March 18, 2015, 10:35 PM
“There are a million things one might do with a block of wood. But what do you think might happen if someone, just once, believed in it?” – Mr Magorium
In 1995 we took our beloved Amtrak to Arizona. After visiting with family, we went, as is our wont, to the Grand Canyon. Rich’s asthma had been acting up so we made sure to take his inhaler with us. We’d be at about 7,000 feet above sea level and there was sure to be some effects. When we got to the hotel in the park and opened our suitcases, there was a distinct albuterol smell… the inhaler had discharged in the bag leaving the cartridge empty.
The next morning, Rich began to have an asthma attack. We quickly went to the clinic on the park’s South Rim. Because of time differences, insurance approvals and needing to get a prescription from our primary care physician, it took some time to get the needed refill. And as we waited, Rich’s asthma got progressively worse. It seemed that almost as soon as he was handed the inhaler, his wheezing began to abate.
Six years later, we once again were at the Grand Canyon, this time on the North Rim. We decided to bring a prescription with us and fill it at the park instead of having it discharge en route. Now at 9,000 feet above sea level, we were all feeling the effects of the thinner air. As we checked into our cabin, we asked at the desk where the clinic was to get the prescription filled. The North Rim has no clinic; the closest pharmacy was over an hour and a half away. What, we wondered, happened in case of injury or illness? Ah… For that you would be airlifted out.
Not an option.
Thinking back, we remembered that there was a camp store on the South Rim, they had Primatene; an over the counter inhaler. We quickly got directions to the camp store on our side and made our way through the alpine forest. Like everything else on the northern part of this national park, services are minimal… much more so than on its southern counterpart. They had no Primatene.
I looked at Rich, pointed my finger at him and said in my mom voice, “NO! YOU WILL NOT!”
And he didn’t.
The mind/body relationship is a strong one. This time around, as the RSV kicked in just a little bit of viral pneumonia, Rich’s asthma would not resolve. As his prednisone increased to extreme levels, the side effects of the-medicine-we-dread-most was keeping his chest tight and breathing difficult. After an increase in the nebulizer treatments helped him get off the supplementary oxygen, the wheezing and tightness just would not go away. He was a proverbial block of wood.
In our room is a picture of our family at the Grand Canyon in 2013. The solution was there… waiting for us. We had to believe.
We hit that prednisone wall with a two pronged attack. Talking it all through, we thought about our ridiculous antics at the canyon. Learning from it all, we determined that the mind was going to be the key to getting this resolved. But it needed some help chemically as well to allow the positive energy, the relaxing thoughts, to break through the wall that the prednisone builds up. At the mega doses he was receiving, maxing out at 160mg/day, it was a thick wall. We had our work cut out for us.
Our pulmonary doctor had told us yesterday not to ask when we would go home. The answer, he said, was up to Rich.
As always, the man speaks the truth.
We asked for the Xanax to be increased an additional dose per day to help cut through the prednisone-blues. From the rest of our bag of tricks, we pulled a remedy here and there. Overnight our discussion on mind over matter fermented and took hold. In the morning, the doctor was pleased with the improvement… as were we.
Yesterday they began cutting the prednisone dose in half. Today, half again. Tomorrow, the medication will no longer be administered through his port, but will be taken in pill form, finally down to the same dosage as his last discharge. Friday, we go home.
We begin to see prednisone loosen its grip. It will be a long two months for Rich to completely wean off this necessary bane. But with the coming of spring, we’ve got plans. And as for pneumonia, we’re thinking third time’s the charm… we’re pretty much done with it. There’s more to do in life than xrays and CT scans and nebulizers. We once more take our lead from Edward Magorium, proprietor of the Wonder Emporium, Toy Empressario, Wonder Afficianado and Avid Shoewearer who knowingly said, “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”
In the season of resurrection, it’s time for us too to rise to the occasion!