tried not to panic anymore and to remember the drill when having a sleep paralysis episode.

I read somewhere that one cannot really wake him/herself during sleep paralysis and that one must simply wait it out. I guess though that try to focus on body parts one can start moving helps in getting the mind off panic mode. So, I tried moving my eyes, looking from left to right. Then, I tried wiggling my toes.

Eventually I woke up. Then, I woke my Mom up. She got me my inhaler and scolded me for not buying a replacement for the reserve inhaler I kept on my study table beside me bed after it has expired. Gosh, thanks Mom. If only you knew how I panicked a few minutes before thinking I was gonna die in my sleep.

I bought a new inhaler the day after.

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