What It Feels Like To Stop Breathing


We spent a wonderful Saturday at a friends house grilling hot dogs, blowing bubbles with the kids, and watching the dogs sit on each other like some weird frat prank. Overall a great day.

I should take a moment and rewind to the previous Monday. With the warmer temperatures and the pollen overload I was having a pretty difficult time with my seasonal allergies. So much so that I thought I was getting a sinus infection. I went to the local urgent clinic where I was diagnosed with Micoplasma (walking pneumonia). I was given a nebulizer treatment, a steroid shot, cough syrup, and a Z-pack. Sometimes you just need to listen to your body. I am quick to dismiss symptoms as “oh it’s just a cold”. Or “darn these allergies!”. I am glad I didn’t this time.

So, back to Saturday. We had an uneventful remainder of the evening. I even went out to pick up gyros for dinner. Sometime around 9:30 I could feel my chest tightening. I lied down on the couch to relax a bit but to no avail. I began to hear a crackle and wheeze followed by a gurgling in my chest. The more I tried to relax the harder it became to push air in and out of my lungs. Soon I was struggling to take each breath, having to close my eyes and visualize air coming in and air going out. The rise and fall of my lungs ached against my ribs. I couldn’t even call out to Kevin, who was in the kitchen cleaning up dinner.

What seemed a lifetime, Kevin came into the living room to see me hurting. He stared at me, unable to comprehend that his wife was in trouble. “Do you want to go to the hospital?” he asked? A single tear welled into my eye because yes, this is bad. I managed to wheeze “call Mom”. Kevin explained the situation to Dad and they were at our house in 15 minutes. While my Dad called my sister Karen, an ICU nurse, Mom and Kevin made a makeshift humidifier for me. The hot steam felt good, but was not working. I finally asked to be taken to the ER.

One thing about the ER, if you say you are having difficulty breathing or having any type of chest pain, you will be immediately taken past triage and into a room. The nurse put me in a wheelchair and as he rolled me down the hall he noticed the raggedness of my breath. “Are you asthmatic?!” I couldn’t even manage a word, but just shook my head no. Kevin had to answer all of the questions for me. I could thumbs up or down on yes or no questions, but any detail into my medical history was fielded by Kevin. All the time I am being questioned, I am live-wired to an ECG, a oxygen canula is inserted in my nose, and a pulse-ox on my finger. All of this in a 10 minute time span. I cannot remember if they immediately administered a nebulizer or if the doctor saw me first. It was a huge blur. I do remember getting a portable X-Ray and thanking my stars I didn’t have to be taken somewhere else in the hospital without Kevin. Once the doctor reviewed the film I received a second nebulizer treatment and a steroid shot in the hip. A VERY painful shot at that. It made my entire leg cramp up and for the first time I felt like I could scream.

The doctor came in and went over his findings: no full lobal pneumonia, most likely a bronchial attack brought on by the micoplasma. He asked if I felt well enough to go home and I emphatically said yes. I was tired. I wanted to be at home, in my bed, close to Hannie. I was discharged with enough medication to start my own pharmacy and instructions to follow up with my physician on Monday. Time lapse: 3 hours. Not too bad for a Saturday night in the ER.

Sunday is my parent’s day with Hannie and they took her to the zoo. I literally slept all day, save for eating some breakfast. I embraced this rest. I revelled in it. Occassionally I would wake for a moment in a cold-sweat, thinking I couldn’t breathe, but all was fine. I am fine. And my family and the good people at St. Vincent’s Hospital are all good in my book.

About Liesl

southern girl with a midwestern accent. hates capital letters. loves cheese.
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One Response to What It Feels Like To Stop Breathing

  1. Katie says:

    Okay, that is scary and made me cry! I am glad you are feeling better!

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