Friday, 4 February 2011

I'm elderly today, and wheezy, and boy are they taking advantage.

When I were a nipper, I was in and out of hospital constantly with asthma. Being the age I am, treatment then was not the snazzy nebulisers of today, oh no, it was a little tent they puffed full of oxygen, plonked you in it, and hoped for the best (has she gone red again yet? Or still blue?) Then it was inhalers of brutal inefficiency, which necessitated you puncturing capsules full of foul steroid powder, and inhaling it. Yes, inhaling powder. How much fun is that for a 4 year old? I spent weeks off of school, watching black and white movies on BBC2, wheezing on the sofa eating toast, and honestly, quite enjoying myself once I could breathe enough again. My asthma faded as I hit my twenties, and even the plane trees and pollution of London didn't make it come back.

Sons' treatment is flasher: two puffers of space age design, and a nebuliser when needed that makes swooshy noises, on loan from the Health Visitor. He also has preventative powders that you mix with ice-cream (hey, what a hardship:kid, I was inhaling POWDER into my lungs) that have staved off any serious attacks. I still watch him like a hawk as soon as he gets the sniffles though.

I don't pay as much attention to myself. On Wednesday night, I woke up at about 2am feeling wheezy. I thought this was odd, sneaked into sons room and had a few puffs of his salbutomol. Ok. By lunchtime on Thursday, i'd rung the doctors to ask for an appointment. How foolish, of course there were none until 2014. But I'm not breathing very well, I said. Maybe someone could ring me back to tell me how much of my sons medicine I could neck? They duly did. As much as I wanted, apparently, and they'd see me the next morning. Even though I couldn't breathe very well, like, now? I gave up. I carried on playing with the kids, who by now had worked out that going up and down the stairs took me ages, so were running upstairs to fight each other, reasoning that it was a good five minutes worth of whacking before I got there. Husband rang me. Hearing me gasp "no, i'm fine, just a bit breathless", he ignored the pleas from me that I was doing....wheeze....fine....just cooking....fishfingers.... and drove home. In-laws arrived, I was whisked to hospital, arriving with blue lips and 70% oxygen, and after 6 nebulisers and a foul pink steroid drink, eventually released home again with a bumper pack of drugs and a strict ticking off for the GP's surgery. It appears I have adult onset asthma again. Apparently, many childhood sufferers have clear periods, only for it to return in middle age. Crap.

So, today, after a careful tip-toeing around this morning, and a gleeful son who was not taken to playgroup (it being a 3 mile walk. Not happening today), the kids have gotten over their disappointment that I wasn't actually staying in hospital ("Then I could have seen you with a mask on and it would have been cool!"), and initially, been very caring. Played quietly, sat on the sofa and read, and been considerate children. For about an hour. Then it started. "DON'T SHOUT! MUMMY IS POORLY! OR I WILL HIT YOU!" "NO, I WILL HIT YOU!" (runs upstairs to do so, remembering wheezy ascent of yesterday. They are still safe). Noises of violence from upstairs. I turn up "Cash in the Attic" louder.Then they argue about who is going to give me my puffer. Son takes his puffer. Daughter cries, she is the only one without a puffer. She wants poorly lungs too. Pretend to give daughter puffer. Son points out that medicine is only for real poorly people, not pretend, and now she will die. Weeping. 95th cup of tea of the day. My hands are trembly and the steroids are making me weird. Shall we all have spaghetti for lunch? Realise that I am like an elderly person. I can't walk far, I am wheezy, I am not safe to hold a hot teacup and the kids are running rings round me. Reasoning this, I ring up the in-laws and say they can take the kids out for the afternoon. There's really no difference.