Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Health: Living with Asthma

The Bottom Line
Asthma is not fun
But when managed you can still
Enjoy your whole life

My name is Mark, and I’m an asthmatic.

I’ve had asthma as long as I can remember.  My trigger is allergies, and I am allergic to dogs and cats as well as pollens and house dust.  Spring has always been an especially bad time for my allergies, so it was always a bad time for my asthma.

I can remember as a child my parents waking me up in the night because I was wheezing and coughing so much.  Back then, anyway, I was a very heavy sleeper.  And yes, we’ve done the humidifiers and the steamy bathroom to help me breathe easier.

My asthma was never a year round thing, but it was always worse in the Spring when the pollens were active.  I’d have to regularly use an inhaler to keep my airways open so I could breathe.  I remember one year in school being excused from final recess and PE during spring because my allergy medicine would have worn off by that point and I’d have attacks.  Frankly, I sometimes wonder if this is one reason I was always more of a reader than an active kid.

Now if any of this sounds like a complaint, it’s not.  I never had to go to the hospital because I couldn’t breathe.  And it’s just part of my life and who I am.  I grew up never knowing any differently, so it never really bothered me.

Fortunately, my asthma is pretty much under control these days.  I’ve heard many kids outgrow it when they hit their teenage years, and I think that might have happened a little with me.  The bigger change, however, are the allergy shots I get every month.  Thanks to them, my allergy medicine actually works, even in the spring, instead of just sort of knocking out the allergy symptoms.  I get four each month: grass, trees, weeds, and dust.  A couple times, I’ve tried going off them, and my allergies and asthma have gotten much worse.

Those who know me know how much I love ultimate Frisbee.  This sport most closely resembles soccer, but with a Frisbee, and you can only advance the disc by passing it.  It involves lots of running, and it’s played on a grassy field.  Running always triggers my asthma as a kid, so you can imagine what running on grass, one of my biggest allergens, would do to me, especially in the spring.  Thanks in large part to my shots I’m sure, I can go out and play without even thinking about it.  The last two years, I’ve taken up running, and even running on pavement wouldn’t be possible back when I was in elementary school.

A few years back, I was thinking about taking up scuba diving, but that can be fatal for asthmatic due to air pressure in the lungs triggering asthma and the air not being able to come back out.  I decided against it.  Frankly, that’s the biggest thing it has cost me as an adult, but that’s okay because I honestly don’t need another expensive hobby in my life.

Would I love to be able to be completely cured from asthma and my allergy triggers?  Absolutely.  But thanks to my shots, I am pretty much living asthma free.  I rarely have to think about it, which is a wonderful freedom compared to when I was a kid.

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