For the past eight years I’ve had asthma, the main symptom of which was frequent coughing. Several times a day the coughing would progress to a full-blown asthma attack with thick mucus building up in my throat and lungs.
My doctor sent me to a pulmonologist who measured my lung capacity and poked me with needles. He prescribed two kinds of inhalers, a steroidal nose spray, and an antihistamine. At his suggestion, I bought special covers for my mattress and pillow; I washed my sheets every week in hot water; I even replaced my wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors.
I was a good, obedient patient, doing everything he told me to do even though it didn’t seem to be helping. But hey! Maybe I would have been worse without it, and he didn’t seem to have any other workable ideas. (He’d already tried a scan of my sinuses and sent me to a gastroenterologist to see about GERD.)
On my own, I bought doctor-written books on asthma, changed my diet, did time-consuming breathing exercises. (Are you getting tired of all this? In case you’re already bored, I’ll jump now to the cure.)
One of the side effects of my asthma was dental problems. I spent a good portion of most days sucking on cough drops. I think you can imagine the effect all that sugar had on my teeth.
One day last month (only weeks after a previous dental appointment) I noticed a bad taste in my mouth. I traced it to an upper molar and quickly called for a new appointment.
The tooth already had a crown, but I thought the dentist might be able to put a little filling down at the edge of the crown. But no. The crown had to be cracked in two and taken out. Well then, I thought, maybe she could give me a new filling and a new crown. Sorry. No can do. Oh, dear! I thought in my usual understated way. Not a root canal!
Nope. Not even a root canal. The tooth had to go.
I’d never had a tooth pulled before. Well, as it turns out, you don’t really get a tooth pulled. They extract it. A specialist cuts into your gums and digs the tooth out. In my case, the tooth had three roots, each heading in a different direction.
It was a long procedure, done with an adequate amount of pain killer. Not long afterwards, though, the meds started wearing off and my mouth hurt. That afternoon, I was focused on the pain and the bleeding. I barely noticed that I wasn’t coughing. Strange! By the next day, I still wasn’t coughing. Stranger still.
So … how did that happen? Like I said, it was a mysterious cure. Although I do remember reading in one of my asthma books that a low-grade, chronic infection could trigger the immune system to overreact and result in asthma. That must be what happened. I told the dentist who did the extraction, and he said, “Hmm. Might have been a necrotic nerve.” The thing is, whatever it was, it didn’t show up on an x-ray.
Since my “miraculous cure”, many things have changed for me. When I had asthma, laughing made me cough; singing or talking for more than a few minutes made me cough. Lying on my back, eating spicy foods or drinking a cold drink, sitting still too long and exercising made me cough.
As you might imagine, it was hard to be sociable when I couldn’t laugh or engages in a conversation without interrupting it with my coughing. Now I’m feeling more friendly.
Last night my daughter and I watched Spy with Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law. It was hilarious. I laughed until I cried.
I hadn’t done that in a very long time.