My Personal & Family Asthma Story: "You Are Managing This Very Well"

...the Urgent Care physician said to me after auscultating my lung fields.

"No sign of pneumonia. You are well in control of your asthma with your measures".

I was being assessed as I was experiencing a virus with fever, aches and pains, shortness breath...exacerbation of pre-existing asthma. WHEW, I exhaled both physically and emotionally, with relief.

Learning to manage my asthma well took me 'years' to develop, with many twists and turns both unexpected and expected. It took much time and effort, trials and errors, despite my years of experience as a Registered Nurse.

Amid COVID-19 concerns, these were 'welcomed words'. I had become ill a few days earlier and the 'shortness of breath'...well, would literally take my breath away! As well as induce anxiety, fear, near panic at times...all of which does not help the immune system respond well and fight infection.

Adult-onset Asthma

My life was asthma-free until my third pregnancy at age 34. I was diagnosed with Adult-Onset Asthma while carrying my son, my last pregnancy, who is now fifteen years old. At that time, I started awakening with shortness of breath at night, a feeling of pressure crushing my chest, and difficulty breathing with ease. It is a very little known rare risk of pregnancy.

And then the entire family

I have two daughters and one son, all of whom developed asthma also. My children have different triggers and varying severity, along with differing levels of acceptance that is needed to manage asthma well. There must be a possible genetic component here in my family which I ponder...We have so much ever increasing knowledge of this disease, education and medications, yet some things still remain a mystery to me.

Since his birth, my son has been asthmatic and suffered terrifying bouts of recurrent Croup with asthma, requiring life saving ER visits with steroid administrations each spring and fall viral season. He was even diagnosed with pneumonia on a beautiful, warm summer's day at age two. Gratefully, he has grown into a healthy and tall young fellow with less asthma than ever before...again, those mysteries.

My daughters both appear to have developed the condition post-Whooping cough (Pertusis) infections at ages 10 and 14 years, despite having been fully immunized throughout their lives. This re-emergence of Whooping cough is believed to have occurred in our communities due to others having chosen to not immunize their children.

A full-time responsibility

Managing a family of asthmatics is a full time, around the clock responsibility. The symptom management, necessary individual lifestyle challenges and changes it brings are a constant. We face this together each day, through each season.

In this new season of COVID-19, we are using our regular practices during the flu season, in addition to the physical distancing and extra precautions recommended by our Health Minister. It is especially concerning to be an asthmatic at this time, frightening.. for anyone with co-morbid conditions. How I dislike the term co-"MORBID" many of us with chronic conditions lead full lives and expect equal longevity to those without. This is a possibility with good self management, which requires ongoing learning and commitment on all levels of lifestyle. It also requires the creation and collaboration of your care team, along with those life saving medications we would not still be here without.

It requires a team effort! We try our best to support one another by being their to listen, to remind each other when we need our meds, and to encourage those times that when we should be making wiser decisions. For example, when we are unaware or denying our symptoms due to the distractions and demands of 'regular' life. We work together to keep our home scent free and absent of our individual triggers, to make our home a safe breathing space.

Sadly, having a good laugh or cry for too long is also a trigger for some of us also. So, a rescue inhaler must always be handy! Rescue inhalers are in our home med cupboard, purses, backpacks, right beside each of us on our night stands for night attacks...even in the glove box of our Jeep! They are with us when needed to give us relief and keep us safe.

And we are still safe, despite this recent virus, the many years since our individual diagnosis and even during this COVID-19 storm. I am recovering. I am managing this very well, finally.

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