My Asthma Journey
Hi, fellow asthma suffers! I posted a little information about my asthma journey over the summer. My story is regularly adding new chapters. When I was diagnosed with asthma several years ago it didn't really impact my life in any way. My symptoms were only occasional and very mild. After a few years of just gliding along with no attacks, no symptoms, and no medications to speak of I had my first episode. It was mild but to me, having had none, it was scary. My asthma was so controlled and so mild at that point that I never even carried a rescue inhaler with me. When the episode occurred I was out finishing up my daily 5-mile walk. I was close to home when I felt a sudden shortness of breath. It brought me to my knees. I was gasping and panicking. I got home and used my inhaler and was better quickly but was shaken. That was it for another year or so. Then I got the flu. And we all know how the flu wreaks havoc on asthma suffers. My rescue inhaler didn't help at all. I ended up in the emergency room. I recovered after a course of steroids, nebulizer treatments all the usual measures. Again, nothing for another year, maybe two.
Then my asthma story gets complicated.
I was diagnosed with lung cancer and had surgery to remove the upper lobe of my left lung in 2013. Because I was active, healthy, and had asthma that was well controlled I was expected to sail through the surgery and the recovery with no problems. All of my breathing tests were normal. I showed no signs of any respiratory issues. I was not and had never been a smoker so my chances for any unforeseen respiratory complications were close to non-existent. It was a major surgery to remove a large portion of an organ so there were those risks, obviously.
I handled the surgery well. The recovery, not so much. I was home for about 5 days when I had a severe asthma attack. I was taken to the hospital. Coupled with having just had thoracic surgery this attack was very difficult and recovering from it was far more challenging. I then entered a new era with asthma.
Fast forward to today
I am on multiple asthma medications. My life is significantly impacted by asthma. Actually, life no longer exists without considering asthma in everything I do. I am managing it and living my life and I am grateful. This is a new normal, far different than my life with asthma when I was first diagnosed. I have to adjust and readjust on a regular basis.
While asthma is the major driver in the health issues I have today, I have multiple diagnoses that all contribute to exacerbating my asthma. I have a mild heart issue that causes shortness of breath and a rapid increase in my heart rate and blood pressure on exertion. I am missing a large portion of my left lung which creates a significant decrease in my breathing capacity. My vocal chords are damaged from asthma and a previous surgery for thyroid surgery. They spasm and on occasion close, which means I can't breathe. In addition, since I never fully recovered to my normal level after the lung cancer surgery, my doctor feels that there is damage to my trachea and the small airways in the remaining portion of my left lung. In spite of her best efforts to avoid an invasive procedure to determine the exact extent of this damage, I am going to have a bronchoscopy to determine what can be done, if anything, to help me breathe more easily and feel better.
Living with asthma is a challenge
So that is my story in a little bit of a nutshell. Living with asthma is a challenge. The setbacks, the illnesses and attacks, the disruptions to my attempts at “staying on track,” and the impacts of dealing with a chronic illness have been overwhelming and frustrating. I continue to live my life, bobbing and weaving, as necessary. I am grateful for this forum. I don't know anyone who has asthma and certainly no one with the combination of complications I have, so it helps to read other stories and the various topics that are presented here at asthma.net. Thank you!!
Have you experienced a collapsed lung?