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Open Talk: Most Embarrassing Coughing Fits

This entry is part [part not set] of 19 in the series What CFers Do

DisappointedToday was the coughing fit of all fits: publicly. I didn’t even have the “luxury” of having this grand mal fit at someone else’s house. It happened at church, thankfully after the service and while waiting for a meeting to start. Here’s what happened.

My best friend’s dad came over with his camera for us to take to California with us, so I was sitting there opening the case with Beautiful to my left, my mom-in-law in front facing us, and my bro-in-law and his girlfriend on my right. There was a note on the camera that said he’d switched the camera out of shooting in RAW format, so I was going into the menu to do that immediately. I didn’t remember it until later, but Mom2 was telling me about the photos on the server for me to look at and we were in the middle of a conversation about photos for the new website.

Then I had one of my coughs that sends the world black, my tongue numb, and everything goes away. Everything.

It came on without warning, no pre-coughing or anything. Blackness.

The next thing I knew, Jose, one of the elders and a family practice doctor, was over my right shoulder, Beautiful was back on my left, and Mom2 was having a clear freak-out along with her about what just happened. What did just happen? “You dropped the camera on the lens,” they said. “You weren’t answering us and you were shaking like you were having a seizure.”

“Okay, answer me this, what is her name?” Jose asked me pointing at Mom2 after I insisted that I was alright, though I freely admitted to flat-out blacking out. “Mary-Lynn,” I replied. “OK, he isn’t disoriented, which is one of the main symptoms after a seizure. Can you walk to the kitchen with me so I can test your gait? A lot of people behind you are concerned for you and I just want to be sure you are really okay.”

I have rarely ever been that embarrassed in my life. Certainly never at my home church where I’ve been since I was 16 and most people know I have CF. At that point, I still didn’t know what had happened other than blacking out and dropping the camera. “It’s not like I fell,” was all I was thinking until we started for the kitchen and then I started thinking, “what did they see? Why is that person smiling at me now?”

I’ve never felt so at the mercy of my damaged body before in my life. I had lost complete control of everything, making me extremely glad I didn’t have to go to the bathroom at the time.

In the kitchen, he took my pulse and blood pressure. Both were elevated, but within reason for such a coughing spasm. He would have been concerned if I had lower blood pressure. His O2 meter hadn’t come to life because it was too hot from being in the car, but since I was carrying on conversation fine, he let it be.

What really happened

So on the way home, Beautiful told me what I did. We were talking and I started coughing, but really badly. She was shaking my shoulder asking me if I was okay, but I didn’t respond. She shook harder and yelled louder. Still no response. That’s when the freak-outs began because people look to her to know if things are OK. Things were not OK. She got up to go get Jose, and the others rushed with her. They were only gone 10 seconds, but I’d gone into a slouch back with my head looking up and my tongue out and my arms down at my sides in stiff-fashion, still coughing hard and my whole body was shaking.

Then it was over.

I hope that never happens again. Ever.

Has anything like that ever happened to you?