Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gasp. Wheeze. Cough-Cough-Cough.

There are something like 50 forest fires burning merrily away around Quebec this week. And while normally this is something I care about on an environmental/where will the little bunnies go?/poor trees/I hope it doesn't burn any homes - level, it's suddenly become personal. As of Saturday, a nasty thick cloud of smoky crap began to settle over Maine. I logged onto and found myself confronted with words I hadn't seen since moving away from Phoenix in 1996, "Air Quality Warning", and a blurb about smoke from the wildfires drifting toward our county.

Right on cue, that night I began to wheeze. Then cough. And cough and cough and cough and cough. Bear complained that her throat felt "thick." Bug's nose was itchy. Tom began clearing his throat upwards of 38 times per minute.

It had been a gorgeous day, and all our windows were wide open to catch the evening breeze. I caught of whiff of woodsmoke and remarked to Tom, "It smells like someone's burning brush." Just as the sun set, I noticed that the air was looking hazy and thought that probably meant that tomorrow was going to be a real scorcher.

When my genius-level, lightning-quick reflexes kicked in about four hours later I connected the air quality warning with the smell, the haze, and my family's inability to breathe and hurried to shut all the windows. Which frankly didn't help all that much at that point.

Let's just say husband has a pretty clear idea of what it would feel like to sleep beside a 75-year-old man with emphysema and incontinence problems now, what with my wheezing, grabbing for my inhaler, coughing, then running for the bathroom because coughing makes me need to pee. I was a delight and take full ownership for his sleep-deprived crabbiness at the breakfast table the next morning.

That was five days ago. The air still sucks. I'm getting a little peevish about it, and I'm starting to suspect that the fires were started by pharmaceutical companies.

No, seriously. Hear me out.

The smoke from these fires is affecting not only people in the Quebec area, but New Hampshire and Maine. That's a lot of people. (I'm too lazy to Google population numbers here, and I don't voluntarily do math before noon). Many of these people will need cough medicine, allergy medicine, or inhalers because of the air quality. (I'm basing this on a smallish research group comprised of me and the fact that I've been swigging Robitussin straight from the bottle and sucking on my $124 inhaler like it's a pacifier). Multiply that by some large number to represent affected population minus smaller number to represent number of population with lungs of steel/people who shut their windows earlier than me. Result? HUGE revenue for drug companies.

I'm hoping if I solve this for the Canadian government, I'll at least get a free inhaler out of the deal.


Dawn in Austin said...

Hey! I lived in Phoenix from '82-'92. And you moved to Maine? Where it snows?? Wow.

I'm sorry about your sucky air quality, especially as I know this is your favorite time of year to be outside. Hoping it goes away soon.

smalltownmom said...

I hear you! We've had so many wildfires around here...

Quilting Grandma said...

What you are living with right now, is exactly what we lived through the last three forest fires we had in the high mountains of the Southwest, but add live ash falling on your property. It was and is aweful!

Rose said...

Hope you feel better soon! Down closer my way, the Gulf is looking pretty threatened.

Susan said...

It's all one big conspiracy - the spring here is so windy that everyone is suffering from the pollen, even if they never have before.

Tom said...

I am just laughing my butt off at your sorority-girl style "new math." - in between clearing my throat and gasping for air, that is.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

How awful! That's an interesting theory, though--makes me think a Grisham-style novel might be brewing!