Elite Asthma Fighter ( adj.): A “Badassmatic” who in the face of constant and severe exacerbations, is relentless in the fight and refuses to give in.
Obviously all asthma flares that are severe enough to warrant treatment in an intensive care unit are bad, but for some of us, even the more potent and potentially fatal attacks are kids play. In dealing with a bad asthma flare, it’s not just about surviving it; your chances of coming out alive on the other end are actually very good. What can be really be difficult to endure however, is the fight itself. It’s always hard to get through these things, but sometimes its ridiculously hard. Those of us who have come up through the ranks and those who are fighters, will eventually earn the status of what I like to call “Elite Asthma Fight Club Status”. These are people who’ve gone above and beyond the occasional bad flare up, and who struggle day to day both in and out of the hospital, just to stay afloat with their asthma. Sad but proud to say, after 140 hospitalizations for this disease, I am now a permanent member of that prestigious club… the club that nobody wants to join. So lets get this asthma gong show on the road, shall we?
BTW, I’m formulating my thoughts on the fly here, so bare with me. Essentially what happened is that I missed out on doing the half marathon in Canada on October 14th, 2018 that Id trained so hard for, due to multiple back to back asthma flares and hospitalizations that never seemed to end. Sure, Ive had to miss out on races before due to bad asthma exacerbations popping up at the last minute, but this one was special and was supposed to be sort of a comeback race for me. The training for it was difficult and I invested significant funds in shoes and travel expenses and logistics.
I suppose in the scheme of things, missing out on a race, regardless of how important it may have seemed at the time, is nothing compared to fighting for your life against an opponent that happens to your own disease. In the end I still came out ahead and achieved Elite status. It may have not been for trekking a 13 mile foot course as planned, but I did cross a finish line of sorts and was still declared the winner.
Below is a photo chronology of what the heck Im talking about:
This is what an Elite Asthma fighter looks like after a 28 day asthma fight. Pretty sobering eh? In total I spent 26 days in the hospital. Was intubated twice for respiratory failure. Had multiple bouts of ICU psychosis while in the unit. Lost 9Kgs of body weight, down to 53Kg (119lbs)from 62Kgs. As of this writing ( the day after discharge), despite improvements in my breathing and a ton of medications, Im still very short of breath requiring neb treatments every couple hours. My muscles have atrophied so much I can barely walk. In the hospital I required both physical and Occupational therapy to learn walk without falling over ( not good for an endurance walker) and sessions with a Nutritionist to get my weight back up. And while Im now down to 60 mg of pred, Im still suffering bouts of psychosis from it, for which I have to take antipsychotic medications.
As of this writing Im out the of the hospital and in recovery mode, but as with most Elite Asthma Fighters, coming home means the party has just started. The critical part of the fight is over, but I will be on tons of medications for weeks and rehab for months. But here’s the thing, while it may take some time, Elite Asthma Fighters ALWAYS bounce back. And I for one, WILL NEVER EVER give up my right to a life free of breathing problems. I was born fighting this disease and will continue so till I take my last breath.