I first started to show symptoms of asthma in my early teens – wheezing particularly in the cold or after exercise. At the time we thought it was something I would probably just grow out of and to a point I did. In my late teens I don’t remember it really being an issue at all however in my early twenties, as a student living in stereotypically cold, damp houses it came back with vengeance. Looking back I breathed my way through many an asthma attack as I just didn’t know better. I thought that an asthma attack was all dramatic and panicked and urgent – but for me it can go on for days if I don’t deal with it. The best piece of advice my asthma nurse gave me was that if it’s stopping you from sleeping, it needs dealing with.
I spent my early twenties being really lax about my asthma, running out of medication (often due to the cost of prescriptions), breathing through asthma attacks rather than going to do the GP, occasional emergency trips to A&E to be nebulised when it all got too much . . .
Shortly before my 26th birthday, after a full term of suffering chest infection after cold after chest infection I finally succumbed to pneumonia and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I was admitted and stayed there for the best part of a week. It was really frightening, very painful and took an extremely long time to recover from. It was the wake up call I needed to take my asthma seriously. I was prescribed new, stronger medication and suddenly discovered that with the right inhalers I didn’t actually need to feel asthmatic any more. The new preventer I had been given really worked and I rarely needed to use my blue inhaler any more! It was a revelation.
10 years on and my asthma is relatively well controlled. I’m prone to chest infections and I suffer a lot of pain during the winter months which I believe is as a result of scarring on my lungs from previous illnesses. In the Summer I suffer from hay-fever which definitely has a negative impact on my chest but I just have to keep myself topped up on prescribed antihistamines and ensure I don’t allow my asthma medication to run out. I have an NHS pre-pay certificate now which costs me about £10 a month and is more than worth it. Bearing in mind at a bare minimum I have a couple of inhalers a month – by the time you add on antihistamines or a course of steroid & antibiotics to treat a chest infection, asthma can turn out to be a very expensive illness indeed and I do so resent having to pay for the privilege of being able to breathe properly!
I’m living proof that Asthma really does need treating with respect.