Of Love And Asthma II: The Literal Version

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A wise man once said, omne trium perfectum. [Good post, that one. Deserved more comments.]

Things that come in threes are (1) inherently funnier, (2) more satisfying, or (3) more effective than other numbers of things.

Friendoftheblogron and I both poured scorn on this idea, but it turns out there might be something in it. Both on a micro (and a macro) level. So let’s clear the last of the asthma trilogy off the decks before we start the countdown to Strokiversary.

Strokiversary: Widely considered to be one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

The first asthma attack I experienced after my stroke — and my first, real, proper one, requiring a visit to hospital —  happened back in April. The details are here. [That one really deserved some comments. Got none. <sniff>]

That turned out to be a result of broncho spasms caused by the beta blockers I was on at the time. After my drug regime was changed to the — frankly, crappier — ones I’m on now, no problems for ages. Then about three weeks ago, from out of the blue, this happened:

We were lying in bed, and I was a bit wheezy. That doesn’t happen often these days, and when it does, I do some breathing exercises and usually it passes. So, Beth encouraged me to open my chest, breathe into my abdomen, and extend my breaths. She rubbed my back. I was hoping that if I could get off to sleep, everything would be better in the morning. All this stuff helped (well, the back rub was nice), but I couldn’t kick it. Eventually, I heard Beth and Paw Broon talking downstairs about the practicalities of a visit to the ER.

It turns out that there’s only one full service ER open late night in Edinburgh, way over on the south west side of town.

We don’t do drinking and hooliganism, y’see?

Now, I’ve often praised the NHS on apoplectic.me, but if that had been the deal in Brooklyn on the night of September 30, 2012, well . . . .

Anyway, a decision was made to call NHS 24. NHS 24 is kind of a telephonic triage system. You know, so the partner of a stroke patient who appears to be having an asthma attack can find out the best way to address it. In no time at all, Alison, the friendly paramedic dispatched by NHS 24, arrived in her little carbulance. Alison was very reassuring, and administered a nebulizer. Boom. Lot better. Not too long afterwards, the ambulance that the NHS operator had ordered turned up as well. I was bundled walked into the ambulance with Beth to be taken off to the south west and the Royal Infirmary.

This was the course of action for a number of reasons. To keep me under observation for a bit longer, to get some ‘roids, and to generate blog fodder with a comparative study of US and Scottish emergency rooms. But first, the ambulance trip itself. It was a nice, spacious vehicle, and the young EMT in the back with us was very nice. Turns out he was a bit of a rookie, so there were three professionals in the van, with the other two up front.

Finally, we arrived at the Royal. For many obvious and less obvious reasons, I’m a big fan of the Methodist Hospital ER in Park Slope, but I understand that New York ERs can be a bit spotty.

Hey! I was young!

The Methodist ER is usually quiet and professional, for all that the Slopers like to whinge about the hospital. The large, dark wood admission desk radiates the intended aura of calm. There are no gurneys slamming through swing doors. I would say that the place has that “unmistakable hospital smell,” but it doesn’t. There’s just a pleasant, fresh scent of cleaning supplies. Nothing overpowering. Coming in the main hospital entrance, a long ramp curves up and to the right, to cater for the Park Slope that gives the neighbourhood its name, as well as the inability of patients, stretchers, IVs and the like to climb stairs. There are skylights everywhere, adding to a pleasant sense of airiness, and giving one a sense of weightlessness.

On the other hand, I’ve heard stories of other New York emergency rooms where you have to change into a gown in the bathroom. “Not the first one. It’s being cleaned.” And that first bathroom is awash with blood. Methodist, on the other hand, would be as good, as peaceful, a place to die as any.

A Manhattan ER, yesterday.

The Royal tended to the Methodist scenario more than The Overlook Hotel. The curtained-off examination area allotted to me was palatial in its size. A few coppers came and went, but for a late night in the ER, things were very calm. I was awarded another nebulizer for my efforts, and the medics set about finding a course of ‘roids with which to send me home. Admittedly, the bloke in the waiting area while we waited for the 0230 had some pretty Renton-esque veins in his arm, but . . . .

Say, this nebulizer’s pretty good . . .

And that was that. Kind of . . . .

When I was researching last week’s post, I read the following by the academic lady from Rhode Island (not that one):

[Lanark’s protagonist] becomes a dissatisfied teen who constantly wages inner battles, and suffers from severe asthma, which is commonly known to be psychosomatic, and so has both physical and mental remedies.

I’ve been promising in the last couple of posts to finally tell the story of my visit to the Royal, and various parts of this post have been rattling about in my head for a few days. Better than my lungs, I suppose. But, sure enough, I had another attack on Friday night. It really drove home the veracity of the remark in Of Love And Asthma, that:

Asthma is the opposite of meditation, it appears to me. While the mind focuses on but a single thought — the struggle to breathe — the sufferer doesn’t find samatha or vipassana. Instead, he “lies awake racked by anxious thoughts and the threat of suffocation.”

Fortunately, I was sent home from Royal with a rescue inhaler. I’ve come to be quite leery of these, having found a tendency for the asthma patient to become reliant it upon it, and indeed, more susceptible to attacks when using Ventolin (or any of the similar medications) regularly. [This is an uninformed layman’s impression, anyway.] But, after another plucky attempt to fend off the wheezing, I had a wee blast of the inhaler, and problem solved.

I’ll be interested to find out what got rise to these recent attacks. Is it meds, again? Maybe something to do with impending dose of the common cold that was creeping up on me? Or the single glass of red wine I’d had on each night? Dunno. I’ll let y’all know when I find out. But one of the nice things is that I may well find out soon. Thanks to the joined up provisions of the NHS, a few days after my visit to the Royal, a letter came in from my GP, asking me to call to schedule an asthma evaluation. Soon, I’ll be blowing into a cardboard tube, discussing my meds and my personal habits. It’s a reassuring thought.

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