I begged my mother to let me tag along with my sister, Sarah, to ride horses. Sure, we all knew I was allergic to dogs and cats. But horses? Horses were never mentioned. We were city people who knew little of horses – they were big and beautiful, the stuff of every ten-year-old girl’s dreams. Pu-lease, I begged…..I’ll be FINE!!
Against her better judgement, my mother acquiesced. It was the perfect hot, humid, cloudy July afternoon. Just right for cut-off jeans, a crop top, and a horseback ride. Ideal for an asthmatic who decided her inhaler would ruin the aesthetic of her outfit. Kicking up dust along the country roads, we finally arrived and saw the horses. Lustrous, enormous, and majestic. I was going to look AMAZING atop one of these beasts. I even brought my red and white bandana…because I was so country. (Yep, just a little narcissistic, even then.)
Shortly after mounting my horse, the symptoms came at me full force. The weepy eyes, nose running like a faucet, incessant sneezing. In the scheme of things, harmless. I was, after all, an equestrian. A little sacrifice might be required. Dreams of being a horsewoman began to fade as evidence of my allergies appeared in earnest. My multiple secretions were now joined by a steady, high-pitched wheeze, as my throat began to constrict. Eyes swollen shut now….yep, time to dismount. Even a rookie could see that I was in distress.
After trying to heal me with peanut butter cookies, my hosts eventually decided to abort the mission and get me home. Finally home, I discovered that my mom had gone to a movie. Dad was the backup – who really didn’t know what to do in this situation. Even though I’d had asthma since birth. Hospital? Nah….let’s wait. As I attempted to sob, but didn’t really have the lung power, he awkwardly patted me on the back, saying, “Now don’t cry….cryin’ ain’t gonna help nothin’.”
Thankfully, I heard my mom coming through the door. She took one look at me and loaded me into the car. We drove straight to the emergency room, where I was saved once again by a shot of epinephrine. My mother was never one to say ‘I told you so’, and this time was no different. We’d hung out through countless IV’s, oxygen tents, breathing treatments, and doctor appointments. We did agree, however, that I wouldn’t be riding a horse anytime soon. I hung on to the bandana, though, just in case.