July 2, 2015: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first drug for cystic fibrosis directed at treating the cause of the disease in people who have two copies of a specific mutation.
Tilt my head up and to the right,
catch the eye of the moon and beg.
For one day without it. One school day
with no pain, no worry, no wheezing
or crackling or coughing. Wish the moon
would reach in with his moony fingers
and pull out all the mucus like half-
dried rubber cement, peel it away.
My nurse asks where the congestion
lurks. I dip into my chest, send
a little mind-speck of light from
the back of my eyes down the inside
of my face, down my throat, let it sweep
through my upper chest before dropping
like a plumb bob to the cellar
of my lungs. I point and she listens
with the stethoscope. Her faraway
look becomes a smile; she high-fives
me. Or she shakes her head and says
“An inch to the left.” I learn.
Fifteen minutes after commencement,
a thin, clear film of saliva slips across
my tongue, back to front. Spit. I have
not had spit in fifteen years. Moisture
layers my eyes--not tears, just the normal
wetness of normal eyes. When the fan
is on, my lids close over the cool.
It is not the sensation I expected. The moon
has not ravaged my body. Instead, a French
Revolution has risen up. Creeks and rivulets
are flooding the alveoli streets with pickaxes
and battering rams. The rioters push
against the old stone battlements that have
been getting thicker and more impenetrable
for four decades. Pain climbs until they bring
the walls down and rebels and stones
are coughed down the channels, up, and out.
Sick, my chest once held a baby sock
of air, but now the shapes change hourly.
At first, a finger on the left. Above
it, a playing card teaser that soon fleshes
out to the fullness of a stretching hand.
Then, a clementine-sized shock. A thin,
grey veil of headrush every time
I breathe in. I should be Julie Andrews,
of the mountain. Instead I am Boo
Two a.m., seized awake. A thousand
steel balls on strings pulled
through my left lung toward the center.
A thousand knives. A thousand intruders.
The front line ignites. Its contour edges
to my midline, the pain a sharp angel,
bringing ruin, bringing salvation.
I gain a cannonball of lung in one day.
The controlled explosion brings up
years of my life. A breath,
and my favorite red shirt in middle school,
news stories long forgotten, an election
into mind. The memories were hiding,
barricaded by dark green milestones. I am
breathing as well as when I was thirteen.
99.9 degrees. Skin sore, as if my back is
some kind of spiny animal. I want
to pull out the invisible hairs on my
sacrum. A cleaner lung smell makes
the sinus infection stand out
Energy level steadily increasing. Dizzy
every afternoon to bedtime. Constant
confusion like a camera changing focus.
Sputum color and consistency, thin
and light green. Fighting cautious optimism.
We go for a walk which turns to a bike
ride when we see the rentals. Indian summer,
and the crowds are out. A hundred
pedal-turns in and I am waiting for the pain,
the usual moment when my thighs,
hamstrings, and calves fill with sand and glue.
Instead, the clear, deep breaths reach my toes
and the rubber-band muscles push without effort.