By James T. Young
The expanded conversation about Asthma Awareness in recent years is very good. I imagine that only people who actually suffer from it can appreciate how frightening or fatal an attack can be.
I had a summer job at a bakery in Richmond, Virginia. There were several steps in baking commercially. Next to the last step was was placing the dough in a pan and placing the pan on a rack. When the rack was full it was pushed into the steam room, where the bread rose, before going into the oven. One day the foreman told me to go into the steam room and straighten the racks up because they were all stacked near the door. I opened the door and began to push the racks deeper into the steam room. I tried to inhale while in the back. I inhaled, nothing! So, I inhaled again, nothing! I came out of that steam room like a shot out of a rifle. Once outside I took a deep breath and my lungs filled with air as I inhaled deeply.
All of the regular employees were laughing because that was a sort of “initiation”. They all knew that once you left the area where the door was open that there was no oxygen further back in the steam room and after a little exertion one found that out. That is the same type of reaction that Asthma sufferers must go through, except their bronchial tubes constrict keeping the air from reaching their lungs.
As terrifying as my “steam room” experience was, can you imagine what an asthmatic child or adult must cope with knowing that at any moment the air they breathe, food they eat or what they drink may trigger an attack? May the search for a cure and the dissemination of information about asthma awareness continue.
About the author: James T. Young, SEE empoloyee in the Office of Public Engagement.