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So This is What Good Asthma Control Feels Like?

For several years my severe, persistent asthma was poorly controlled. I became accustomed to fearing many situations that could make my asthma flare – climbing stairs or a hill, being outside in the cold or rain, letting myself get rundown, and dealing with stressful situations.

A recent trip to a museum…

My brother who lives in Virginia came to visit me for a week in California. We visited a museum with a rainforest exhibit. Once the doors shut on the exhibit entrance I realized I just entered into a big dome of humidity. I was excited to see the exhibit and spend time with my brother, so the last thing I wanted to do was to turn around the leave to protect my lungs. So I stayed. About 30 minutes later we left the exhibit and I wasn’t coughing or wheezing. We went into a room that simulates fog that made breathing uncomfortable. This time I walked right out. Crisis averted. I did take the elevator and avoided the stairs. I was still breathing just fine. No asthma symptoms.

Staying symptom-free on a trip to Alcatraz Island

On a sunny and very breezy day, we took a trip to Alcatraz. This meant a ferry across the bay to San Francisco, and then a second ferry ride to Alcatraz. On the ferry to Alcatraz Island, we stood outside in the cold wind, a definite asthma trigger. On the ferry, they announced that the island was difficult to navigate due to uneven pavement and a steep climb up the hill that was equal to 13 flights of steps. My brother looked at me said, “Are you going to be OK?” My answer of “I don’t know” was an honest one.

I was seriously nervous at this point. It was getting colder and extremely windy. I had already pushed my lungs by spending a few hours walking faster than my normal pace around the Fisherman’s Wharf in the cold. It seemed my best course of action was to pre-medicate and use my rescue inhaler before getting to the Alcatraz. It had been months since I’ve used my albuterol, so I had to dig deep into my purse to find it. I primed the inhaler by shaking the inhaler and spraying 2 puffs in the air. I took two puffs and hoped I wouldn’t slow my brother down on our tour.

Landing at Alcatraz Island and feeling anxious

There was an option to get a ride to the top if you had a medical condition that required it, but I wanted to see if I could make it on my own. The first section wasn’t too hard. The second section was a little tougher, and some of the other visitors were starting to slow down or give up. The third section really slowed me down. I took it slow, stopped when I needed to, and made it to the top. My brother was very patient.

Once inside the prison, we were directed to take a flight of steps to start the tour. Oh no . . . I was not about to attempt a flight of stairs after all the steep climbing. I asked an employee if there was an elevator. There was, but getting us on it was a production, starting with employees yelling to each other “they need an elevator!!!!” I was a little embarrassed but thought passing out on the stairs would be more embarrassing. Once we took the elevator to the second floor I felt fine and had no trouble navigating the prison tour. Because I’m so short, by Fitbit said I actually climbed 25+ flights of steps, not the 13 they announced. Again, no asthma symptoms.

This is what well-controlled asthma feels like

At the end of the week, I marveled at how I made it through without having an asthma episode. I realized, this is what have well-controlled asthma feels like. It is such a happy yet unfamiliar feeling.  I’m afraid this feeling will be short lived, and it’s just a matter of time before a trigger (or several) put me right back into poor asthma control. Until then, I’m going to enjoy every moment of easy breathing!

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


  • iam2nd
    8 months ago

    Wondering what you are doing to achieve your current level of control – I have been on everything it seems, now on Trelegy, which seems good but maybe I am still not experiencing good control. My pulmo thinks that my issue is COPD, more than asthma, I disagree as I live it every day, but he is willing to let me try whatever is available for the condition. Tried to contact you on AsthmaChef but contact page didn’t contain a link.

  • Lorene Alba, AE-C moderator author
    8 months ago

    Hi iam2nd,

    Thanks for reaching out! I think it has been a combination of a few things:

    – I did move across country from DC to California. Humidity was a huge trigger, as was the building I worked in.

    – reducing stress by changing jobs. I didn’t realize I was so stressed until I reduced the amount of work that was expected and I was doing. A more laid back lifestyle in CA took some time to get used to but has helped with stress.

    – allergy shots reduced my reaction to dust mites, dogs and cats (somewhat). Now it seems I only have attacks when I get sick.

    I was incredibly lucky to be able to make a move that was beneficial.

    How often do you experience symptoms? How well are you controlled now? What are some triggers we can help with?

    Thanks for letting me know about my contact page…I will that!


  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi Shellzoo – glad to hear you appreciate the experience of good asthma control. From you consistent posting over time, I believe you have a good understanding of your various condition(s) and triggers. It also appears you pretty much know how to handle the bumps in the road when it comes to your breathing, regardless of the trigger. Keep up the good work. And, good luck with your upcoming appointment in 2 weeks. Please be sure to keep us updated as to your progress. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    8 months ago

    I was doing great this past Spring and the past two weeks I have frequently needed my rescue inhaler. I suspect grass allergies or maybe because we have had so much rain, mold. I have an appointment in 2 weeks and suspect by then I will be feeling better again. At least I got a good taste of what good asthma control feels like.

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