In a previous blog post, It Ain’t Easy Being Wheezy, I touched the topic of my experience with asthma as a child. Now a year later, after rhapsodizing about not having an attack in over a decade, I found myself in a position where not even my reliever inhaler was working.
In mid November 2020 I started to feel tightness in my chest and then the wheezing began and I had to talk in phrases or else I’d run short of breath. Can you imagine how scared I was given that this was happening in the middle of a pandemic that affects your respiratory system?
I never really felt like I was suffocating, I just wasn’t getting the amount of air I felt like I needed. I eventually worked up the nerve to go see a doctor who then scared me into thinking I MIGHT have had Covid. This was exactly why I was dreading having to go to a doctor. I knew the first thing they’d say is “Covid”. Anyway, I had to shell out some coin on a stupid test that I knew was going to be negative. I was working from home and I literally went NOWHERE. How could I have contracted Covid?
Lo and behold, my test result came out negative and I was both relieved and upset. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and I had to purchase an inhaler, for which I got a ton of scolding about since apparently even if I hadn’t experienced any symptoms for so long, I should have still kept one. This kept me up and going for two weeks and then I began feeling wheezy and tightness in my chest. This time I went to MY doctor. I held off from going to him because… he’s a pediatrician. However, he seems to always know what to do when my lungs are about to fall apart. This time, instead of the inhaler, which at this point was effective for two minutes at least, I had to start my nebulizer sessions again. Get this though; I had no idea where my nebulizer was. Evidently I’m the worst asthmatic ever! Yeah, so that day I had to go out and buy one and some Prednisone.
In my mind, for some reason I couldn’t come to terms with the thought of my asthma coming to take over my life again. I was upset that I had to spend money on this machine that I probably won’t need again after three days. I was in complete denial.
I spent Christmas doing little nebulizer sessions and after that I was good until the beginning of February. It felt more aggressive this time. My chest literally HURT. I sat in my room and cried which made me feel even more short of breath. The most annoying part was that my job required me to talk for nine hours straight, nonstop! At 11:00 am, my day had barely just begun and I already felt like I’d been at it for fifteen hours and I was wheezing like I’d just killed a pack of ciggies! I eventually went back to my doctor who then increased the dosage on my nebulizer solution. By the way, I really wouldn’t recommend Salbutamol if you have anxiety. Just trust me on that one! Ask your doctor for something else.
In the middle of March I got a new job at a medical facility. I felt like life was finally good. I was no longer feeling winded or had a tight sensation in my chest, I was excited about my new job and the Easter holiday was coming up so I was planning a small trip. Well that lasted for a small minute because out of nowhere one day I felt like a fish out of water. My inhaler was good for nothing and I had to put all my focus on just breathing because I think my body might have forgotten how to do it. To top it off, I think I would have probably fainted soon enough because I started to “see black ants”. This is never a good sign for me. The last time I “saw black ants” I was eight years old and ended up limp and almost lifeless in my aunt’s arms at midnight.
It’s a good job that one of Belize’s best doctors was one flight of stairs away and thanks to my coworker for demanding that I go to see him at once because I wanted to wait until my lunch break to go. Turns out I was underestimating how severely tight my bronchi had gotten and my oxygen level was low. I told my doctor that I didn’t think anything of it because I wasn’t hearing any wheezing. Apparently they were SO tight that I couldn’t hear my wheezing with just my ear alone, but when he listened with his stethoscope I was whistling like a train. So now I know that I can’t take for granted that I’m not THAT badly off since there’s no wheezing. Or at least I THINK there’s no wheezing. After discovering that this was more serious than expected, doc prescribed me some Budesonide, a new neb solution, and some Montelukast plus a week off work.
After a week I went back to see him, this time I could hear myself wheezing so I thought I wasn’t improving. However, wheezing was actually a good sign this time. It meant that my bronchi were opening up. It’s very contradictory and confusing. He also advised me not to underestimate how sick I am and not to treat my condition poorly.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that asthma really isn’t a joke. It alters your way of living life. For instance, nowadays I’m always worried about what’s going to be the thing to trigger a flare up. If the weather changes, I worry that it’s going to cause a flare up. Even wearing these masks all day can be inconvenient for me. I walk slower than before and talk slower than before. I get around the workplace a little slower now since I wait for the elevator instead of taking the stairs like I normally would. I get tired easily and don’t sleep well sometimes. Too many emotions are bad. What’s worse than an asthma flare up? A full blown asthma attack, that’s what.
My fellow asthmatics, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Take care of yourself. Go to that doctor’s appointment, take your meds, do your nebs and always have your inhaler with you. After this I’m definitely going to take asthma more seriously because it has been kicking my butt!
Oh, and purchasing the nebulizer wasn’t in vain. It’s been a life saver… literally!
If you’re an asthmatic, how has our little frenemy been treating you?