Take your breath away: Dancer shares asthma attack experience

Lydia Walker takes a puff of her inhaler.

Savannah Pritchard

Lydia Walker takes a puff of her inhaler.

By Caroline Purtle, Texas HS, Texarkana, Texas

Inhale, exhale.

Senior Lydia Walker, smiling, gritting her teeth, stands at ease on the football field sidelines. The sequins cascade her neckline, a crowd pleaser, but what the crowd doesn’t see is her lungs and heart struggling beneath.

Walker is a proud Texas HighStepper. She kicks, splits, turns, dashes all over the place. On Oct. 4, during the homecoming football game against Kennedale, she started to have trouble breathing.

“I began to not be able to breath at all, like when we were standing on the sidelines,” Walker said. “That’s when I went to go get my inhaler.”

Though struggling, Walker refused to quit.

“The initial moment I knew I was having an asthma attack was right after the strut,” Walker said. “It felt like I was drowning.”

1, 2, 3… She begins to count the dance.

4, 5, 6… She landed her tricks.

7, 8… Smiling, she made it.

“I don’t remember me dancing,” Walker said. “The entire dance was a blur. I remember getting in my place, turning, then getting off.”

As she exited the field, she was in a dismal state. She searched for somewhere to rest or sit. She thirsted for just an ounce of air.

“All I can remember is throwing my poms down, grabbing my inhaler and collapsing to the ground,” Walker said.

Her body and mind took over. The scene was a complete disarray.

“Everyone was telling me to breath, like I forgot or something,” Walker said.

She lost it––what she tried so hard to control. She started shaking and hyperventilating. As her asthma stood beside and watched, her anxiety began to attack.

“So many people were talking over me and crowding me,” Walker said. “That’s when I started having anxiety attacks.”

She woke up, fragile, in a hospital bed. She is then reminded of what happened the past night.

“Before the ambulance came, I had three or four anxiety attacks. In the ambulance, I had two, and at the hospital I had one,” Walker said.

It seemed as if all was a dream, but this nightmare was real.

“At the hospital I had to get an X-ray of my lungs,” Walker said. “But luckily, there wasn’t any fluid in my lungs, and I was fine.”

The following Monday, Walker was bombarded with talks of rumors. She questioned the gossip’s extrapolation; however, she was amused.

“Apparently, I was hospitalized for two weeks, and I couldn’t breath without being on a machine,” Walker said. “Obviously, that didn’t happen. I was at homecoming the next night.”

Even though Walker has to take medicine and monitor her asthma more closely, she plans to move on and continue dancing.

“It definitely wasn’t how I thought I would experience my senior homecoming game,” Walker said. “My allergies won’t stop me from doing what I love though. On the plus side, I got a lot of new [Twitter] followers because of it.”

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