Asthma in the Wild (or, Bus Stories: Asthma Edition)

Often, I fail at completely zipping up all of the little compartments on my backpack. As I came back from a meeting earlier this week and was getting off the bus, a woman got my attention and said “Your backpack is open—don’t lose your inhaler. I forgot mine at home today."

Funny enough, I had thought I’d forgotten mine at home and didn’t really realize I had one until she informed me I almost didn’t have it due to unzipped backpack problems.

“That sucks,” I told her, shrugging my backpack off and sliding it around to zip the open-ish pocket. “It’s a tough time of year.” I thanked her for letting me know (briefly thinking that had she just let me lose my inhaler, she could have solved her lack-of-inhaler problem… Not that, you know, it’s a great idea to take some random bus person’s inhaler that’s fallen out of her backpack…)

This isn’t the only asthma moment I’ve had on the bus. One was actually when my friend Stephen taught me the art of stealthy inhaler taking on the Vancouver SkyTrain (which is not a bus, but close enough). I’ve taken a few stealth hits of my inhaler while en route on a bus myself, but nothing too memorable.

One other time here at home, I saw a person fire off 4 or more puffs of a corticosteroid inhaler sitting at the front of the bus, in rapid succession, with terrible technique straight into her mouth with no spacer, and then get off the bus near a medical clinic and had said to someone she was going to the doctor—presumably for her asthma? Of course, I overthink everything, so I spent the remainder of my bus time wondering whether or not she knew how she was not doing the whole inhaler thing quite right, whether or not she rinsed her mouth out, had she ever developed oral thrush? Would they inform her that this method is totally not probably actually getting her any more than like, 6% of the drug (fact check: made up statistic) and that also, by the way, an inhaled steroid is not a rescue inhaler? Maybe she was not even going to that medical clinic for asthma! Maybe she would never even find out what she was doing wrong with her inhalers. Would someone send her to an asthma educator? Please, please, healthcare system, ensure someone gets her this information!

Honestly, I have no reason  that I was so focused on this situation, although I totally now am like:


(And many other memes)

Also, by the way, I totally wanted to provide you a picture with a lady using her inhaler upside down, but I couldn’t figure out the usage rights on it, so here it is: this lady is totally doing it wrong, too.

Asthma is very much present in the wild—you just have to look for it. Or listen for the unmistakable sound of an inhaler in a bus, bathroom stall or public event near you.

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