A woman with her hand on her chest breathes deeply

Asthma Victories

I have had asthma for nearly 20 years now. I developed it in my late teens and it has progressively gotten worse over the years. As time has gone on, I have become very competent in being able to treat my asthma. I know when my symptoms are getting worse, what tools I have to handle my symptoms at home, and when it is time for me to head to the emergency room. But for the last few years, I have had trouble implementing the things I know.

Self-doubt clouding my competence

I have experienced significant medical trauma in recent years, both relating to my asthma and other life-threatening conditions that I have. I’ve also faced plenty of medical gaslighting, where my symptoms were dismissed or ignored by health professionals. This kind of trauma can lead to anxiety, self-doubt, and even physical symptoms.

In light of medical trauma, my competence in handling my asthma symptoms on my own has been clouded by the self-doubt that has resulted from medical trauma. To this end, I’ve always looked for reassurance and/or confirmation that I’m taking the right steps to treat my symptoms. My brain knows what I need to do, but my anxiety often takes over and throws my judgment out the window.

But this weekend, I had a breakthrough.

For a little over a year, I’ve been working with a counselor who specializes in chronic illness and medical trauma. She has been helping me work through some very difficult things and allowing me to process some of the trauma I’ve experienced. But more than that, she’s helped me gain back my confidence and help me find control over my anxiety and self-doubt.

I have felt an asthma attack looming for the last few days, and it hit with full force this afternoon. I am one of those who does not wheeze much with my asthma, but today I sounded like a squeaky toy. I was very short of breath and my oxygen saturations even dipped into the high 80s. Just a few months ago, these symptoms would have sent me running to the emergency room.

But not today.

My asthma victory

Today I was able to let go of my fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. In the middle of my most challenging symptoms, I was able to think through my asthma action plan without being consumed by emotional reasoning. I knew what I had to do. I stacked on my breathing treatments and pulled the steroids out of the cabinet.

But here’s where the real magic happened. When I went to my cabinet to pull out the steroids, I realized that I had run out and somehow overlooked getting a refill. My emotional brain should have sent me running to urgent care, or calling the on-call doctor, telling them my symptoms, and then being told to go to the ER anyway.

Being that today is Sunday, I did in fact have to call the on-call doctor. But instead of calling and over-anxiously relaying my symptoms, I simply asked if he could send some steroids to my pharmacy. He was happy to oblige, given that the symptoms I was experiencing were similar to that of previous attacks.

My symptoms started easing about 45 minutes after I took the steroids. I’m still doing breathing treatments every 2-3 hours, but I feel like I am in control of my symptoms and not the other way around.

To me, this was a victory! And a great victory indeed! For the first time in many years, I have handled my asthma attack on my own. It’s not that I did not know how to in the past, but my reactions have been so clouded by trauma that I have been unable to work through it myself. I have put in a great deal of work to get to this point. The feeling of success is overwhelming.

If you are dealing with medical trauma, you are certainly not alone. There is hope for change and healing. Never feel ashamed to seek out help. Never feel afraid to share your story. What kind of asthma victories have you experienced lately?

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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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