My Double Lung Transplant

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Ode to Coughing Fits

You've been there. You've done that. You've felt the urge creep up suddenly when you wake up, and in the late in the afternoon and early early evening. The longer you hold it in and go without, the worse it gets and the more desperate you feel. You avoid talking, or making sudden noises, sometimes movements, b/c it will aggrivate that tell-tale tickle. You won't eat certain things that set it off, or even take a drink of anything. You sit there and kind of hold your breath, letting it out in intervals until you start to literally sputter. These are generally never wet sounding. They are almost always dry and they sound horrible.

You know what i'm talking about, it's everybody's favourite - say it with me people: THE COUGHING FIT.

The best and funnest i have to say, is The Coughing Fit that Happens in Public. When suddenly, you realize, "Wow, i havent coughed forever!" and bam! You wake the Dragon. You feel it well up inside your throat and upper lungs. You gulp for air, and that keeps it at bay. It keeps it at bay well enough until your stomach bulges out from all the air you've swallowed, and with each bit more it makes a sound like you've let out a nasty fart and nipped a bud. You immediately avoid talking, or you make an excuse like, "Oh, i have to go to the bathroom" or something lame. You pray to god that no one is in the bathroom, and that the acoustics are terrible. You race so you can be alone, and you let it out.

And you don't stop.
Nope, you keep going.
You bend over to let it out and take the pressure and pain away from your stomach muscles. You can't stop and you feel like your face may explode.
You begin to wonder if your lungs can really hold this much air, why are they so crappy?
You begin to realize that you cough harder and with more force than you actually can blow your PFTs at.
And then you stop.
And hold your breath.
You know there's more where it came from but you try to hold it in.
You sputter.
You know people can hear you.
You unsuccessfully try to muffle it with something.
Cough into something or pretend to sneeze.
You know the people think something terrible is happening but you choose to beleive they never heard it.
And that makes you feel better.
You are finally ok to step back into public and act as if nothing happens.
When people ask what took you so long you make some dumb excuse, even though you're still panting and coughing slightly.

Another coughing fit we've all had is the extra special, One-on-One. When it's just you, and one other person, in a quiet room, and The Cough decides it's time to go outside. This happens either during a movie, a sentimental part during a tv show, when the phone rings, or generally during any time where there is the least amount of noise to be heard.

And so it begins. You're sitting there and it comes up really fast and there is no way to escape. Oh tell yourself that if you let it out slowly, in cough intervals more or less, that will lessen the shock and embarassment of it. You race through your head about what you'll tell them.

"Oh, it's a dry throat."
"Asthma" *point to throat and smile*
*insert fake sneeze*
"Oh my allergies are so bad today!"
"Yea....i think i'm getting sick"

It's all bullshit and lies. They know it, you know it, but again, it makes you feel better and that's all that matters. So out it comes and it just doesnt stop. It comes hard and fast and you almost want to roll around and begin slapping your thighs or any cushins in sight. You try to play it off. This is the most unsuccessful and embarassing of all coughing fits.

Tied to this, is the LOL Coughing Fit. This is induced by laughter, and laughter as some people know, it's the easiest way to invoke a coughing fit. If you're like myself, you generally try to avoid laughing and just smile when something hysterically funny happens even though it's hard to do. Sometimes, you actually laugh and sput out some, and then you can't stop. Not like 'normal' people who sometimes get coughing fits from laughing, who have the ability to stop. This one goes on and on for a good 5 minutes when people have forgotten what was so funny in the first place.

It's not that funny after all.

If ever a time rolls around to have a coughing fit (which preferably would be never) it would be in the presence of myself, in my bedroom where i can shove my face into my pillow or bedding and it can be muffled. If and when i begin to suffocate, i sincerely hope that the loud bang from my body hitting the floor will cause people to race up the stairs and rescue me. Though these feel the safest, i would highly advise against them, lest you leave your door open so people can hear you and not bother you, and let you have your litte fit in private, with the illusion that you, and only you, know what is going on.

After all, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?

If you have a coughing fit in your bedroom or when you're alone, and no one is there to hear it, does it really echo that much and startle everything?

I hope the answer is no. And i sincerely hope this put a smile on your face and made you laugh. As bizarre as these unpleasant things can be, there is humour in all of it.

Good night children!


Amy said...

HA I fucking loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I get the LOL coughing fits all the time! Actually tonight I yelled that people have to stop making me laugh!!!!! Then of course they continue to do stupid shit to make me laugh MORE!!!! Dam family haha!!!!


Alice said...

AWESOME DESCRIPTION!!!!!! LOVE IT. And I'm with Amy on the LOL coughs, people exploit that!!! The weirdest thing after tx is trying to laugh like a normal person!!! you have to re-learn it... and THAT made my friends laugh...

BreathinSteven said...

You can always make me laugh, Bree... And Alice is right -- you have to re-learn some of the silliest things, like laughing... Where we snickered and held back because we wanted to avoid the coughing fit you so perfectly described -- now you can cut loose -- but after 20-30-40 years of holding back, it's hard to know how to cut loose!!!

I remember visiting the doc three or four weeks after transplant and in a very concerned tone, I told him that there was something wrong... Something wrong with my cough -- I wasn't coughing right... My wife was concerned because I was concerned and the doc asked me to show him... I took some deep breaths and did my best coughs, which now seemed like kinda-wussy coughs and looked at him with a "See!!! WTF?!?!" look on my face... And he returned an amused look and said, "Steve -- that's how normal people cough..."

Sometime soon, Bree -- coughing fits will be a thing of the past... We'll all be looking forward to that day...