Saturday, December 7, 2013

When Vision Goes Black: My Nightmare of a Thursday Night. & Parents: I need some advice please!!

A.K.A. Does the universe hate me? With finals and my breathing troubles, I've been really struggling lately. My incredible friends are the only ones keeping me sane at this point!

Also: I need some advice. The following story is kind of intense and although I eventually told my mom what happened when she pressed me about my cough, I left out major details. When my dad called earlier that evening because I hadn't responded to his messages, I told him that I was totally fine and didn't mention that I had to use my rescue inhaler an hour before. I'm struggling with how much I should tell my parents about this. I feel so guilty that I've put them through so much medically, and I feel like they deserve a break from my medical burdens. I know that if I told them the whole story, they would jump in the car and come get me, and it would consume all of their thoughts. I think it will get better on its own so I'm thinking I'd like to keep this to myself to spare them the worry. I hate being the one that everyone worries about all the time. Hate it. On the other hand, it's kind of unsettling to be keeping things from my parents; I didn't lie to them about what happened, but I omitted the scarier details, so although my parents know everything about what happened two weeks ago, they only know the bare minimum about the other day; my mom just thinks that I have a mild cough now. Anyone have some advice here? Should I tell them everything, or is it okay to sugarcoat the situation a little for the sake of their feelings and sanity?

Anyway, here's what happened. I'd really appreciate if you'd leave a comment with some advice if you have some. :) (Whether you're a parent or not! I'm just trying to put myself in my parents' shoes and decide what would be best for them...)


My cough was getting better since my trip to the ER two weeks ago, but then on Tuesday I accidentally inhaled some smoke because a group of people were smoking while I was on my way to class, and everything got worse again.

Thursday evening during dinner, I was coughing so hard that I lost feeling in my hands and my face. My inhaler got my breathing under control and I was completely fine for a few hours.

And then at 11:00, someone decided to throw a party. In the hallway.

That's when I started having trouble breathing again. I opened the door a crack and realized that they had sprayed perfume EVERYWHERE, and that some of it had made its way into my room and was exacerbating my breathing problems.

I shut the door immediately and sent a panicked text message to one of my friends.

"What do I do?!"

Leaving would require me to walk through the hallway full of perfume...but even with my inhaler and a window open, the perfume was making its way into my room.

My cough kept getting worse, so we decided that the best option would be for me to hold my breath and try to leave.

My friend arrived at my door and together we made our way through the hallway, but about halfway through I couldn't hold my breath anymore. Immediately after I inhaled, my cough got worse, and I couldn't get a good breath.

It seemed like we were in that hallway foreverrr, but finally we made it to a spot outside my dorm with clean air. By that point, I had lost all feeling in my hands, and I couldn't breathe out enough to effectively use my inhaler.

My friend called campus safety for help, and as we were waiting for them to arrive, I began to lose my hearing and my vision, I could no longer feel my legs and feet, and my hands clenched and completely stopped working; no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get them to move.

I was so scared...shaking, gasping for breath, barely able to see or hear and unable to use my hands. I felt completely and utterly powerless.

According to my friend, some of the people from the party saw me struggling to breathe and they laughed. They laughed, and amidst their laughter they asked if I was having a panic attack and then left. 

I don't understand what kind of person laughs when someone is having trouble breathing.

"It took every ounce of my self-control to restrain myself from decking them in the face," my friend said later.

Vaguely I heard a voice next to me, someone I recognized, telling me that it was going to be okay...Then the campus safety officers arrived along with an EMT, and I think they were asking me questions but I couldn't make out the words. I remember insisting that I didn't want to go to the hospital, didn't want to go through that again. The whole world seemed still at this point...I think the whole situation only lasted maybe twenty minutes to a half hour, but it felt like days...

And then my breathing began to come more easily again...with deep, shuddering breaths, my vision began to focus again and my hearing was coming back. It took a while before I could move my hands again and about a half hour before I regained full feeling in my arms and legs, but in the meantime, the oxygen felt amazing as it filled my lungs with each grateful breath.

The room spun for a while, and I felt as though the bench I was sitting on was moving...apparently this was a side-effect of the oxygen deprivation, as was my pounding headache.

By the time I got back to my room, it was 1am, and I was shaky and wide awake because of the medicine from my inhaler. When I finally fell asleep at 2:30am, I closed my eyes and took a moment to be thankful: thankful that I could breathe again, thankful that this nightmare was over.

Since then, I've still been having some trouble, but it hasn't been nearly as bad as Thursday night.

Again, if anyone has any advice, I'd really appreciate it if you'd comment! I feel really bad that I've put my parents through so much already in life...but is it irresponsible of me not to tell them the full story?


  1. Dear K,
    I have four kids ages 5 (she has CP and other issues) up to 14 years. I know that as a parent I would really want to know the whole story. I would be sad if parts were kept out and that would only lead to more worrying in the future. They are there to love, care and even worry about you. If I was in their shoes, I think I would be grateful to know the whole story without any parts left out. Honesty is a huge part of parenting kids, especially as they get older and although you didn't outright "lie" to them I think that being totally truthful is a good idea. You say that you've put them through a lot with your medical issues but that's what we have grown used to. I will never stop worrying about my littlest. Ever. She will always be on the forefront of my mind through all her physical, mental and emotional stages.

    I know you'll do what you think is best, but I thought I'd offer my two bits.


  2. I have breathing issues myself, so I really empathize with you! Advice? Two main things:

    1. If at all possible, get some good medical advice / explanation of your condition ... especially the breathing stuff ... from someone YOU trust. That may be a doctor or specialist you already have, or maybe someone new that you identify yourself. What I'm getting at is that oftentimes people like us grow to mistrust or not listen to medical people we sort of inherit from our parents' choices. College is a time when you may have the opportunity, if you want it, to get a sort of "second opinion" you can evaluate on your own. You might get new information, and even if you don't, you might begin to build a good relationship with doctors on your own terms.

    2. How much to tell you parents depends on a lot of things. Mostly on your knowledge of them. If they are pretty tough and pragmatic, you can and should probably tell them everything. If they are highly emotional, even irrational about stuff like this, I don't think it's wrong for you to protect them ... just a little. Don't leave anything crucial out, but summarize. This is even more reasonable if you ALSO have a good independent relationship with doctors. That way you're not depending entirely on your parents to oversee your care, so the only consideration is their feelings and your ability to cope with them.

    I've been out of college for almost 25 years, but the situations you describe are still familiar to me. I hope all goes well.

  3. Parenthood includes worry almost as surely as it includes unconditional love. I say tell them.

  4. Kerry,
    Ah, friend. I'm so so sorry that this is going on with you. While I can't relate to the specifics of your breathing issues, I'm severely allergic to many things and have had similar reactions...although not as severe. Sigh and hugs. While I totally get not wanting your parents to worry (my dad does not know that I broke my hand and I am old enough to be your mom), I personally think you should tell your mom. There's obviously something more going on here (maybe allergies of the severe type), but I feel - as a parent and as a daughter - that you need to be further checked. I swear to you with all that I am that as a mom, there is NO burden when it comes to helping our kids. We do not cry for us. We just want you to be the best and happiest you can. With that said, if you think your parents are going to be whatever about it, PLEASE still schedule some doctor's visits on your own. But truly...a parent would take 1,001 bullets for her kid. I would want to know if you were my daughter. I want to know even though you're not.
    My feelings would be hurt if Tucker didn't tell me something like this. Let me know if you want to talk on the phone. And hugs...

    1. Just came back to see whether you'd had any thoughts. Email me if you want to talk more, or text, etc. HUGS

  5. I agree with all of the replies above. As a parent of two grown children in their twenties (one with Autism and one who recently graduated from college and lived in a dorm for two years), and also as a special ed and disability rights advocate I would encourage you to talk with your college's administration about a possible ADA violation re the excess of perfume in the hall (where was the resident advisor?) and how it severely impacted your ability to breathe, etc and consequently impacted your ability to attend to your studies. You are an incredible writer and an incredible human being! You can bring an awareness to your campus about how important it is to respect the right of everyone to obtain an education and participate wholly in their community - including being safe living in their dorm. Your health and safety is number one.

  6. Definitely tell your parents. I'm a mom, and I would want to know. Now how specific you are, that's up to you. You know your parents best. My heart would ache if I found out about something like this years later. Having kids is not just about the hugs and kisses, it's the whole package, good and bad.

  7. Yes, tell your parents!!! I love that you are so independent but they need to know.

  8. Oh sweet girl. I completely understand you not wanting to burden your folks with more worries.


    Imagine this.

    Some well-meaning friend or relation somehow, one day, sends them the link to these posts, and they find out in terrifying detail what you went through, and how you kept them out of it...

    You have to tell them. And you can break it to them gently and reassure them that you're fine. If you want to, talk to the campus staff and get some measures in place to try to ensure that things like this can't happen again. Because really they shouldn't be allowed. Your health should NOT be endangered in that way because someone wants a party in the hall.

    But don't let your folks find out the hard way - without you telling them. It would break their hearts.

    And if they want to come out to you, which they might, and which they have the right to do, just remember - it's not you being a burden. It's for THEM. So that THEY can check, tangibly, by touch, that you're okay.

    I know I can't quite 'get' the 'parent angle' on this (because you know...) but I absolutely buy into the 'Mama Bear' analogy. It's all, all from love that they do this. Please let them know...

  9. K you need to tell them. I know my parents hate it when my sisters do explain what is going on. They r there to help u and love u. Hope u feel better soon. Me I am an open book which is hard sometimes but when It comes to my parents I think its a bonus because it makes their job easier.

  10. Call your freaking parents! Like now.

    Here's the thing, friend. Let' say Campus EMT took you to the hospital and you were admitted. Scarier still lets say you were admitted. I think your parents are going to be sad, worried and hurt that you didn't trust them.

    I get the guilt. But think it is also you want to be a grown up and handle things on your own. Which I get. We (moms) have all been there. That struggle of standing on our own versus leaning on our parents.

    I'm 40+ and in excellent health If I didn't share something with my mom she would be hurt that I didn't trust her to deal.

    I am totally mucking this up. Because I get why you don't want to tell them. But maybe they can help you find out the reason why you are having such difficulty breathing.

    It's not like you legs. If you cannot walk today because of strain, weather, pain you know what to do. You (and your parents) have been dealing with CP your whole life. But breathing or NOT breathing? That is scary stuff that you shouldn't go through without your parents support.

    It's okay, K. To lean. To be a kid. To know that you cannot do it on your own.

    But here's the thing. You are no supposed to go it alone. That's what family is about.

    Again totally mucked this up....

  11. Please tell them. As a relatively new mom (parents of twin two year olds), I know that I would want my children to tell me if they were hurting. I ache when my children ache, but they are not the cause of my pain. Their pain is the cause of my pain. However, not knowing about their pain would cause me even more pain if I were to find out about it from someone else or at a later date. (Not sure if that makes sense in the written word, but it makes sense in my head...truly, it does.) If at all possible, I want to help them because I love them.

  12. Oh Kerry , I am so sorry to hear this xx I would tell your parents as you are their child and no matter how much you might worry them they deserve to be able to support you xxxxxx

  13. Kerry, Please tell your parents! As the mom of almost 19yr old twins who happen to have CP, I can speak from experience here!! I've been through countless surgeries and hospitalizations with my kids and they are both away at college this year. I would be crazy if I found out something like this was going on with one of them. YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN, NOR IS YOUR MEDICAL CONDITION! As a parent, you hurt for your child and yes, you do feel exhausted at times--but never do you feel your child or the surgery is a burden. Your breathing problems are becoming scary - for you and those around you. It is time to bring in the parents. You need the help of a specialist and your parents will want to be with you. I know you would like to spare them, but it is serious enough that you should let them know what is happening. Please call!!

  14. I agree with others on here. Tell them. They are your parents and I know if either of my kiddos did not tell me something like that I would very hurt and mad. There is never anything wrong with needing some help ever, no matter who you are. I really hope you feel better soon.

  15. (sorry to put this here, but I can't figure out how else to contact you, but I wanted to include you here -

  16. I'll just chime in here with all the other parents - tell them. Even if your mom just thinks you have a mild cough right now, trust me as a mom she's still worrying. It's what we do. Also I would be hurt if my daughters felt the need to protect me from worrying, or that they were any kind of burden. It would worry me that things I said or did had caused them to think that way. Tell them, and I hope you get the breathing issues straightened out soon!

  17. This just keeps getting more terrifying. I hope you found a solution for this. It sounds really scary. Looks like you got some good advice in the comments section though <3


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