Dear Coach Wachtel: I am sorry.
I never had asthma.
I knew so many kids in school who had asthma attacks. They would stop suddenly while running in gym class, eyes wide, mouth open. They would suck and gasp for air. An adult would run over and promptly give them a small inhaler and everything would be fine in moments. It was rare that an asthma attack was severe enough to warrant a visit to the nurse’s office and I certainly never observed any “worst case scenario” situations while in school.
It looked awful. The poor kids who wanted so badly to play badminton, kickball, or even just go for a jog outside had to be constantly monitored by an adult. On particularly humid (or pollen-filled) afternoons, the Guilderland High School track saw its fair share of a child, doubled over, trying to regain his breath.
The same thing happened to me. I would run, play a sport or even climb the bleachers. Suddenly, I had to stop. Doubled over, I gasped for air. Adults would run to me, frantic, asking me about my inhaler.
But I never had asthma. I was just an overweight kid.