Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

I Could Hardly Get the Word Out.

on August 8, 2014

The Daily Prompt focuses on words that sound like the thing they describe. It asks the question do I have an example of such a word and what do I think creates that effect on me.

Immediately the word wheeze comes to mind. Beginning when I was two years old and continuing into my early 20’s I had chronic bronchial asthma. The raspy sound of wheezing when I tried to breathe identified an attack coming on. It felt like my chest was being squeezed like an accordion only to produce very unmusical sounds. It took so much effort to wheeze that I had a hard time getting words out. I spoke in gasps between breaths. An attack very often came on in the middle of the night and interrupted my sleep, and my mother’s.

My wheezing, like other involuntary bodily sounds, affected other people in various ways. In my teenage years sleeping over at each other’s house was the big thing. When I invariably woke up wheezing in the middle of the night I just moved my sleeping bag into a closet so no one else would hear me. In the morning my friends weren’t surprised to find me there. While I was a student at a women’s college we were allowed to stay overnight at nearby men’s colleges on weekends, in authorized boarding houses only. One night I was sleeping in a room with four girls from another college whom I didn’t know. In the middle of the night I woke up wheezing, which naturally woke up the other girls. One said she was sure a cat had somehow gotten into the room. I was so embarrassed that I sneaked into the bathroom and spent the rest of the night sitting on the toilet lid. Long ago I outgrew my asthma. Still, when I hear someone wheezing my chest constricts in empathy.

To me the word wheeze sounds like having an asthma attack. The wind to breathe out the sound of the word begins deep in my throat. After I have expelled the word I feel a lingering tightness in my chest like the breathlessness of an asthmatic wheeze.

7 responses to “I Could Hardly Get the Word Out.

  1. Ha! I feel you vivachange. I used to have asthma as well, one day we were staying with my younger brother at my great aunts place in the country after the sudden passing of a great-grandma. We didn’t know the place and must have been 6 or 7 years old. We were sleeping in an antique bed in an antique room. In the middle of the night, we woke up to the sound of a cat purring. We looked for it under the bed, and in the closets and corners of that strange room for a good ten minutes before realizing I was the one making the sound. 😛 It was the weirdest thing.

  2. vivachange77 says:

    Yes, strange beds and cats. I’ve had one asthma attack in my adult life – in a strange waterbed belonging to my son’s girl friend whose cat claimed the bed as his. It was the cat purring and me with the asthma. It was when I learned I’m allergic to cats.

  3. vivachange77 says:

    P. S. Sleeping in guest beds at relative’s houses brought on my asthma attacks, too. I think it was the unfamiliar dust.

  4. I’m so happy you outgrew the ‘wheeze’; not the nicest way to learn empathy. But from what I read you already had that. You were more concerned about others sleep than your own.

  5. vivachange77 says:

    Thanks for your comment….and your empathy.

  6. Karuna says:

    That word so does match the sound. Very interesting!

    I relate to your experience of spending the night in the bathroom after waking someone up. I am like that if someone tells me I am snoring……

  7. vivachange77 says:

    I like your comment. Thanks.

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