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Pauline Lerner

August 12, 2005 at 6:49 AM

Gasp! Wheeze! Shudder! Gasp! Greetings from an asthmatic. I didn’t wake up until noon today and when I did I felt like was suffocating. I took my asthma rescue medicine and sat up and read until it took effect, about 20 minutes. I can feel it kick in because I suddenly feel alive and awake. I had something to eat, puttered around on my computer, and ventured out to the grocery store. Since I don’t have a car, “venture” means “walk” for me. After I walked a short distance, I got very tired, and I felt like someone was throwing knives into my chest. I took refuge in an air conditioned store that was having a going-out-of-business sale, with everything at 60% off. This was a silk floral store where I couldn’t possibly afford anything at full price. My refuge surprised me by precipitating an acute asthma attack. I had been in there yesterday because of the sale, and I had breathed normally then. This is a very typical asthmatic reaction. My lungs had been irritated (or assaulted) earlier in the day, and that made them hypersensitive to additional environmental insults. I put on my asthma face mask, and continued in the pursuit of bargains. (I got some gorgeous silk orchids, which are much easier to take care of than real ones.) As soon as I went out of the store, someone resumed throwing knives into my chest. I made it to the grocery store, took some more of my asthma rescue medicine, and waited for it to take effect. Then I bought some food that was good for me (fresh fruits and vegetables) and went out again. I had a few more things to buy, so I headed for another grocery store. I got mad at the Invisible Assailant who was throwing knives into my chest again, and I decided to do something rebellious and sinful. To me, “sin” generally means saturated fat and/or chocolate. The very thought of it raised my spirits. As soon as I got to the second grocery store, I headed for the freezer where they keep the ice cream. Joyous occasion! Breyer’s ice cream was on sale, buy-one-get-one-free. I knew that I had already done the buy-one-get-one-free thing a few days before, and I was not sure whether I would be able to stuff another two half gallons of ice cream into my freezer, but I had a happy thought: I would just have to finish one of the old half gallons to make room for the two new ones. I was so excited that I forgot to put my asthma mask back on when I got outside, but my body reminded me to do it. I was only a few blocks from home, but I was tired and gasping for breath again. As I approached my home, I looked with trepidation at the stairs that I would have to climb, and then a miracle happened. One of my healthy male neighbors came by and I had him carry the groceries upstairs for me. I put the ice cream in the freezer and then crashed. This time I especially enjoyed the escapist reading I was doing. As a major contrast to the hot, humid, polluted summer weather around here (near Washington DC) I’ve been reading a book by a woman doctor about her experiences at the South Pole. After reading and resting for a while, I felt much better. Aaaah, I’m going back to the kitchen now for some more ice cream.
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