The computer in the allergist's office diagnosed early stage COPD. My primary care physician offered that as a possibility but wants to rule out other things. Allergies look like a no-go. Granted, they didn't test me for everything under the sun. But the only reaction I had for the allergy test was to the histamines they use to verify that you do indeed have reactions. The chest X-Ray came back clean, which was a huge relief after the allergy testing found nothing. But there are a zillion other things to rule out: asthma, some sort of odd infection, tiny blue men building an invisible colony in my bronchial tubes because the star that their minuscule little planet orbits is dying.
The hardest part is that coughing uses up a lot of energy. Most days, at least the ones that aren't the pretty good ones, I come home and it's all I can do to watch the dodo box until I fall asleep. The nights I have class, I find myself struggling for breath while trying to pay attention to the lecture and keep the coughs quiet. I'm not the only person trying to pay attention.
And then there are the days that I feel myself coming down with a cold. I get that feverish feeling. I get that feeling of my nasal passages clogging up a bit. I get a touch of malaise. I wonder, seriously, if this cold is going to be the death of me. I know, with no doubt, that this is going to suck and suck real bad. I'm going to have more coughing fits, especially in the evening and nighttime. I'm going to lose sleep when I need it the most. I'm not going to have the energy to finish that which needs to be done at home, at work, at school.
So here I am struggling for breath and I see the kids at the university lighting up their cancer sticks. I go to my family reunion and see my cousins lighting up their cancer sticks. It takes a good deal of restraint not to give them a lecture. Or, more honestly, it takes most of my restraint not to give them what-for and threaten to kick their fucking asses. Sometimes, it would seem, I lack that restraint.
The only thing left to do is to save myself from despair. I pour a decent martini. I turn on the Pandora station that I seeded with Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. Tomorrow will bring a new day. It may be a bad day. It may be a good day. It might be the day that my doctor finally figures out the source of my symptoms. It may be another day of facing this faceless beast. What the future holds, I do not know. What I do know is that I have this present moment and what I do with this present moment is the most precious thing that I have.
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