It’s 1:49 am and Nick is struggling to breathe. It’s hard to listen to him sleep, the rasping through his throat is frightening. He took Advair at bedtime. Then, at 11:00 pm, I gave him Xopenex. I don’t remember how much I can give him. I don’t know if the Xopenex opens his esophagus which is the problem he’s having this time. I thought it only affected his lungs lower down.

I can’t sleep. I tell you. I really can’t. He wakes himself now and then, but in between, he rasps. I wish the lights were on so I could tell if he were pink or blue. In the light of the television, he still looks pink I think.


An easy breath. I could sleep here in the living room if this were the sound he was making all night. Normal snoring. I had been about to close my eyes. I was warm, wrapped up in my blanket, the television set to a low volume to mask the sounds he’s making. Then his breath sounds deepened, became strained. I was awake instantly, throwing off the blanket, pacing back and forth, trying to remember how much I could give, which parts of his lungs it opens, looking at the notebook in which we mark his doses, the date, the time, and the amounts. This is his second steno pad. It’s nearly full. Adrenaline flows in my veins, not a lot, but enough that I can no longer sleep.

Damn that nurse who said he might not struggle in his sleep, that with the asthma, he might slide quietly into asphyxiation. That conversation occurred more than six years ago, but I still remember her words. Can I listen for hours? Can I stay up all night until he wakes in the morning and fall sleep then, after he’s safely watching television again? It’s agony. I want to wake up Mike to ask about more Xopenex. I want to call the specialist and ask if more Xopenex will even have any affect on his esophagus. I can’t stand it, this listening. I’m so tired. I don’t remember the answers. I just know he’s struggling, that he’s so tired after being awake for 41 hours that he’ll sleep through his distress, through my agony. Damn that nurse.

Thank you for listening, jules


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