Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Asthma



I come to in the middle of the night
and I don’t dare move – it’s not out of fear
but I know something is wrong.  I feel
as if someone has duct taped my mouth
shut leaving only a little pin-hole, the
size I once made a box camera out of
as a boy, to breathe through.

I sit up on the edge of the bed and panic,
real panic sets in.  My mind races with
what’s going on.  I’m suffocating.  I feel
as if I am in a dark theater looking at
a wide, very bright picture of an empty
beach.  There must be music, but panic
drowns out any sound.

My Thai wife has taken to sleeping in
her shop with her diabetic mother who
is not well.  I want to run away from
this panic, run to her for help.  I stand to
flee, but after two steps I sit back down
on the bed.  Any physical exertion only
makes the attack worse.  Asthma is something
the patient has to deal with alone, by himself.

I try and drink expectorant from a small
bottle the size Alice drank from to make
herself tall.  I sip, but swallowing is all
but impossible.  My eyes dart downcast
from side to side.  I am in real trouble.
I know that.  The stuff is from China,
probably home made, but it has worked
before.

Finally, I’m able to swallow half a teaspoon
of “the drug for cough.”  I slam the bottle down
as if it were a knife and reach for my inhaler
as if it were a gun and needed because it
was more lethal.

I have to time the puff to my very shallow
breathing.  I nod my head to keep time with
my breathe, but the first puff only hits
the back of my throat.  Three more tries and
I think the albuterol must be hitting the top
of my lungs.  I slam the inhaler down and
pick up “the drug for cough again.”

Finally, I can rasp up phlegm.  It sounds rough
like waves crashing on rocks  Again, again.
I feel better and for no reason get up and
walk in the dark house.  When my son was
three we went to Canada for a week.  When
we got back in the middle of the night he ran
around and touched things he remembered.
My stalking around is like that.  I have no
other purpose.

I sit at my computer in the dark bedroom.
I’m better, but have no desire to turn the
machine on.  I’m still shaky.  In twenty  
minutes my breathing is almost normal.

My wheezing is gone except for a small,
distant unexpected sound when I exhale.
Before lying down again, I recognize the
sound,  It’s a gull, riding waves of unseen
air, out over the dark ocean.

FG       8/4/2016


Asthma attacks can be frightening.  I think it is the rainy season weather that has brought my current attacks on.  But simple fear of not having expectorant and my rescue inhaler nearby when I go to bed can bring on an attack by itself.  As much as I like Thailand, it has to be one of the worst places for people with asthma and COPD.

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