Breathing Space

Breathing Space

It was my mother's birthday and, as always, we were going out for lunch in a Chinese Restaurant in Norwich. Every year it was the same but it was great to see my mother happy so I never complained. That particular year she had been through a lot as most of our family decided to disown us as we weren't classed as good enough to be family. Her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and the family were against allowing her to visit her own mother and objected to her helping in any way. Her grandmother had died earlier in the year as well and she had been under a lot of stress because of everything that had happened. That morning when I went down stairs and into the kitchen mother was smiling; something she hadn't done for weeks.

We arrived at the restaurant at midday and sat at our usual table next to the window with a view of the river. The restaurant is an all-you-can-eat buffet so we helped ourselves to a plateful of food and returned to the table. I started getting a head-ache and feeling sick but mother was enjoying herself so I said nothing and tried to act as normally as is possible when your head is on fire and everything you eat barely makes it to your stomach! I forced myself to eat the remainder of the food on my plate and a bowl of ice-cream before informing my mother that I was simply too full to eat any more and she accepted this so we left the restaurant. Mother decided she wanted to go shopping so I obediently followed her, concentrating all my energy onto keeping my food within my body and keeping up with mother. I began getting out of breathe, although we hadn't walked very far and when mother asked me if I was alright I replied that I was merely tired and that I would be fine. We left Norwich at 4.30 which is extremely early for us and when we got home my mother sent me to bed with two paracetamols and told me to get some rest.

As I ascended the stairs I felt my chest tightening and I was struggling to breathe again. When I reached my room I collapsed on the bed, took my inhaler and laid down trying to force my lungs to allow more oxygen in. After about quarter of an hour I had regained enough energy to change and get into bed, although I was tossing and turning for some time before I was finally comfortable enough to sleep. I awoke at 10am which is practically unheard of for me! I slowly sat up and my head was spinning, I felt sick and my chest felt unbelievably tight. I went into the kitchen and mother said I looked seriously ill as I was so pale. She told me to have a drink and something to eat, then lie on the sofa for a while and see if I felt any better, so I laid down and watched TV. I started struggling to breathe while watching the TV so mother rang the hospital and they told us to collect some tablets from Watton that would ease my breathing so we drove the 50 miles to Watton and the 50 miles home again. By the time we arrived back at home it was 7.30pm and I could barely breathe so I had some of the tablets.

I laid down on the sofa again and tried to rest but my chest was still tight and I still couldn't breathe very well so mother phoned the hospital again. They told her I should take my inhaler 10 times in a row (which is not recommended unless it is an emergency) and take me to the hospital if this didn't ease my breathing. It helped for a few minutes but then it started to get worse again so mother told me to get in the car and she'd take me to the hospital, 25 miles away. My head was spinning through lack of oxygen and my heart was racing. It was night time by then and everywhere was black except the blinding lights from car headlights which were burning my eyes and adding to the inferno already blazing in through head. I felt as though my mind would

explode as less and less oxygen was reaching it and all I could do was sit in the darkness surrounding me and hope I would be able to get enough oxygen to make it to the hospital.

By the time we reached the hospital I barely had enough energy left over from breathing to walk the 10 metres to the hospital entrance. They took me into a small room and put me on a heart rate monitor. My resting heart rate was 134 bpm (beats per minute). They put me onto a children's ward and gave me pure oxygen through a nebuliser. They took my heart rate again after what seemed like hours but was probably only a few minutes. It was 118 beats per minute so they told me to take my inhaler another 10 times. My heart rate was now 104 beats per minute so they put me on the nebuliser again. It was 1am on Monday morning by this time and I was extremely tired from having no sleep and through lack of oxygen. All of my muscles ached and my head felt like it had been trampled by a herd of elephants while a steam train went through it. I could hardly hear what the doctor was saying. They let me go home at about 3am and I stayed off school until Thursday as even just sitting at home watching the TV made me tired.

Even now my mother doesn't know that the asthma attack really started on her birthday. I don't tell her my asthma is bad unless I have to do so as she gets paranoid after that night. I was told a few days later by my doctor that if I had gotten to the hospital even just an hour later I may not have lived to tell the tale. I know my mother blames herself for letting me suffer as long as I did but I don't blame her. I should probably have said something sooner, but I didn't want her birthday to be ruined by me as the rest of her family had done that already. My mother cried that night when we got home, although she doesn't know I heard her. It must have been the hardest birthday she'd ever had as it was the first birthday when the family weren't there for her and she almost lost me as well.