Sunday, February 16, 2014

Breathing bad

It may be hard to believe, but I have never actually watched Breaking Bad, though I've heard great things about it.  Maybe some day, though I have so many other movies and TV series to work my way through.  I just always drop watching such things lower than reading or even writing in my priority list.  I'm still only 25% of the way through Ikiru, and that's a film I really do want to watch again, particularly before my stint at my current job (which is a government gig) is up.

Nonetheless, I thought I would mark the fact that I have just about gotten over my cough.  The fact that I rode my bike a little today (though not as much as I wanted -- darn you Vancouver rain!) helped break up the stuff in my lungs.  Long showers and cough medicine also played a role, and a bit more rest than usual.

I've generally always had problems with my lungs, which is most likely due to being a premature baby in the early 1970s when medical technology wasn't nearly as advanced.  I couldn't come home right away.  I also caught pneumonia when I turned one or two, which was also pretty dicey.  I've actually had pneumonia diagnosed 3 times, and probably I didn't find out about it once or twice when I actually did have it.

I had terrible asthma as a child, and recall a few times I simply could not catch my breath.  It is terrifying.  Once was at Scout camp where they insisted on locking up my medicine.  (I think/hope that they no longer keep kids' inhalers away from them, but some folks continue to foolishly follow foolish regulations.)

Oddly enough, I took up jogging in high school and that actually seemed to strengthen my lungs a bit to the point where I rarely have trouble breathing -- until I get sick when it all shuts down.  In grad school there would be months I couldn't shake a cough.  But this only happened every few years.  I have gotten better about going to see a doctor if the cough just can't be beat in a few weeks.

I don't jog anymore, but I should be biking fairly regularly again and I also have been swimming a bit more.  This all seems to help. I still tend to take breathing easily for granted once the cough has passed.  I think it is just too worrisome to dwell on it, so I repress the trouble I have had in the past (and may have in the future).  The truth is it probably will be some lung problems that do me in, but hopefully not for many more years.  I'm debating doing a bit more of this (writing what I consider an Autoblography), but for now I'd probably stop short around year 30.  Too much after that that I wouldn't want my kids to read...

To bring this back around to art, I'm sure there are a least a few plays/movies about children struggling with asthma, as it has become such an issue in the African American community.  However, I cannot think of one off hand, and am not really in the mood to Google.*  However, I do remember catching an interesting play by Naomi Wallace called The Fever Chart: Three Visions of the Middle East, though in fact she added a fourth episode for Eclipse Theatre's 2011 production in Chicago.  The one that is of most interest was about a female Israeli soldier who had cystic fibrosis (I believe) and had just undergone a complete lung transplant.  An Arab man turns up and tries to convince her that her lungs are actually those of his son (rather than another Israeli, as she was told).  It definitely has some spooky moments as the soldier seems to lose control over her breathing and only can regain her breath when the Arab intervenes.  An interesting fable to be sure.

* Well, I did just do a quick check, and it looks like for white kids with asthma, they are generally mocked in movies.  I just vaguely remember from Malcolm in the Middle, the Black friend in the wheelchair who also had asthma, though there may also have been another friend with an inhaler.

I had thought that August Wilson tackled asthma in one of his plays, but that doesn't appear to be the case.  Spike Lee does touch on growing asthma rates in inner city neighborhoods in Red Hook Summer, though this is a movie that has sort of disappeared under the radar.  I certainly haven't seen it, though maybe I will try to look it up this summer.

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