Most people who know me know that I’m lucky enough to be a mild asthmatic. This is especially true when I’m exposed to allergens, in particular cats, which can give me a severe attack in mere minutes. Even more fun, the effect can be magnified if I happen to have a chest cold.

Well, on Friday, we went play poker at Javan and Christina’s… and they have a cat. And I have a cold. The poker was good fun. The asthma, not so much. Fortunately, I brought my inhaler… but, with the cat, not to mention the gradually increasing temperature of the house (thanks to the additional bodies), and all the talking and laughing, I had to take a number of doses in a fairly short time in order to control things.

But, it gets better! After getting home, the symptoms flared up, so I took another puff and tried to get to sleep (I would have also taken a Claritin, but I’d taken some allergy pill that Massie had (which is, evidentally, ineffective for me) and wasn’t in to mixing meds). Then, at around 2am, I woke up, wheezing away (see, isn’t this fun?), and did what you’d expect, and took another couple of puffs. And that’s when everything went bad.

You see, the drug in my inhaler is one called Salbutamol. It’s a beta-2 antagonist and binds to receptors in the lungs, triggering the fight-or-flight response normally generated by adrenaline, resulting in a smoothing of the bronchial muscles and a widening of the airway. In a pinch, it’s a miracle drug, capable of moderating an asthma attack in minutes. Unfortunately, it also triggers a number of side effects which, under normal circumstances, rarely occur for me. Except for this time. The difference, however, is that, after some reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that I, in fact, probably overdosed on the stuff. Among the fun things I experienced:

As well as increased urination and mild muscle cramps in my feet. Joy! To be honest, I think it was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced… imagine feeling uncontrollably nervous and scared, combined with a racing heart and the sensation of pressure on your chest. Then throw in difficulty breathing, thanks to the asthma, not to mention exhaustion due to lack of sleep.

As you can imagine, there was no way I could go back to bed with all this going on, and so I went downstairs to watch TV and try to relax… and I never really went back to bed. I dozed periodically here and there, but never really slept, and in fact didn’t really sleep until the next night.

So, let this be a lesson to all you asthmatics out there! Salbutamol is a powerful drug! Don’t mess around with this stuff! Exceeding the recommended dose is a very dangerous, unpleasant, and frightening experience, especially if you don’t know that’s what’s happening. Be careful!