It’s a frightening feeling, struggling to breathe. Sounds dramatic, I know, but this is the reality of living with asthma. I have been asthmatic all my life and been medicated since the age of two. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t need to make sure I had my inhaler close to hand.
While I live a perfectly normal life and appear to be fit and healthy from the outside, asthma has certainly impacted my life and drastically so on several occasions.
Asthma, by nature, is unpredictable and can strike at the most random moments, although generally an episode (asthma attack) is brought by some type of trigger; in my case, exercise and if I add winter weather, a virus or bug or even hay fever to the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster.
It is a disease which I successfully manage with medication most of the time, although it isn’t effective 100% of the time. If I’m having a particularly bad day, it can land me in hospital or out of hours doctor on a Nebuliser which is usually followed by a course of antibiotics and steroids.
The worst attack for me over the last few years was after a walk with the kids. We went for a stroll, weren’t in any hurry and the weather was decent. I had my then two-year-old in the buggy and his six-year-old sister walking beside me. We were only gone about half an hour and weren’t pushing ourselves too hard but as we got closer to home, my breathing started to get quite laboured, so I stopped just around the corner from the house and took my inhaler. It did nothing.
I made the decision to keep going so I would at least be at home if it got worse.
By the time I reached the house, I literally fell in the front door gasping for breath, while my two children watched. It was one of the worst moments I can remember. When my inhaler failed to help again, my six-year-old had to run for help. I once again ended up on a nebuliser and was thankfully okay.
The point is that asthma should be taken seriously.
There are almost half a million asthmatics in Ireland and it is a manageable disease but like most chronic conditions, management and medication need to be reviewed regularly. With one in five children in Ireland suffering from asthma, it is particularly important that we look after the little ones too!