A Chronological Reflection on My Doctors
As a lifelong asthmatic, I have been to the doctors more often than I would have liked. In each place I’ve lived there’s been a new array of different asthma triggers and different doctors as part of my asthma management. This will be a personal reflection, shared with you all, on what my experience with asthma doctors has been like. As I’ve moved around I've had the chance to experience many different doctors and there's no better place to start this story then the beginning.
My first asthma doctor
I don’t know the doctor's name - in fact, I didn’t know my name - when I was diagnosed with asthma. I can’t remember the attack when I was just a year old, nor the weeks in the hospital that followed. The conversation when my parents were told I have asthma is before my memories as well. All I really know of this experience is that I survived; I’m grateful for that and the doctor that cared for my safety.
This was in Ottawa, Canada, where I learned about my first triggers. From the hot and humid air in the summer to the freezing winds of the winter, I was constantly triggered as a child in Canada. It was here, under the care of my first pediatrician, that I was given a rescue inhaler with a spacer. I was taught how to use that inhaler and it was a part of my everyday process of managing my severe asthma.
When I really learned about my asthma
When I was 6 years old, my family moved to Seattle, Washington. The move was unrelated to my asthma but we thought that it would be better with a milder climate. Oh, we wrong! My doctor's name in Seattle was Farraris, the only doctor's name that I remember. This was probably because I was at his office on a weekly basis, usually following a trip to the ER.
My asthma became so severe in Seattle because I was exposed to entirely new pollen biodiversity; a pretty common trigger for any allergy-induced asthmatic. Dr. Farraris was the first doctor that wanted to understand why my asthma would flare and not just how to treat the symptoms. I was given allergy tests and my first peak-flow meter. I learned that I had minor allergies to seemingly anything and had anaphylaxis with several animal triggers. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma and given my first epi-pen. Hooray, a more defined diagnosis!
I am grateful for my experience with this doctor and feel as though I was lucky at an early age to have a doctor who cared to give me more knowledge about my asthma. I learned that allergies were my biggest trigger and that carrying a peak-flow could help me understand how my lungs are performing. After 4 years in Seattle, it was time to see what else could be a trigger and what other asthma doctors would teach me.
Experiencing asthma doctors further south
When I was 10 years old, my family moved again. This time, to sunny San Diego! It was as mild of a climate as it gets. Though we quickly learned that managing my asthma in Southern California would be a very different experience. My seasonal allergies turned from pollen to pyro; seasonal fires left me indoors or in a flare. Interestingly, campfire smoke has never bothered me. However, the caustic smoke that emerges from seasonal fires are as bad as cigarettes for my lungs.
I would discover that finding an doctor in southern California is easy, but finding one you resonate with and who takes your experiences seriously takes a lot of trial, error and time. There were many asthma doctors that I saw but none that I stuck with consistently. None that made me feel like I was worth their time. I often felt rushed through the process whenever I would see a doctor. This can't be said for every doctor in San Diego, but it was difficult to find an exceptional doctor that made my experience feel valued.
Through my experiences with asthma in different regions and climates I have learned three important things: My triggers are different in different places and my asthma management needs to adapt. There are many types of asthma doctors and some are more helpful than others. We have the right as patients to choose a doctor that will help us learn more about our asthma.
I hope that hearing my experiences with different doctors will help you to compare your experiences. Sometimes we don't resonate with our doctor and that's ok, but it's also ok to look for another doctor that fits our needs as an asthmatic better. I wish you, the reader, the best and hope to hear about your experiences with doctors as well.
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