My Asthma Journey Journal
My asthma journal is my guide. It is my forum for whining and it has become my guide to peace and gratitude. Shortly after having surgery to treat lung cancer, my asthma became a more difficult piece of my health puzzle. New, daily asthma medications became part of my regimen. After a few years of taking only one daily asthma medication and rarely using my rescue inhaler, I was suddenly taking a host of new medications.
I was struggling to move forward and breathe freely. It was a trial and error process to find the right combination of medications that treated my asthma effectively. The process required patience. However, patience is hard to come by when you cannot breathe. It was a frustrating and confusing time.
A little background
I had always been healthy. Then, at 31, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Surgery and a few courses of radiation brought me through that episode in flying colors. I felt blessed. Then, ten years later, the cancer was back and required a more extensive surgery (but no radiation). Again, so blessed. Fast forward a few years and I am diagnosed with asthma. I still feel healthy and blessed.
Then I had my first severe, send-you-to-the-hospital asthma attack. I did well, bounced back, no new meds and in about 6 months' time I was able to stop using the daily maintenance inhaler. Blessed again!
Fast forward again and I have lung cancer. It was detected at a very early stage, quite accidentally. Surgery was essential, but no radiation or chemotherapy. I am blessed beyond my ability to express in words.
Here’s the catch
The lung cancer surgery threw my asthma into a monumental, unexpected tailspin. Prior to surgery I was healthy, in great physical shape, and was only 57.
In those early days after the surgery, the feelings of frustration, fear, and confusion were pretty intense. I was a walking asthma attack. I could not walk 10 feet without needing to rest or having asthma symptoms hit me hard and fast. It felt like a bad dream. I had been the woman who worked all day, came home and went right back out to do a five or six-mile walk, or I drove more than an hour to visit my mom or my children in their college towns. How could this be me?
I needed a journal to vent
I decided to start writing in a journal. In truth, it is just a spiral notebook. Originally, I thought it would be a good way to keep track of medications. A page for the successes and page for the failed attempts.
My little spiral notebook/journal became a lifeline for me and got me through some pretty trying days. It is full of rants, sad faces (some happy ones too), but it is mostly full of hope. I read that journal now and am so grateful for the progress that I’ve made over the last six and a half years. Blessed cannot begin to describe how I feel.
Those early days are full of fear, sadness and defeat. There is a turning point and it is obvious. My doctor finally found the right combination of meds for me. I was starting to feel better, my asthma was finally better controlled and my body was finally healing. Even the fractured ribs from all the awful, powerful coughing were starting to feel better. Life would finally get back to normal. Well, a new normal at least.
An journal for asthma has many benefits
My journal gives me comfort
My journal helped me through difficult times and I continue to use it regularly. I was never a diary keeper as a young girl. However, I have always found comfort in writing about how I feel. In the past I used writing as a way to vent, then I tore up what I wrote and I moved on. My asthma journal has an entirely different feel to it. It is undoubtedly a place to vent.
My journal is a reference for my care
I have also found it to be a very useful reference — and not just about past medications. It provides useful documentation. After almost two years of trying to work, stay healthy, and manage asthma and a host of other health problems that impact my breathing.
At one point I could no longer keep pace, be effective in my job, and take care of my health. I found the combination stressful and most especially, debilitating. I decided it was best to retire and file for disability. In that process, I was asked to detail my illness and its impact on my daily routine. All I had to do was refer to my journal. It was all there. I read through and could clearly detail how asthma and lung cancer have impacted my life in general and on a daily basis.
My asthma journal is my hope
My life is different for sure, but reading through my journal reminds me of how far I’ve come. It reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for and how patience and knowledge brought me comfort. My journal gives me hope. It reminds me of how many people helped to get me to my new normal. It reminds me that living my life fully, accepting the challenges, working through the difficult periods are all part of my new normal and I must embrace all of it to continue the forward motion in my life.
Do you keep a journal or another writing practice to manage your asthma?
Have you experienced a collapsed lung?