My husband, Louie, died with asthma. Until his death I’d never heard of any one dying with asthma. It was just a breathing problem for hypochondriacs a socially acceptable complaint with no actual danger. It wasn’t a ‘real’ problem. Not until I saw that Louie quite frankly couldn’t breathe did the whole picture became real to me. We saw doctors and went to hospitals and had a drawer full of meds and inhalers. To bring him some alleviation, I sat up nights and rubbed his back and learned to use positional therapy from the therapist.
There was a lot of heartache involved in his illness and dying because many people including our pastor who made several pointed statements about people malingering, persisted in thinking he was just using his asthma as an excuse to avoid work and elicit sympathy. Although he was hurt by the attitudes, Louie was much more patient about it than I was.
In August of 1980 there was a small fire in our church building on Saturday. When we went to service Sunday morning there was a lingering smell of smoke in the building. By halfway through morning service Louie was having trouble breathing. He finally had to leave. The residual smoke had triggered a major attack.
In spite of meds, inhalers and positional therapy, his breathing did not improve. I finally had to take him to the emergency room. He never came home.
I don’t have the words to describe the shock. Or the desolation. He was not quite thirty four years old.