10 Things I Wish People Knew About My Asthma
I’ve had this disease for 46 years now. I’ve talked about it. I’ve written about it. So there’s not much that people do not know about my asthma. Still, there are things I wish I didn’t have to tell people about my asthma. There are things I wish they just knew.
- I have allergic asthma. I have a double whammy of allergies and asthma. This is the main reason my asthma is as bad as it is. Controlling one means controlling the other, and this is often easier said than done.
- My asthma is controlled. There are two ways to determine good asthma control. One is using your rescue inhaler less than 2-3 times in a two week period. This applies to about 90% of asthmatics. Two is satisfaction with your quality of life. Because my asthma is atypical due to the double whammy, this is where I fit in. So, even though I often use my inhaler more than most asthma guidelines recommend, my doctor and I are both satisfied with my level of control.
- My allergies are worse than my asthma.. Sure airborne viruses trigger asthma symptoms, but the majority of my grief -- sniffles, sneezes, and wheezes --is caused by allergies. Technically speaking, if I lived in a bubble, I’d probably have very few symptoms. But that wouldn’t be any fun.
- I have allergies, not a virus. I often find myself explaining to people that I have allergic pink eye and it’s not contagious. I find myself explaining that I’m sniffling, sneezing and coughing because of allergies, not because I have a cold.
- I don’t use my asthma as an excuse. Look, I hate asking people to do all the work around my house. But the fact of the matter is that most of this work involves being around something I’m allergic to, and it’s simply not worth it for me. Trust me, it’s not easy watching someone else do work I feel I should be doing.
- It rarely causes me to miss work. In fact, I bet I have missed less than one week because of my asthma in 20 years working as a respiratory therapist. That’s a pretty good track record considering my asthma does cause me some grief from time to time.
- I’m not going to miss out on life because of it. There is really nothing that I miss out on because of my asthma. Sure I might have to pace myself. Sure I might have to limit myself to one night at my dad’s cabin, but I will not miss out. That said, there will be times that I have no choice but to stay home.
- I can’t just leave home on a whim. When my dad and brothers decided to go somewhere, they just got up and went. When you have asthma you can’t do that. You have to plan ahead. Will I be allergic to something where I’m going? Do I have my allergy medicine? Do I have my asthma inhaler? Have I taken my medicine. These are things I have to think of, before I go.
- My medicine makes me jittery, I’m not going through Detox. Inhalers I use to keep my airways open, both short acting and long acting bronchodilators, make my hands tremor slightly. Add in a couple cups of coffee, and a stressful situation where adrenaline naturally increases, and the tremors get worse. It’s not because I drink too much, and not because I’m nervous
- My asthma won’t kill me. Look, if my asthma were going to kill me, it would have done so long ago. When I was a kid I used to suffer in my bedroom for hours, gasping for air like a fish out of water, because I didn’t want to bother my parents. My asthma (and allergies too) are more of an annoyance than anything. Fittingly, Dr. Henry Osler, the father of modern medicine, once quipped, “Asthmatics pant to old age.”
Okay, so now it’s your turn. What are some things you wish people knew about your asthma?
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?