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person walking away from medication, inhaler, and nebulizer

Asthma Does Not Define Me

In 2019, asthma is “just something I have.” It wasn’t always like that.

My early life with asthma

My earliest childhood memories involve nebulizer treatments with albuterol that came in glass vials and an obnoxious and heavy nebulizer machine that my mom would help me bring to a sleepover down the street. I was on steroids, cough syrups, and medications that I’m sure don’t even exist anymore. I remember restless nights, sitting nearly upright in bed because sleeping flat on my back was impossible.

Winter was my enemy. The first cold snap always sparked an asthma attack, and cold and flu germs were especially dangerous to my already compromised immune system. I also suffered horrible indoor and outdoor allergies to everything (except food). One little cold and I was put on antibiotics, serums, inhalers, steroids, decongestants and it still wasn’t enough to provide relief. I was overmedicated, and I blame my asthma medications on all the cavities I wound up with.

Managing asthma over the years

But it’s not all one big sob story. I still had a very typical childhood. I played softball, and I happened to be quite the 100-yard sprinter in track and field, and I loved swimming in the summer. In fact, by the time I was 10 or 11, I got off of my nebulizer entirely. By the mid to late 90s, new treatments became available, and my asthma was getting even more manageable. I was only having attacks when I would exercise or when I got sick. And then, like many teenagers, I took up smoking and continued to do so until I was 24. I was on all sorts of meds just to breathe, and I was using my inhaler multiple times a day.

The good news is I quit, and when I did, I took up running. My old softball knee injuries didn’t like that too much, but it felt good to get off the steroid inhalers. Five years after I quit smoking, I ran my first 5K and placed for my age group. It was me saying, “take that, asthma!” I’ve never run another race and don’t really want to.

I’ve made a lot of progress with my asthma

I am currently on Singulair as I have been since it hit the market in 1998, and I keep my rescue inhaler close by for emergencies, but those are few and far between now. The change of seasons, colds, and any allergy triggers can bring back the chest tightness, wheezing, and panic of an asthma attack.

But at the end of the day, I’m happy to share how far I’ve come so that it can give someone out there hope that with good health habits and time, things can improve depending on your situation. Everybody is different, of course. Take it easy and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Asthma will always be a part of my life, but it will never define me.

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.

Comments

  • Sarah-artist
    3 months ago

    I hope to be to a place where I don’t fear catching a respritory infection, but after last spring. I doubt that will happen. Last night I had a very sudden attack as I was sweeping the dirt at work out the door from cleaning the rug. It may have been the sudden burst of cold air or dust blowing up into my face, but the attack was sudden and strong. I reached in my apron for my inhaler and it didn’t work barely a sputter after I released the canister. I must have triggered it 5 times in succession to to enough medicine to start me breathing. Today I showed it to my mother, thinking the inhaler was defective. When I rinsed it in warm water, it worked like new. So apparently it can clog like a can of hairspray. Had I had a Severe episode, I would have been in trouble. Nothing like hearing your co-worker yell “Don’t die on me!” as you gasp for air.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Sarah-artist, and thank you for sharing this recent experience. This, as you described, must have been truly frightening. You may be right about the triggers you suggested – either the sudden burst of cold air or, the stirred up dust, or possibly even both, together. Cold air and dust are certainly triggers for some people with asthma – perhaps they affect you!

    As well, you identified a common issue with metered dose inhalers – the pinhole through which the medication is dispensed can become clogged and may need to be rinsed in order to work properly.

    I’m glad to hear you were able to get past this episode. Did you have an opportunity to discuss this with your physician? Has anything like this ever happened to you before?
    Wishing you well,
    Leon (site moderator)

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