Tuesday, March 14, 2006

i hate my lungs (warning: contains dickensian childhood scene)

Is this a 'pity me" post? Why yes, I think it is.

I have had asthma for 39 years, starting abruptly in 1966...in fact around October-November of that year. One month into first grade.

Many specialists say that childhood asthma is stress induced. Let's examine 1966, shall we?

I was in a first grade class that contained 41 children in a single room, with one teacher. (Mind you, this was a private Catholic school that charged an obscene sum for enrollment.)
Surprisingly, despite the asbestos wrapped pipes and the shredded textbooks, this wasn't too horrible in itself. It was in the classroom next door that the real concentration camp conditions were.

Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, the nun who taught that class was suffering from a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. When she became irritated at one of her six-year-olds, she would draw a circle on the blackboard, have them touch their nose to it, and then smack them in the back of the head with a hardcover math book. This we knew because our nun described exactly what was taking place over there, and threatened to have that teacher come and take care of us similarly if we acted up.

She lit into those children so hard that the chalk would bounce out of the trays on our side. The kids seated closest to that wall would get so scared they'd start to cry...and in true 'Catholic school horror story fashion', our nun, Sister Mary Petronella, would go crimson with rage and start slamming books on her desk and shouting at us to mind our own business... while in the background you could hear the kid in the other room screaming and crying and getting his skull cracked off the slate board while the nun bellowed gibberish at the top of her lungs.

I mentioned this at home, and my mom only laughed and showed me the scars on the underside of her wrists from the whippings she got in Catholic school. 'Hurts more there' she explained.

Finally one of the little kids from the other room ended up hospitalized with a concussion and a broken nose, and his parents had money, so of course then the shit hit the fan. But up until then, why, you could always tell the kids from Sister Clementines class...they were the ones with the bloody noses and two black eyes.

So yes, some stress.

Then of course there were the less-than-ideal conditions in the patient-run mental ward I was growing up in. I've treated that elsewhere, so 'nuff said on that point.
The punchline? Because childhood asthma was written off in those days as a 'psychological ailment', I was perceived as 'faking it' ( i.e waking up from a dead sleep unable to breathe, coming out in hives, coughing up things I refuse to describe, turning blue from lack of oxygen, sneezing so many times in a row that my throat bled and capillaries burst in my face) I received only token treatment for my asthma. At the time I was told that too many doctor visits cost too much money.

But see, my father was a career man in the navy. We had 100% medical coverage.

In spite of taking all the required precautions, asthma is a 'the more you get it, the more you get it' scenario so I'm only one or two jumps ahead of the game at any given time. I've always had respiratory problems-bronchitis, pneumonia of every stripe, bacteria busily evolving primitive societal structures in my sinuses, it's been pretty bad. In fact its been downright nightmarish. I've lost quite a few jobs because my resistance is so low I start racking up the sickdays as soon as I come into regular contact with the public.

And now I've got bronchitis again. Dammit to HELL! Every! Fucking! Spring!

Of course the days of 100% medical coverage are a thing of the distant past, so like most Americans in my income bracket, what I'm reduced to doing now is calling around to my friends and asking do any of them have any partial prescriptions of antibiotic laying around could I buy. Yeah, like trying to score weed. Not that I couldn't go to the doctor, but weigh half a day out of my life and the cost of the gas, and the cost of the visit, and the cost of the perscription without any co-pay, and well, fuck it.

So I sit here, full up to the tits with contraband Cephalexin. And, my darlings, I can only pity the holy, bleeding FUCK outta the next goddamn person who crosses my shit.
Have a nice day! :)


  1. Crikey. Thank fuck for the NHS - Britain may have shit weather and awful public transport, but at least we have free healthcare.

    And yes, there's nothing more evil on this planet then a nun. Especially a nun in charge of teaching children.

  2. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Here ya go! Jesus running around in a diaper singing 'I will survive'!



  3. Anonymous3:55 PM

    Terrible, terrible nun.

    will now run away prior to crossing anything.

  4. Woa. I like England. NHS. Woa. Well, get better soon. And, eh, I will avoid all nuns. It's funny, Idiot Youngest Sister might end up in a Catholic school. If only we weren't a family of atheist and agnostics. Oh well, Music Teacher plays organ at the Catholic Cathedral. We have an ace up our sleeve... Get well soon hon.

  5. spinsterella: i live literally steps away from NHC canada. it's like a tease. i can SMELL it.
    piggy and tazzy: ah am CURED! it's a mirry-cal! pah-RAISE yew JEEEZUZ!
    whinger: hey, i used to fear nuns. now nuns fear ME.
    ms. noshit: thank you, my darling. a couple years of parochial may be just what idiot sister needs, from the sound of her!-no, i take that back. too horrible to contemplate.

  6. That's the craziest nun story I've ever heard. I fortunately attended Catholic school in the beginning of the "don't touch my fucking kid" era.
    However, I've been asking people about their schooling, and one of them had an interesting story.
    "She had spilled some oatmeal on my homework and she got angry with me and told me to redo it. I thought, 'Why should I redo it when she's the one who messed it up?' So I went home that day, told my mother about it, and said, 'I'm not going to school anymore.' They had a parent-teacher conference and decided I would be better off at public school."

    Anyways, I hope you defeat the bronchitis. Best of luck finding your bootleg antibiotics!