“Veronica, come on, breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth,” Mom said soothingly, but her face betrayed her. She was panicking, and the fear in her eyes was so strong it was as if she had seen a ghost. In a way, she had, because that’s how I looked with my white face and frosty blue lips.
I tried to comply. I took a shallow breath that couldn’t have sustained a flea. The room was pale green, with a couple of health-related pictures. The sink faucet was leaking, every once in a while a drop of water would fall into the sink and make a faint dripping sound. The trash can was full to the brim, mostly with tissues. I don’t know why that made me feel sad. It’s strange, the things that come into your mind at the worst of times.
A nurse shuffled into the examination room, interrupting what few thoughts had crept into my head. I didn’t have the energy to lift my head to see what she looked like. The nurse rapidly started asking my mom questions and the next thing I knew, she was putting a weird thing on my finger. It beeped, then sent a signal through a wire to a little pad. The nurse wrote down the number.
“She’s hardly getting any oxygen, that’s why she’s so pale.” The nurse left, saying that she would bring an advanced nebulizer. Again, I was alone with my mom. I was so exhausted that all I could do was try to breathe. I was unsuccessful.
I’m not sure what my mom was doing, my head was hanging so low on my neck that I thought it might fall off. It was graveyard-silent, and I was beginning to think that I was going to stop breathing completely when the nurse bustled back in. Behind her, another nurse was pushing an enormous oxygen tank. At the bottom, there was a tiny table with a mask that looked like the ones at the doctor’s when they sedate you to take out your tonsils. Beside it was a box of gloves. Quickly putting the gloves on and taking the mask from the little table, the nurse strapped it onto my face. I frantically looked at my mom with what strength I had left.
Catching my glance, the nurse said, “Don’t worry, it’s going to help you breathe. Just breathe normally. It’s okay.”
I tried to relax, but I was still afraid. Why are they gassing me? I wondered. And that’s when I got freaked. I’m going to die. As soon as the thought entered my mind, I knew that I didn’t want to die, and I wasn’t going to go without a fight. And besides that, I hadn’t done my good deed yet, which in my book meant I would go to Hell.
I started to breathe. Not too well at first, but after a few minutes with the nebulizer, I was breathing enough to actually be considered a shaky breath. A little more than half an hour later, I had a slight flush in my cheeks. Two hours later, I was back home. I had to use my nebulizer for weeks.
But I’ll tell you, if you look in my purse, backpack and sports bag today, you’ll see an inhaler in all of them.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.