May is Asthma Awareness Month, and World Asthma Day is this coming Tuesday. This month, I am hoping to CHANGE as many perspectives on asthma as possible . . . by SHARING as many perspectives on asthma as possible! I am blessed to have many people in my world sharing in the asthma journey with me, who are also willing to contribute their own stories over the coming month.
I am excited to introduce you to my friend Rona, an occupational therapist living in Chicago. Among the very first of my “online friends” I met offline, I was lucky to be able to meet her for dinner back in August 2011 during a whirlwind trip through the Windy City. Rona is such a sweet and compassionate person, and I am lucky to be able to share part of her story of HOPE today. Thanks, Rona!
I was diagnosed with severe persistent asthma in August of 2007 at the age of 52. After a lifetime of seasonal environmental allergies, bronchitis, and pneumonia, my lungs never really were very happy. I lived in three different areas of the United States, but ended up coming back to Midwest America for many reasons. As it turned out, my lungs absolutely rejoiced here in Chicago, a large industrial city. Living far from the industrial side of the city, the air is relatively clean here.
I went through all of the stages of anyone else with any chronic illness. Denial that this could actually be happening to me progressing to truly accepting that I do. I embrace the fact that it is part of me, but it does not define me.
If you should meet me, you might notice the effects of prednisone on my form, but other than that, you don’t see asthma. Back in 2007, you may have. This visual change, this lack of shortness of breath, is what has enabled me to move on with life. Without saying, my less than loved rescue inhaler is an external hard drive for my lungs. Always plugged into my pocket.
Armed with many drugs consumed and breathed daily, I still suffer with exacerbations every 2-4 months, depending on unintended exposures to my numerous triggers. Still, those in-between moments are wonderful. I never could have believed that I could have a full life and have severe asthma. As I danced at both of my daughters’ weddings this last Fall, this is testament to my lungs playing a minor role in my life. I write this to thank the doctors that nursed me back to health, regulated my recovery and always encouraged me to follow their multi-lined detailed “asthma action plans”. I owe them my life, to be sure.
With this said, I know not all of us have the same quality of life. There are many worse and many better than I, however one thing is for certain: Life goes on and each breath is hope for yet another one. Let all of us take a moment to look forward and hope for a better tomorrow for the very young and the very old all suffering from asthma worldwide.
I’d like to take this opportunity to add my two cents as someone who has experienced asthma. I, and so many others, know its impact on family, career, community, and the world. It is time to continue to do more than limit exposure to the triggers. What else can we do? Looking to the researchers and the funders of this research to lead the way to the answers. There are just too many suffering from this. We need to look at education of both those bearing the burden and those in our communities who don’t understand, to take them and walk with them until they do.
Finally, I thank you “asthma” for joining me in my walk down my own path of life. It’s been interesting, hasn’t it? Although you took my furry pets, my dust-ridden stuffed animals, my spontaneity and many of my life’s choices, you have taught me persistence, and for that, I respect you. Now leave me alone, will ya? <3