Tag Archives: asthma

Godzilla Gets Me Out To The Movies

I used to go to the movies all the time. As I’ve gotten older however, I find myself going less and less. For one thing I have less time and for another the prices are a little high in my mind. In the last three or four years I have only seen about five movies in the theater. I saw Avatar and Alice In Wonderland in 2010, The Avengers in 2012, This Is The End in 2013, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year. I’ve wanted to see numerous films during that time, but those were the only ones I actually got up and went out to see.

Tonight I decided to treat myself to Godzilla. I loved Godzilla as a child, and I passed that love on to my son who has taken it to new heights. He went opening weekend to catch the new Godzilla. I went two weeks later. I had initially planned to go see A Million Ways To Die In The West, but tonight was the last night for Godzilla in 3D, so the big lizard won out.

I took the family to the premiere of the 1998 Godzilla. In fact we got there early enough to catch Quest For Camelot first. When Godzilla 2000 hit, I took my son. This time I went alone. And I would have been alone in the theater as well were it not for one other couple that decided to take in Godzilla at the last minute. They arrived loudly during the previews and stayed loud throughout. They must have thought they were at home in their living room because they weren’t whispering. They were speaking in regular conversation voices. They were also smoking as well. In the course of the 2 hour movie they lit up at least twice as the smell drifted down to me and irritated my asthma and COPD.

But what about the actual movie? I guess Internet protocol states that I have to warn you there are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen Godzilla and don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. This is meant to be a more serious take on Godzilla. It is not as campy as the ones from my childhood and there is no humor in it. Another thing this Bryan Cranston starring Godzilla film was incredibly light on was Bryan Cranston and Godzilla. Cranston’s character is killed off in the first third of the movie and Godzilla doesn’t really surface until the final third. We get lots of the guy from Kick Ass, who doesn’t show much range of emotion. His whole story is trying to get home from Japan to his wife and son in San Francisco. He’s spent his whole life thinking his dad was a crackpot and when he learns his dad was right all along and the military has been covering things up, his reaction is essentially to shrug his shoulders and carry on. Elizabeth Olsen as his wife on the other hand seems to be constantly on the verge of tears. Tears of joy that her husband is back, tears of frustration because something happened in Japan and she can’t reach him to check on him, tears of desperation because in the midst of a giant monster slugfest her husband who is working with the military on an atomic bomb hasn’t managed to check in or arrive at their designated meeting point. And speaking of meeting points. Kick Ass finds out that the military is going to use a nuclear bomb off the coast of San Francisco to try and kill some giant monsters that eat radioactive material and tend to destroy any city they get close to. When he talks to his wife in San Francisco does he tell her to take their son and get the hell out of town? Go visit the biggest ball of twine up in the Northeast? No. He tells her to wait there at the hospital for him. The hospital in San Francisco right in the path of the monsters and near the possible nuclear bomb detonation point because nothing could possibly go wrong with a plan that involves nuclear weapons and giant freaking monsters. That’s like telling someone to go hide in the ocean because Jaws is coming. Think I’ll take my chances in the top of a skyscraper unless the weatherman is calling for sharknados.

The other major cast members include Ken Watanabe, who has mastered the art of staring out in the distance with a sorrowful concerned look, David Strathairn as an admiral that really doesn’t do a whole lot, and Sally Hawkins as Watanabe’s research partner. Hawkins is also under-utilized. In fact her role could have easily been combined with Watanabe’s if he didn’t need someone to stay focused on the here and now while he takes those long soulful stares out beyond the horizon.

As for the titular star, Godzilla, he looks better than ever except he’s put on a little weight. Actually it appears to be a larger chest area, so maybe he was working out and abusing steroids instead of gaining weight. It’s a long way away from the super sleek iguana of the ’98 version. The new monsters, a male and female MUTO looked much better than I expected. The toys made them look like an M shaped beastie with a claw on each long leg. They are much neater than that. They are nowhere near as messed up looking as Megalon or Gigan, but a little more dynamic than Rodan or Mothra.

I can’t say that I loved the movie. It’s not my favorite Godzilla movie by a long shot. It’s probably about number 4 or 5 out of the other five films I mentioned at the top. Definitely over Alice In Wonderland. Probably over This Is The End. Possibly over Avatar.

I Ain’t No Spring Chicken

Last week I had an experience that if I had any doubts left solidified the fact that I’m getting older. I had my first heart catheterization. It started with me being short of breath on Saturday. I called work to let them know I wouldn’t be in. It’s hard to perform the work they expect when you can’t breathe. I puttered around the house and woke up Sunday morning feeling even worse. Still couldn’t breathe and it felt like someone had pulled a weight belt across my chest and was tightening it while concrete was poured into my lungs. This prompted another call to work.

My wife hooked up the nebulizer so I could take a breathing treatment before bed time. When I got up Monday morning I felt better, so off to work I went. Only one problem; the more I moved around the harder it got for me to breathe. By two hours into my shift the tightness was back in my chest. By four hours in, it was accompanied with chest pain on the right side and in the center. I had doubts I was going to be able to finish the shift. Six hours in I was valiantly trying to wait until everything was in and processed before I told them I was going to have to leave. I’m stubborn like that. I hate to leave a job unfinished.

Finally seven and a half hours in that job was done. I found my supervisor to tell him I was going to leave, but he didn’t understand why I couldn’t wait another thirty minutes until my shift was over, so I started helping with some manual processing. Within fifteen minutes he had changed his mind. I don’t know if he saw how hard it was for me to breathe, realized the pain I was in, or envisioned the liability that he and the plant might be in should I die on the work floor after requesting to leave, but he finally told me to go on home. I left before someone changed their mind and headed home to get the wife and probably head for the ER.

When I got home the wife was asleep. I woke her up and told her what was going on. We ended up deciding to wait until morning and see if I could get in to see my doctor. We went to sleep and the next morning she got me an appointment for 10:30 AM. The doctor took me back and after a very brief examination sent me directly to the emergency room. The ER team ran a few tests and a few hours later I was told I was being admitted to the hospital and they would be performing a heart cath on me on Wednesday. Several hours later, they finally got me in a room and told me my procedure would be at 8:30 AM.

The next morning I was whisked down to the heart cath lab and after numerous delays was finally taken back to the operating room. To make a long story short, they did find some blockages, but nothing serious enough to prompt surgery or even stints… yet. The general feeling is that the chest pain I was experiencing was a combination of my asthma, COPD, and damage caused by my diabetes and neuropathy. I was out of commission for a few more days and returned to work on Sunday.

With me out of commission, my son borrowed my car and put his in the garage to have some repair work performed. As payback for letting him use my car, he and my daughter loaded up all the rest of my toy collection from the old house and brought it over to the new house. If my breathing doesn’t get any better, he and the other kids will all need to finish doing the rest of the moving as well. There was a time when I could have done it all myself, but that time has long passed. As I have heard so many people tell me through the years when I was younger and more active, I ain’t no spring chicken anymore.

Why Do I Have To Be The Strong One?

One of the things I miss about childhood is knowing that no matter what happened, my mom would take care of me. If I needed money for something she would always find it. I never really knew how bad or how tight finances were because Mom spoke mostly in vague and generic terms. Now I’m the adult. I have two grown kids and a wife. The daughter is 19, but while technically grown-up, has never had to deal with the grown-up world on a true one on one basis. She has had her own problems that she has had to deal with (after deciding that she was all grown up at 18), but Mom and Dad have always been there to catch her when she faltered.

When my daughter moved out (okay, ran off) in mid September of 2011 to go live with her then boyfriend and his parents, she learned that things weren’t as bad at home as she thought they were. Apparently we were horrible monsters because we did things like make her do her homework, go to school, clean her room, wash the dishes, and take care of the pets. Six months later she was 5 months pregnant and pretty much begging to come home. We took her back with open arms, but at the same time the wife and I had finally found the perfect comfort level. We had all the bills under control. We enjoyed each other’s company. Now we had another mouth to feed and another person to add back into our personal dynamic. It was hard, but we managed.

A month after this happened I found out that I was losing my job. I was given two years to find another spot to land in the company or be unemployed. At 47 I did not need to be unemployed, so I took a much more physical job than the one I had. The other option was to try and get a job with more stress or one that would likely be abolished in a future round of budget cuts. My schedule changed, but I assured everyone that we would be okay. I would actually end up making more money per paycheck.

In July my granddaughter was born. I love her dearly, but I was also faced with another human being that ultimately I would end up being responsible for taking care of. My daughter would look after her and my wife would make sure she was fed and clothed and clean (tasks my daughter still has difficulty with performing for herself), but I would have to work to pay for her food and her clothes. My daughter originally planned to breast feed exclusively. That soon changed to occasionally and was eventually supplanted entirely by bottles of formula. Formula is not cheap.

Her husband (they were married in March, but he is still only 17) moved in around October and we also started moving around that time. They lived in the old house while we lived in the new house, and I paid for the utilities on both houses. In December my son and his wife moved into the old house and my daughter and her family moved in to our new house. It’s a long complicated game of musical houses, don’t ask.

So around this time we’re trying to move, trying to get set up for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and keep everything going when my paycheck gets screwed up. In my old position I was responsible for making sure all the employees in my unit got paid. In the new position I have to hope that the supervisors remember to put in things like paid leave. Needless to say, one of them didn’t.

My health also decided to start really giving me problems. My blood sugar would spike or would bottom out and my asthma became more debilitating than it had been in years because I was getting into so much dust, and dirt, and pet odors during the move all while exerting myself physically and then headed to work where I would perform even more physical lifting and loading.

Here we are now in February and I am still trying to recover financially from two screwed up checks, holiday expenses, and feeding a family of five. Today my blood sugar spiked high. I was shaking. I couldn’t function and had to call off from work. I ended up sitting in a recliner and sleeping most of the day. When I was awake, I was silently fighting the urge to break down and cry. I know my life isn’t nearly as bad as so many other people’s. I know we will eventually get things straightened out. I know we will eventually get moved, get the kids into their own place, and get a quiet and restful home life, but right now all I can think about is why do I have to be the strong one? Why do I have to put on the brave face and not let anyone know how bad I’m hurting? How did Mom handle things like this and make it look so easy?

You Leave Me Breathless

I am an asthmatic. I have been my whole life. While other kids were learning to ride bicycles, I was learning to live without breathing. As a small child I spent many a night in the hospital inside an oxygen tent. It never really scared me, and even the severe asthma attacks themselves never truly scared me. I guess for all I knew this was just something everyone went through.

For those of you that have never had an asthma attack before, let me try to give you a bit of perspective on it. Take a deep breath and hold it. When it becomes uncomfortable check how long you’ve held your breath and then let it out. Now exhale completely and prepare to take another deep breath only this time don’t actually take that deep breath, or a shallow one even. Now hold that little bit of air that you didn’t manage to exhale out of your body for the same length of time you held the deep breath. When it’s time, take a quick short gasp of air and hold that. That is about the closest way I know to describe what it feels like when you cannot get your lungs to accept enough oxygen. You can go back to breathing normally now.

The feeling of not breathing is usually accompanied by a pain in the chest as well. The lungs fight and gasp for air which hurts, but it also causes the heart to start beating faster which can then add to the chest discomfort. As I said, I’ve dealt with it for so many years that I hardly give it a second thought. When I notice that I am having breathing difficulty, I will usually use my rescue inhaler. If it gets really bad, I have a nebulizer with albuterol that I can inhale to open my breathing passages. If that fails, then it’s get me to the hospital… fast.

Over the years I have wondered how much damage to my memories the lack of sufficient oxygen might have caused. I used to have an amazing memory for facts and figures and trivia (other than dates, I was never good with dates). These days I live most of my life by rote actions. I place things back where they are supposed to be and I follow a repetitive routine. If I diverge from my routine, I will forget something every time.

Who the hell am I anyway?

In just a few short months, I will be 49 years old. This means that most likely over my half of my life is gone. I look back at the days of my youth and think about the way things used to be. Then I look around at today and think when did the world pass me by. I tried to start a Twitter account and couldn’t think of anything worth tweeting. I think about doing a You Tube video, and realize that I have no idea how to post one. On the other hand a blog is writing. That seems to be something I can handle. In fact I have done it before for a little over a year.

A couple of years back I decided to watch a DVD a day and write a blog reviewing the discs that I watched. I did it and after the year was up, I was too tired to go on. I won’t be attempting that here, but I thought that it might be fun to write about my life without being confined to the small amount of text that Twitter or Facebook allows. If I feel like writing a diatribe that rambles on for multiple paragraphs, a blog can handle that. If I want to post a short thought, a blog can handle that as well.

At the time of this writing it is 3 AM. I took off from work today because my asthma flared up. I work six days a week and I live about 45 minutes from my job. A normal day has me away from home for nearly 10 hours. I also sleep. I find that at my age I need and I want my full eight hours of sleep. That takes care of 18 hours in a day leaving only 6 hours available for other things. Now I should also mention that my wife and I have been trying to move since October.

My wife’s parents bought a new house and gave us their old place. In turn we gave our old place to our son and his wife. When we first moved in, we had to clear out all of the stuff my in-laws left behind because they no longer wanted it. This took longer than you would suspect since everything had to be looked over first to decide if they might have left it by accident or if it was something my wife wanted to keep. Once the house was cleared, we decided to paint. It is very hard to paint with only 6 hours available to you and several of those hours happen to be when everyone else is sound asleep. Then there’s also the problem with the paint fumes triggering an asthma attack.

We gave up on painting and just decided to move. Of course when we started pulling out boxes and taking items down off of shelves where they had happily set for a decade or so, that stirred up a lot of dust which also triggered more asthma attacks. It became this weird situation where I would try to pack and move stuff before work, only to trigger an asthma attack that kept me from going to work after all. Of course it also meant that I couldn’t do much more moving as I needed to start using my nebulizer and fighting the asthma.

Three months and three major holidays later and we have moved most of the stuff from our bedroom, the kitchen, the bath and the living room. I have also managed to move my DVD and CD collection and the majority of my comic collection. We still have an entire library of books and an attic full of toys to go. And of course there are always the straggler pieces that pop up as well. Maybe it’s a box of the wife’s yarn that was hidden behind something or a wall hanging in the bathroom that I keep forgetting to take down. I have been asking for time off to try and finish the move, but this has fallen on deaf ears, so I am stuck in the loop of trying to move as much as I can before work without inhaling enough dust, dirt and pet hair to send my lungs into shock and forcing me to call off.

At least today’s power move was worth the trauma to the lungs. I cleared out a section of the attic that I thought only contained old receipts. Turned out it also contained a box of childhood memories including my first scrapbook. This was a large notebook with a 1970’s astrological sun design filled with old movie theater ads and lids from Aurora model kits. There was a Burger Chef window sticker of a Picklepotamus in there as well. The box also held a near complete run of The Bicentennial Times. The funny thing is, I thought most of this stuff was lost during a previous move.