Karine recalls the worst asthma attack she has ever experienced.
I was in high school. I think it was my sophomore year in high school. I was in my French class that started at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s funny, the details that you remember. I couldn’t tell you about anything else in my class schedule at that point in time of my life, but that I remember. It was my first class after lunch, and I ate something at lunch, I couldn’t tell you what, that triggered an asthma attack.
And I can remember sitting down in class and feeling that sensations, like my chest was getting smaller, like my lungs were getting smaller, and I couldn’t breathe as well. I was getting more and more wheezy, and my breath was becoming shorter and more labored, and I was starting to feel myself get light-headed because I just wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
I tried using my inhaler several times, and I finally excused myself, and I went and sat in hallway because something clearly wasn’t right. And my asthma wasn’t getting better, and as I sat in the hallway, I started getting that hefty, asthmatic cough, you know, that like natural instinct. You are desperately trying to clear your lungs, absolute futility coughing. It’s not going to do anything. It doesn’t clear your lungs, but you do because it makes you feel better for a couple of seconds. And the cough was getting worse, and it was like a whooping cough. And I couldn’t breathe, and my fingertips were starting to get numb.
I can remember that sensation. My lips were starting to get numb, and the teacher came out and checked on me because I was sitting on the floor, right by the door of the classroom, and she could see that things clearly were not right. And she immediately said she was calling 911, which she did. And I have no concept of time from that point forward, but what seemed to me like forever, the ambulance finally showed up, and there were, I think, three paramedics that came traipsing down the hallway of my high school with a gurney and equipment in hand. And they immediately started assessing the situation.
They gave me oxygen, the little tube that connects to your nose and wraps around your ears and the whole bit. And probably the scariest part is, I remember they were laying me down because I wasn’t holding myself up anymore, and they were trying to tell me that they were going to give me an IV. They wanted to get fluids and medications flowing, and I remember trying to tell them in between gasps for air that my blood pumps really strong. Like every time anybody has ever tried to take a blood draw from my arm, it tends to squirt and make a mess and that sort of thing, but I couldn’t say it.
I couldn’t get those words out of my mouth, and sure enough, as the paramedic put the needle in my arm, it just shot out all over the place and took a fair amount of cleaning up and patching up before they finally strapped me to the gurney and put me in the ambulance and took me to the emergency room, the rest of which I don’t remember.
I don’t really remember what happened after that. I remember my parents coming to pick me up, and I remember being at home, but the rest of it is really vague. It’s just kind of faded into my memories, but I remember that chunk significantly. And I just remember how scary it was to sit in a hallway at school by myself, recognizing that I couldn’t breathe and it wasn’t getting any better, and not knowing what was going to happen.
And then the whole process of the paramedics being there and the mess that was created when they put the needle in my arm, and then the next thing that I remember most significantly was being back at school a couple of days later and seeing the blood stains on the carpet in the hallway. And those blood stains were there until I graduated, a constant memory when I would walk that hallway of what had transpired.
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