Well, I've decided that after 30 years of trying to be a normal guy and attending hunting camp every year I'm going to quit going. I hate to say it, but it's time to make this wise decision.
I started going when I was ten in 1980. And I think it was that year my asthma got so bad in the night my dad had to leave camp and drive me all the way home. It was a 45 minute drive that year. As I look back I think what a good dad I have.
That should have been a hint to me that hunting camp was not meant for this asthmatic. Yet I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like every other guy and hang out with the guys, around the cabin, around the fire, in the woods.
Yet I never had a normal hunting camp. On the best of years I've had the sniffles and sneezes. There's also the anxiety simply because I'm worried I'm going to run into trouble. And when I started drinking beer it only got worse, because alcohol not only makes asthma worse, it makes it so you make unwise decisions.
I remember one night I woke up in a full fledged asthma attack. Literally, I couldn't take half a breath. It was pitch black and the only light was from the coals where the fire was (the fire that contributed to my predicament). I couldn’t' find the truck. I couldn't find my nebulizer. I couldn't find the little brown bottle of Albuterol. It was a long miserable night with asthma.
I went home the next day thinking I better not go back to camp the next year. Yet the bug always hits me. Dad loves having his five sons at camp, and I don't want to disappoint him. So I go. I go and I have fun, until it happens again.
I even went when my asthma was bad. I remember being embarrassed taking breathing treatments while sitting on top a generator in the middle of the woods. I remember going through an entire inhaler just to make it through camp. Yes, this is your humble gallant asthmatic speaking.
It’s obviously not that bad every year. Although as an adult with better asthma medicines, my asthma is much better controlled these days. Plus I usually limit myself to one day at camp.
So I've had several good years at camp. Then last year occurred. We had this awesome fire. It was huge. The light from the fire lit up the forest, made it appear like day. We bantered around the fire until there was nothing left but coals. Oh, and to be honest, I did have a few beers.
Of course I was fine until I put my head on the pillow. That's when I realized I couldn’t breathe. I used my inhaler, but it was no use. I couldn't drive myself home because I had those few beers. No way was I going to risk that. I wasn't going to wake anyone either. Of course they were drinking too.
So I sat up in a chair all night, all frogged up, falling asleep a few times out of pure exhaustion. I couldn't help but thinking: "Man, I thought these days were done." It reminded me of all those miserable nights when I was a kid with hardluck asthma. It forced me to think: "Why do I do this to myself? Just to keep other people happy?"
Actually, I do it for myself too. Yet when the 41-year-old version of me saw the first glimpse of daylight, and his dad hopped out of bed, he said, "Dad, I've decided I love hanging out here at the cabin, but today is going to be my last day here. I'm retiring from hunting camp."
I hated to say it, I hated even to think it. And dad said he understood. My brothers understood too. Yet they still bug me about going out there. The question now is: Will I give into the temptation?
Ah, such a difficult task for us asthmatics staying away from things that are supposed to be normal, yet are hard on us. If you have a similar asthma story let us know in the comments below.
Published On: April 11, 2013