Last night I woke up and went to the bathroom, and when I lay back down my tongue started tingling and I became convinced my throat was closing up, and that I needed to pay very close attention to my breathing, or else I might die. I went back to the bathroom, turned on the light, looked at my tongue: nothing. I felt my throat, looked at my skin for any sort of rash or hives, but there was nothing, nothing.

I knew at this point that I was probably imagining things. It has happened before: since the time I really did get hives in my throat due to an allergic reaction, I’ve woken up several times convinced I was about to suffocate. Once, it was because I was feeling acid reflux from eating too much Thanksgiving food. Mostly, it’s for no reason at all.

(The ironic thing is, that time I did get hives, I had no trouble breathing. I had hives all over my body and in my mouth and throat, but the allergist had me do a breath test, and found my lung capacity totally normal. My fear comes mostly from the way a nurse at a different allergist’s office described—slowly, lovingly—the terror of feeling your breath grow shallow and shallower, knowing that your brain will soon blink red and then go black and blank. It was instructive, but probably not the way she meant, unless she was a sociopath.)

Anyway, I’m fine. I’m on a mild antibiotic, and I made the mistake yesterday of looking up the side effects because I thought I was getting a light skin rash, and “feelings of breathlessness” were also on the list. I’m very suggestible to that sort of list, so it’s hard to say if I really had the side effect or—more likely—just had a dry tongue because it’s 100 degrees out and then extrapolated disaster from there.

I think it’s kind of amazing the way the human brain can dive into an idea and, even without real evidence, commit to it. Under the banner of the body, the mind manifests the things it imagines. We are pliable in that way, and I can’t decide if it makes us more perfect—what a strength, after all, what a strangeness—or far, far less.

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On a very different note: just a quick reminder that I’m a finalist for Best Local Author in the Best of Tucson poll, and voting closes August 5th! Anyone can vote, but you have to vote for at least 30 categories. If you want to vote for me, I would appreciate it!