My shitty lungs made me different in a way that I didn't want to be different. I've written before about growing up in a small town and feeling apart, and part of what caused me to feel like an outsider was the constant need to be careful. Not being able to really run around, because my lungs didn't support it. Missing big chunks of school because I was sick. Staying in from recess when it was cold because I couldn't handle it. Worrying about gym and fitness tests, because no matter how fit I was or wasn't, I couldn't do the running portion of the program.
My friends didn't treat me like a freak -- not for that -- but I felt like one. I felt like one enough that when I was having an episode so bad that my fingernails and lips would be blue from lack of oxygen, I would fight going to the hospital, insisting that I was fine, I didn't need help.
(I know that's crazy. You don't have to tell me.)
And then, in 2007, someone I adored died after having an asthma attack.
I had never considered this.
I had never considered that my shitty lungs could kill me.
My mom, apparently, had. She was on me to keep my rescue inhaler handy, to go to the doctor, to stay on top of illnesses (which go straight to my lungs) and use the latest meds.
Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn't. I don't like going to the doctor, so I'd put it off or let prescriptions go until I had a problem -- and then I'd make a half assed effort until I felt better and, once I did? Would forget about it again.
Asthma has been a part of my identity for so long that I felt justified in ignoring it. Whatever. Stupid lungs.
But then, today, a friend of mine lost someone she loved to -- of all things -- an asthma attack.
He was younger than I am.
Suddenly it sunk in. Watching her mourn her loss made me realize: my shitty lungs could KILL me. My refusal to care, to pay attention, to go to the doctor could end my life and cause the people I love this kind of pain.
I'm totally okay with feeling apart. I'm totally not okay with the idea that ignoring my shitty lungs could hurt the people I love.
So. New leaf.
Deep breath. And another, and another, for as long as my lungs agree to work... And I'll do what I can to make sure that happens for as long as it can.
Even if it means doctors.