A maze in the shape of a pair of lungs

A Fluid Asthma Action Plan

I did not develop asthma until I was in my late teens. I was kind of diagnosed as an afterthought. I had been dealing with multiple chest infections and slowly started to develop shortness of breath as a result.

During a particularly nasty chest infection, my doctor prescribed me an inhaler. Honestly, I thought it was the coolest thing. I had friends with asthma and always thought having an inhaler was "cool," whatever that means. Suddenly I had my very own inhaler. At the time, I did not know that that inhaler would progress to a lifetime struggle with asthma.

Developing a plan

Because I never had an official diagnosis of asthma early on, my doctors and I never created an asthma action plan. As I got older, and my asthma symptoms progressed and worsened, I started doing my own research on asthma action plans.

All of the plans I found online, or rather the templates for plans, made asthma treatment seem straightforward and linear. The problem was, my asthma was never straightforward or linear. My asthma has always been complex, even before the days I was labeled as having severe asthma.

A few years ago I sat down with my current pulmonologist and attempted to outline an asthma action plan using one of those linear templates. We managed to get the action plan filled out, but it was a struggle. It has sat untouched in my file cabinet ever since then. It was a nice thought, but a totally useless one, and ended up being an exercise of futility.

A fluid action plan

Instead of a straightforward treatment plan for when my asthma flares, I think of my asthma action plan as something that is fluid. It moves and changes to what I need in the moment, instead of dictating a plan that may or may not be effective. The severity of my asthma exacerbations range from isolated attacks to month (plus) long exacerbations that may or may not require hospitalization and a long steroid taper.

Having had asthma as long as I have at this point, I am pretty savvy when it comes to treating my symptoms. I know when I need steroids, I am pretty good at figuring out the dose and generally know when and how to taper off of them. And each taper is different. Sometimes it is a straightforward taper, but other times it is convoluted with decreases and increases, progress and regress, steps forward and steps backward. But that is the dance you have to learn when dealing with severe asthma.

Autonomy

I have worked with my pulmonologist for long enough now that he trusts that I know my asthma enough to know how to handle my asthma in most cases. He has given me the autonomy to adjust some of my medications, especially during asthma exacerbations. He gives me permission to work with a fluid treatment plan. Despite having such autonomy, I am always purposeful in including him in critical decisions and keeping him in the loop when things change with my asthma symptoms.

I know that not everyone may be in a position to have such a fluid plan, but I am grateful to have a doctor who allows me to have so much say in my asthma treatment. I feel like I am better able to control my asthma this way and I do not feel like I have to rely on someone else to dictate how to treat my symptoms.You can read more about my current asthma action plan here.

Do you have an asthma action plan?

Have you worked with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan? Have you ever had to revisit your plan to make changes? Do you have a fluid asthma action plan? Share your experience with the community by leaving a comment below or clicking the button to share your story.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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