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Anatomy of an Asthma Attack

For anyone who’ve experienced them, Asthma Attacks are near-death experiences: time dilates, the tidal wave of panic subsides, and you genuinely believe that your number has been called and that you’re then scheduled to see the big guy.
As a preface, I sometimes wonder whether the following happens to other people: sleeping with eyes open, the body is asleep and paralyzed, but the eyes see everything and the mind is awake. I’m no expert, so I don’t know whether this state of sleep (this state of non-sleep) actually exists or whether it’s my own private illusion, but its a chilling predicament to be in. My mind is awake, thoughts race through it, but I’m frozen in a paralysis prison and cannot act at all on these thoughts. Even more frustrating is the fact that I feel most creative during the phase between consciousness and subconsciousness, so during these “living paralysis phases” I often experience melodies which I’d like to record and save for future developement, if, I weren’t frozen in corporal subconsciousness. Does anyone else experience this “intraconsciousness”?
Let’s compound this described situation with a chest full of fluid. I think that the gods have to have their evil fun too. I have had a chest cold for the last two days, which has entailed much coughing and associated mucous. Anyway. Last night I laid down for sleep and slept well for about 3h. After that, I found myself in an intraconscious phase, complicated by the fact that my breathing passages were completely blocked. So, my body was asleep, my mind was awake and aware that no air could pass through to my bloodstream. The tidal wave of panic quickly subsided, I accepted and almost befriended the concept of a drowning death (“eh? this beats burning alive”), and wondered when I would be found in my apartment later on. Miniscule spurts of air would reach my lungs, taunting me with an ever more inaccessible concept of life. That was, for me, the worst part.
Obviously I survived to write this post. Its not the first time that this has occured to me. Its almost always in springtime, when pollination starts. I have taken medical measures to prevent this from occuring, but, its a phenomenon which occurs so infrequently that I’m always surprised by it again. “Asthma Attack? Again?”. Maybe this is why the panic subsides so quickly.
At the risk of alienating the non-asthmatic community, I’m posting this, in part, to relay the immense emotional roller-coaster that my respiratory system induces on me, and to probe the internet to see whether my symptoms are unique or common.


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    #1 - Permalink David Payne

    I often have a semi-conscious state with wonderful melodies in my head too and I never do capture them (dagnabbit!)

    Sometimes I have a ‘waking dream’ of feeling paralyzed. Maybe that’s not so surprising. I don’t recall the specific details, but when you are asleep and dreaming a part of your mind that controls motor responses does ‘shut down’. This stops you from flailing about whilst asleep. It may be that sometimes conscious awareness begins to kick-in before the motor control returns, hence the sensation of paralysis. I also seem to remember that my ex-wife spoke of this sensation several times.

    My advice: Give up the smokes and drink more beer. Quitting smoking will ease your respiratory problems and drinking beer will eventually kill your brain thus reducing the likelihood of ‘disturbing dreams’. Another common recommendation to improve health is to move to somewhere where the air is good. For you, I recommend Switzerland.

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    #2 - Permalink Simon

    This article opened my eyes.

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