Mason County News
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Mostly Memories
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 • Posted March 25, 2009

A Life Saving Machine

Back in October of 2007 I wrote an article telling how the elderly can have a full and rewarding life provided they have moderate health, a few good friends, a good neighbor on either side and a good horse to ride.

However, in this article I failed to give credit to the instrument that makes all this possible for me—it is a very small machine called a Nebulizer. Although a wonderful little machine it is only the “delivery boy” so to speak for the medication that keeps me breathing.

For those not familiar with a Nebulizer it is an instrument that turns a liquid medication into a mist that can be breathed into the lungs of persons with asthma and other lung disorders. I have had emphysema for over twenty years and although I know very little about this disease I do understand that my 67 years of smoking has destroyed many of the air sacs in my lungs thereby making my breathing very difficult until relieved by medication.

At this point we come to the medicine that is put into the Nebulizer and turned into a mist that can be breathed into the lungs to make breathing less difficult. To me the two different kinds of this medicine that I mix together work so effectively that I refer to them as “magic” and I say to them as I start a treatment “Do your magic” and that is exactly what they do.

I can be so tired before a treatment that it wears me out to walk across a room. Before I learned to take a treatment prior to bathing each morning I could hardly dry myself and put on my underwear before falling in an exhausted state on the bed where my wife would have to put my socks on for me because I was unable to bend over. Now I take the treatment before I bathe and it puts strength back into my body, I can dress myself with ease and in a short time I am ready to put the saddle on my electric pony and go to work in the yard. Thus you can see why I call this medication “magic.”

While discussing the nebulizer with a friend who also has emphysema we agreed that without this marvelous little machine we would not be alive today. In saying this I think back to some 30 or more years ago when my wife and I visited an uncle who was in the old Brady Hospital dying of emphysema. I shudder when remembering how terrible it was sit there and listen to that poor man trying to get some air into his lungs, to hear the terrible noises he made while gasping for breath and at the same time perhaps praying for the blessing of a death that would release him from his suffering.

It did not occur to me then that because of my smoking I was heading toward that same ending. But now quite often as I become short of breath and start gasping for breath and hear myself making those same sounds that my old uncle made as he lay dying and I shudder at the thought of what lies ahead, but I wonder too how much longer he might have lived had the nebulizer been available to him. At that time there was medication available for this disease in the form of Aerosol inhalers but they could not get that mist into the lungs the way a nebulizer does.

It has been said that at present there is no cure for this disease and even though you might own the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow you are going to die just like the poor folk do, and this must be true because Johnny Carson had worlds of money that did him no good whatsoever.

Knowing what lies ahead I can only hope that by the time my time comes they will have developed something that will take the agony out of the suffering that my uncle went through. And, while the thoughts of the future may make me shudder now and then I will say that as long as that nebulizer does its work and the medication continues to perform it’s magic I will hopefully be blessed by enjoying these last years of my life and for this I will say “Thank you Lord.”

In spite of the problems I have with walking, breathing and early morning pain I still feel that I am in moderate health mainly because of all the work I can do around the house and the fact that I still enjoy playing dominoes for a couple of hours five or six days a week. Then too it makes me feel good to see myself as foreman of my one acre ranch at 1300 Wall Street riding the range on my electric pony and thinking that it stands to reason for my wife to be ramrod at the ranch house but I keep a-telling her that it just ain’t right for a woman to be the overall boss of a big spread like this one.

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FOOTNOTE:

One morning at coffee I told our oldest member Frank Lohn, who was 97, that I had just received an optimistic indication from my dermatologist that I might outlive him by many years.

“What made him think you might live so long?” I was asked.

“Well, I know how he figured it and I sure hope he is right” I said. Then I told them the following story:

On a visit I made to him in 1981 he gave me a prescription for a cream to treat skin growths caused by exposure to sunlight. “Rub just a tad on the skin growths for 14 days and then discontinue using it” said the doctor. By following his instructions and practicing that old saying “a little dab will do you” that tube of cream lasted 14 years.

The other day after becoming concerned over a sore spot on my ear I visited this doctor again. Before he looked at my ear I told him that the cream he had prescribed 14 years ago had finally been used up. After looking at the “damned spot” on my ear he said what I needed was more of that cream “It will do everything that I could do for you.”

So, as he starts writing the prescription he asked my age — “I’ll be 84 this month” I told him.

“Well now” he said, “that other tube lasted 14 years so 84 plus 14 is 98 - so I tell you what I am going to do - I will make this out for one refill - that should take care of most of your old age.”

So I said to Frank -”Now I’m all set to live through the year 2012. Just how long to you plan to live?.”

“Well” said Frank, “I just got a new drivers license and they told me that I would not have to get another one until 2020.”

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