Toluca Gringa

8,700 feet does more than simply turn you into a cheap date

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When I say that I was sick for nearly two months, I don't think it's possible to really appreciate the magnitute of the statement. I wasn't bleeding out the eyeballs, but I really could barely breathe, which meant that I couldn't sleep. And since I live far away from anyone who could shower me with attention and saltine crackers, I'm subjecting all who reads this to my tale of woe. As with all asthmatics, it's a mack-truck-on-the-chest sort of feeling, this time compounded by bus exhaust and the evening steam from tamale carts. Talking was a chore and laughing was out of the question. I managed to go to a doctor here, doctor being a title which should be in quotation marks, but I don't want to be disrespectful because he was a nice guy. But, this nice guy felt the need to give me 13 different meds in a span of 3 weeks. In the beginning, I accepted his advice and swallowed about 5 pills a day out of sheer desperation. Then I decided I didn't want to end up like River Pheonix in the Viper Room, and I chunked it all in the garbage in hopes of strengthening my lungs through the power of mental persuasion.
My students had some amazing advice.
"The best cure for asthma is to drink your own pee," one said. "But, only in the morning."
Another told me to find a rare mouse (the kind that doesn't eat garbage, she said), drop the poor creature in a pot of boiling water, and drink the broth.
Over and over again I was told that my asthma was due to drinking cold liquid.
"Cold liquid? You mean, water?" I queried.
"Yes, water, juice, anything cold."
"But, what about that cold beer that you're drinking right now? Is it going to give you asthma?"
"Well, no. Beer's different."

Turns out cold liquid takes the rap for many health problems. One student told me that her aunt died from drinking cold water with lemon juice in the mornings. It gave her cancer, the doctor said.
Who am I to argue? I'm definitely not a doctor. But I'm also not into drinking my own urine.

In the end, I went to a doctor in the U.S. who gave me steroids so strong I could have won the Tour de France.

Now I'm back in Mexico, breathing like a champ. I'm considering the possibility that part of my asthma problems were from the fact that I didn't drink enough wine over the holidays. I've switched to room temperature red wine, just to be safe.

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