The Asthma Killer, Part One (of 4)

There will be no science in this story. If you are a scientist, go back to your beaker and your ‘facts’ and your proofs. There will be no proof here, there will be no explanation of what I am about to tell you. This is how it went down and the result is true. There were witnesses. There can be no denying it.

It was early on in my marriage. A group of friends had formed up around us and we met every Sunday Evening at our small apartment to play board games and conform to other stereotypes of people who do not drink alcohol. I acknowledge there were charades. Among this group was Danny and Danielle (no, I’m not making up those names), friends of my wife Erin since High School.

One night we all got to talking about asthma, as young twentysomethings are likely do at parties (again, no alcohol). Erin and Danny both suffered from the gasping malady and were sick of it. For Erin, it was a serious issue.  Her attacks were terrible, sometimes requiring an emergency visit to the hospital. Some people grow out of asthma, most have to live with it their entire lives, desperately grabbing for air and always claiming their favorite Goonie isn’t necessarily Mikey.

Asthma medication is expensive stuff. We are inundated with ads touting ‘better relief’ and ‘deeper breathing’ through chemistry. There is no cure for asthma.

Or is there?

Danny: I met this guy once…

Every great story starts with “I met this guy once…”

Danny: I met this Mexican guy once and he told me how to get rid of asthma.  He swears it works. His whole family had asthma and then they did this and everyone was fine. They’re still fine.

Me: It worked, huh?

Danny: That’s what he said.

Danny told us the story of how he met this man and what he told him. You weren’t there when Danny told the story, so for all you know it went like this:

Danny was working as a ranch hand in the lower Arizona Desert, near the small border town of Nogales. By day he herded cattle and did other ranchy-type things and by night he partied with the senoritas and ate fish tacos, in that order (you don’t want fish breath when trying to get some lovin’ from the chicas). Danny wore a sombrero and tortillas replaced dairy as one of his five basic food groups.  He even grew a sweet ‘stache.

One day, about three months into his tenure at El Rancho Menudo (possibly not the actual name of the ranch), he had an interesting conversation with the long-time ranch hand, Paco Jose. Danny was minding his own business, taking a break and watching the herded cattle shuffle into the pen. It was a cold morning and his asthma was acting up as his breath drew short. He hacked out a cough that sent his phlegm traveling upward to the top of his sombrero, creating a nice little moat around the inside brim. The physics of this cannot be explained, nor can you prove that it did not happen. As I said, there is no science in this story.

Paco Jose took note of Danny’s distressed state and sidled up alongside him.

Paco Jose: Whatsamatter, Gringo?

Danny: Oh, nothing. (Sniff) It’s just my asthma acting up.

PJ: Asthma, huh?  Heckuva thing, asthma.

D: Yeah…

PJ: Asthma steals a man’s breath, takes his life from him and dares him to wrestle it back. I’ve seen a lot of scary things in my day. Things that would kill a woman from fright should she dare to look upon it. Things that would make the toughest of men weep mightily and cry out for the safety of their mother’s bosom. But I ain’t never seen nothin’ that compares to the look of sheer horror that enters a man’s eyes when the asthma takes over and he’s brought to the brink. The shortness of breath, the gasp. The vain clutching of the throat.  No one should have to live with that. No one.

D: Yeah… but what can you do?

PJ: Danny, did I ever tell you that I used to have asthma?

D: Paco Jose, this is the first time you’ve ever talked to me.  I wasn’t even sure you knew english.

PJ: That right?  I have a B.A. in English.

D: Really?

PJ: Anyways, my point is that I used to have asthma.

D:  Used to? You grew out of it?

PJ: No.

D: Then how–?

PJ:  Danny, would you like to get rid of your asthma?  For good?

D: Sure.

PJ: Then clean out your ears and settle the bronco. You’re about to get some knowledge.

To be continued…

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