For the last 34 years of the 35 years of my existence, I have lived with asthma and allergies. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s though that I finally got them both under control. Before that time, I suffered a lot from lack of treatment for various reasons. I believe a lot of it affected my self esteem.
For most of my childhood I rarely visited a doctor because of my asthma and allergies. One main reason, neither one of my parents, who divorced when I was four, had medical insurance. My dad though, attempted to “treat” my asthma flare ups with bee pollen pills he purchased from a local health food store. Of course, they did not work. I resented when I had to stay inside and rest while everyone else was enjoying playing around.
I recall so many times crying because I was frustrated and angry I couldn’t be “normal” like everyone else. When I lived with my grandparents, my nana whom I believe was a little of a hypochondriac, would not allow me to go outside when the pollen was high or it was freezing cold. If it was snowing I wasn’t allowed outside to play with my friends. I do remember often being in a daze from medications she gave me before I would go to school. I was often taunted by my teachers and peers because I would be off in lala land.
In the sixth grade I became seriously ill with a severe case of bronchitis. That resulted in me staying in the hospital for eight days. That was the first time I remember receiving breathing treatments, although I am sure I was given them when I was a baby (first diagnosed with asthma).
I remember so many times my asthma flaring up and me laying on the couch or propped up in my bed fighting to breathe while siblings and friends could freely run around, or even sleep. As I got older I remember many times waking up grabbing my chest during a nightmare because I could not breathe, which really was the case.
The scariest event that happened to me was when I was 18 and had no insurance. My asthma flared up to the point I had an attack, could not breathe and started hyperventilating. A friend took me to the ER where they immediately took me in. When my blood pressure was checked, it was sky high to where it concerned the nurses. After things settled down I learned from one of the nurses that a young girl close to my age had an Asthma attack that resulted in her going into a coma and passing away.
While I have not had another episode like that, I have come close over the years. Of course, I have learned too, what can trigger my flare ups. I also have allergies which can aggravate my asthma at times. About two years ago I made the decision to go a local allergy clinic to set up a treatment plan for my asthma. It wasn’t my first time to make this goal either.
Right after my first child was born, I had an allergic reaction to some foods I typically ate. It scared me so bad that I went to the dr then, who tested me and let me know what I was allergic to. The treatment plan didn’t last long because I got so depressed when I got home with a bag full of pills, inhalers and a spirometer along with a list of things to do and not do. I didn’t want to live my life that way.
I’ve always been that with my asthma. I felt in childhood it held me back from so many things. I hated spending the night at certain family and friend’s houses because I knew it would trigger an asthma attack. My family couldn’t afford for me to go to the doctor so I suffered miserably.
The biggest slap in the face had to come when my ex husbands grandmother who was in her 80’s had asthma, could out do me by a long shot with the spirometer. I was definitely discouraged and frustrated. In fact, I thought the rest of my life asthma would consume me along with my allergies.
In 2006 I had another scary moment with my asthma. What I thought was a bad case of the flu turned out to be a bad case of pneumonia. That put me in the hospital for four days. I was a single mom of three kids at the time. The doctors and nurses begged me to stay in the hospital to get rest and let my body heal. One lung was completely covered with pneumonia and the other was just starting to show signs of it.
Going back to the allergy clinic was the best decision I ever made. It took me close to a year to finally get my asthma under control and pass the spirometer tests with flying colors. It was the greatest feeling to hear my doctor say how pleased he was with my progress! At the same time I made the decision to start Immunotherapy Treatment (IT), allergy shots. I did kind of backslide with it for a while, but I made the decision to start back and keep persisting.
I’ve been told that in about two more years I will be tested to see how much progress the IT has done for me. I could be doing the IT for a maximum of five years, though I hope it is less than that. Even after just a year I can tell that I am doing better with my allergies.
I am able to sleep so much better since I have gotten my asthma under control. I can enjoy the outdoors, especially the long hikes I do with my friends and family. I am also doing better at keeping up with people in my life, like my kids. I look forward to the time I no longer have to do the IT shots and can avoid taking allergy medications and hopefully rarely use my inhalers.
I feel for my friends, family and even other people who do not have insurance or even a clinic they can go to for medications for their asthma and/or allergies. For years I had family and friends who gave me their used inhalers or even new ones. I even had some of them let me use their nebulizers. Had it not been for them I am not sure where I would be today.
And if I have any friends or family in need who are uninsured, you can bet I will be helping them the way they helped me. Asthma can affect a persons ability to sleep, eat, even do daily routines. Eventually it can destroy their self esteem.
For now, I just have to maintain consistency with my asthma and allergy treatment plan.