Asthma Friends are the BEST Friends
Do you have a certain friend or group of friends that you are very close to? Friends who just ‘get’ you? Friends who know absolutely everything about you and love you for who you are?
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a lot of friends. I was a part of many different social circles. But I was never really close to the majority of them. When my asthma was flaring up I would become withdrawn and not want to hang out with anyone because I didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to myself and be labeled as the “sick kid.”
When I was 9 years old my parents sent me to a week long sleep away summer camp for kids with asthma. I didn’t want to go. I already didn’t like people knowing I had asthma. I had only been diagnosed with asthma the year prior. It was during that week that I found my tribe of people. Kids just like me who totally “got me.” We were all in the same boat and really understood exactly what we were going through. I attended this summer camp for the next 4 years until I was too old to continue. I maintained pen pal friendships with many fellow campers for many years after camp was over. It was at that camp that I made up my mind to become a Respiratory Therapist when I grew up.
Now as an adult and a Respiratory Therapist for the past 12 years, I have made some amazing asthma friends. I do a lot of volunteering with the American Lung Association as well as other lung and asthma organizations. We are all there because we either have lung disease ourselves or have been impacted by lung disease from a loved one or friend. I have made some of my absolute best; closest friends in the world. I make it a point to seek out other asthmatic people who need someone just like them to be a friend and support system.
My closest asthma friend (we hashtag each other #asthmabff) Lorene and I met during the summer of 2013. We were both on the medical staff (she is an amazing Asthma Educator and also a contributor to this site) at the same asthma summer camp I attended as a child. We instantly bonded over our severe asthma diagnoses. Her heart for asthma and passion for asthma education is unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Once you find someone who shares the same disease that you also suffer from you can relate on such a deeper level.
There are times when my asthma is acting up or I am just in a funk and need someone to talk to or vent to and Lorene is always there for me. And I am there for her. Whether it is a text in the middle of the night or a random phone call just to say “hello, how are you feeling today?” Or to complain about how much asthma just sucks sometimes. I have a tendency to be very stubborn with my asthma and Lorene is amazing at keeping an eye on me even though she now lives 500 miles away from me.
In 2014 at the same asthma summer camp for kids, I had a severe asthma attack that was brought on by my heart arrhythmia. Lorene was an absolute rockstar. While I do not remember most of that day, I do have a vivid memory of Lorene being there doing her best to keep me calm. She knew all about my asthma and was able to relay information to the doctors also on the camp medical staff as well as the firefighters and paramedics that were called to transport me to the hospital. I am incredibly thankful that she was there that day. She really means the world to me and is one of my very best friends.
Making friends can be hard, especially if you are new to an area or on the more shy side. I would highly recommend looking into any local asthma or lung disease groups that your area might have to get commented with. Groups such as this one can also help connect people. An asthma friend doesn’t have to be local to be a good friend and support to you (and vice versa). You never know who you’ll completely connect with until you give it a try and open that line of communication. So I have a challenge for you. If you don’t already have an #asthmabff, start the search for one. You won’t be disappointed.