Monday, May 7, 2012

Sorry for any spelling errors

My hands are shaking as I type this. 

It's not an earthquake, or an unsteady chair.  It's not that I'm an emotional wreck or vibrating with joy over something.  It's an autonomic response to the beta agonist I just took.  AKA the albuterol shakes.

See, I have asthma.  I've had it my entire life.  I was diagnosed when I was six.  I have what's called cough-variant asthma, which is just like regular asthma only the main symptom is coughing instead of wheezing.

I have my little arsenal of inhalers - some I carry with me everywhere I go, some I take on a schedule. 

I am a good asthma patient and still use my spacer, even if most adult asthmatics stopped using theirs ages ago.  I sometimes have to take steroids, which turn me into even more of a raging crazy person than I normally am.

(Side note - once, after I got a big ol' steroid shot, I went to the Olive Garden to eat dinner.  It was during their never-ending pasta bowl special.  And I am here to tell you today that it is NOT never-ending.  They cut you off after four bowls.)

8% of adults worldwide have asthma, and 9% of children.  Every day, nine people die from asthma attacks.  It's not something to fuck around with.  And, as a life-long asthmatic, I get pretty irritated when people imply that asthma is something that I could rid myself of forever just by losing weight.  People who can't breathe because they're morbidly obese are just as asthmatic as people who smoke.  Yes, they experience some transient symptomatic relief with albuterol, but it's a bronchodilator.  Everyone in the world would experience the dilation of the bronchioles with that treatment.  When the problem is that your body habitus or chest wall is so heavy that it compresses your lungs, your problem isn't asthma, it's your physiology.  When the problem is that you fill your lungs with smoke and toxins, your problem isn't asthma, it's idiocy.

Asthma isn't something that exclusively strikes nerds, as it has always been depicted in the media.  Although severe or uncontrolled asthma can certain limit a person's ability to play sports or spend a lot of time outdoors.  It's a chronic disease that can pretty significantly impact a person and those around them.  It can be pretty damn scary to watch someone have a full-blown asthma attack.  Not to mention all the missed school or work, doctor visits, medications, etc that families of asthmatics have to deal with.

But it's also something that, once controlled, can be no more limiting than allergies or nearsightedness.  Bill Clinton is asthmatic.  So is Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  And Martin Freeman, who is one of my favorite British actors.  So now you know a little more about asthma.  And knowing is half the battle.

PS - Lest anyone forget the reason for this blog in the first place, I must give a shout-out to Host Friend and his lovely wife for getting me these little beauties: