A woman opening a clock to reveal a room inside, adult, female

Taking Time to Heal

A recent injury limited my ability to take a deep breath or cough without extreme pain. It is thought that this injury likely occurred from coughing in response to mucous clearing from asthma. I had rib pain earlier in the year that felt similar, and it turned out to be a rib fracture from coughing during an asthma exacerbation. My bones are more susceptible to fractures now from all the oral corticosteroid use for my severe asthma.

Severe asthma can be a red flag, especially when something is compromising breathing. The doctor immediately began ruling out the scary things like pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, or cardiac issues. The greatest concern was for pneumonia. Although it stayed on the table as a potential diagnosis for some time, it was eventually ruled out. The issue was likely to be muscle or skin-based, and it was highly suspected that my problems were connected to rib irritation or a recent injury.

Asthma healing

I should have been relieved and grateful that it was not something more serious. Being told that I will need to manage the pain and it will take time was not particularly comforting. The thought running through my head was “not another thing".

I just recovered from a rib fracture, and knowing how long it could potentially take to heal this current issue was discouraging. Then I started to wonder, as asthma patients, how do we deal with “healing time”? It can feel like asthma is filled with waiting; exacerbations generally take some time to cover of bounce back. Severe asthma exacerbations can take upwards of months to fully recover or return to baseline.

Here are a couple of ideas that I have considered:

  • How can I be an active patient and speed up my recovery?
  • What do I do with myself during this time?
  • Why is this taking so long?
  • Is it possible they have no idea?
  • Will my body heal itself?

Alternative treatment

During this time of hurry up and wait, I made a few discoveries. I could think differently about my treatment outside of medication for the pain. I went back to my roots in exercise science and sought complementary care. While this may not be for everyone, I find that massage therapy can be beneficial, especially for very sore intercostal muscles. This also helped me carry out daily activities with more success and less pain. Overall, it was a win, win.

I found a way to do tasks in spurts. Even 20 minutes of tidying up, work or cooking allowed me to still be productive. I also discovered the importance and value of rest. I have to admit this was a bit difficult to explain to other people. For example, why was I taking a break after doing one activity? I explained this in an interval training way, similar to loading and rest. I received a blank stare back from the person who inquired about this. I had to change my tactic and explain it as only having so much energy to do things and that I could do more by resting and coming back to it.

Too much time to heal

The frustration of why it is taking so long to heal and feel better is the part that I struggle with the most. Why was this happening, and why was I not yet better? Even with medications, physiotherapy massage, chiropractic care and rest, I was slowly on the mend, but it was taking forever. I set small goals for myself at each step of the way and approach it like a checklist, item by item. Each interval is a step to getting better.

What have you done to get yourself through healing from asthma-related exacerbation or injury?

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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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