Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Well, my trip hasn't been too eventful so far. I'm sitting at a Borders in the shopping complex where the Capital Center used to be, taking advantage of Starbucks network. And I'm slowly becoming able to breathe without feeling like a lead block is on my chest. You see, my asthma acts up at my parents' house. There are molds somewhere - in the walls, probably -- that set me off like nothing else. It's funny. The asthma I'm having here in Maryland is different from the sort I experience in Tucson. And neither resembles the asthma that plagued me from time to time in California.

"Asthma" is one of those words like "cancer" that actually encompasses a wide variety of problems. Wait, don't most words function that way? Yes, I suppose they do. But we have an expectation that terms used in a specific context, such as medicine, will be more closely tied to their referents. Anyway, each form of asthma I get -- none of which are that severe, I might add -- has its own special qualities. The kind I've been suffering over the past twelve hours is my least favorite. It's hard to describe. It affects my stomach strongly. And I lose the ability to think without panicking.

I realize that the claustrophobia of being in my family home -- everyone has that experience when they return, right? -- surely makes the asthma worse than it would be in neutral location. Nevertheless, the physiological effects take precedence. I had the same problems during our last visit in 2003. Because I hadn't been back in a few years, I realized things that I had previously suppressed. This time that sensation is exponentially greater. And the more I think about my years living in that house -- 1979 to 1986 -- the more I suspect that the mold was there when we moved in. The symptoms I have now, which seem so extreme, actually match up with my memories of being a teenager. I mean, obviously there were other reasons why I was restless back then. But the sense of not being able to breathe right, the panic that made me unable to concentrate -- they could have been environmentally induced.

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