Friday, March 15, 2013

My Asthma Story and How To Be Better Prepared

I have asthma. Horrible, disabling asthma. The kind that has left me in hospital beds more than once in my life. It is not something I talk a lot about. The memories of being the kid in gym class who has to pull an inhaler out of their waistband during a class run will always be burned into my mind. As a child, asthma was humiliating. As an adult, it is frustrating. Exercise can range anywhere from just uncomfortable to a near-death experience if I am not careful. I have always been looking for an easy-to-use asthma guide to make life easier.
It's funny, you'd think as often as asthma intrudes on my life I would understand it better. I grew up in a house where my dad was a lung doctor. He understood it well and so I didn't really have to. When I became an adult and moved thousands of miles away I realized how little I knew about my own treatment. Many times since then, I will ask a doctor or my dad questions only to have them respond in "doctor speak" as I like to call it – a language I am definitely not fluent in. Honestly, until about a week ago, I still felt really naive when it came to my own treatment.

For a few months now I have wondered what I would do if my daughter ended up with asthma. Even though I have suffered from it for as long as I can remember, I felt woefully unprepared and my worry for her is what finally sprung me into action to learn more about how to treat and handle asthma. I was able to get my hands on a copy of The Essentials of Asthma by Dr. Christine Lee. This DVD/book combination set from Opitmal Life has been eye opening and reassuring.

The DVD, while a little cheesy, is full of information to help you learn what asthma is and how to control it. It helps put you in charge of your asthma. According to the movie, only 34 percent of people with asthma are given a specific plan from their doctor on when to seek treatment – 34 percent. That is such a small percentage. I wonder how many asthma-related deaths could be prevented each year if more people had the right information.

The chapters in the book follow along with the DVD and provide a nice summary. Something I really liked about the book is that for each chapter, it includes action steps, things that it wants you to do to help you understand your personal asthma better. The charts and diagrams are easy to understand and I really feel like this kit was created for the average person who doesn't understand "doctor speak," I especially appreciated the chart of the different controller medications on the market and their dosages.

Honestly, I think most people don't understand how scary asthma can be until they see a severe attack first hand. Anybody can have a severe attack, even if they have mild asthma. Asthma can also show up at any time in your life. Just because you don't have it at 20 doesn't mean you won't at 50. Take it from someone who has personally experienced that scary moment where air is almost completely cut off: being prepared could save a life.
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