You know that feeling you get after youve survived a really bad asthma or COPD exacerbation? One that probably put you in the hospital for several days? Where it took weeks of painstaking recovery and a slow prednisone taper, but then you finally started feeling pretty good again? You felt victorious that you beat it and you’re feeling like your old self again?
Nope, that’s not the feeling I’m talking about.
All is good again, until one day, whether it be 2 weeks or 6 months down the road, you start noticing that your breathing seems mildly labored again. It only bothers you a little bit, so you’ll just keep an eye on it, increase your meds as needed and hope that will do the trick? Nope, that not the feeling Im talking about either.
You’re now several hours into this new uncomfortable breathing pattern and your rescue inhaler isn’t really cutting it. You check your peak flows to see if they might reflect how you’re feeling. They’re a little lower, but actually not too bad, so you starting questioning yourself… What the heck is going on?
Nope, that’s not the feeling I’m talking about either.
You’re now into a full day of this nagging breathlessness. You feel uneasy and constantly tight, but not overly so. You think to yourself, “Something’s not right, am I getting sick again?
Close, but still not the”feeling” I’m talking about.
Youve now been dealing with this for a couple of days you’re getting no reprieve from ANY of your meds. Your peak flows have dropped into your yellow zone. Your O2 sats are OK, but it seems like everything you do is making you short of breath.
Nope, not it.
Then it finally hits you like a punch to the gut…… you’re flaring again! You thought maybe you got a lucky, but you didn’t. You’ve just been out-smarted by this disease…again. Your exacerbations usually come on really fast with an obvious trigger, but this time it tricked you and it came on slowly without a known cause. You say to yourself, “Why is this happening again?, I just went through this hell and have done my time. Is my life going to be turned upside down again? Am I going to end up in the hospital again? What have I done to deserve all this?
THAT’S THE FEELING I’m TALKING ABOUT!!!
God I hate that feeling more than anything in the world. It’s got to be the most depressing, defeating, stomach churning feeling there is. A feeling of impending doom. Like a dark shadow coming over you. How naive you were to think that you would never have an attack as bad as the last one, or convince yourself that youde never have to take another steroid, take another neb treatment, or have another blood gas drawn. When will you learn.
You’re on heighten alert now and getting more anxious by the minute. If you weren’t working really hard to breath before, you certainly are now. You begin following your asthma action plan, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’ve contacted your doctors, maxed out your meds, but still you’re huffing and puffing. You start cancelling plans and notifying friends and family just in case.
Then the exhaustive mind game begins. How bad is this going to get? How long should I tough it out before going to the Emergency Room? Should I go now before this flare gets worse? Am I a wimp if I go in too early? Will people take me seriously if my sats are above 90%? Should I stay home, self- treat the best I can and just hope that things improve? If I go to the hospital will I end up in the ICU, or worse….on a ventilator? What are my odds of me actually dying from this F’ing disease?
I don’t know about you, but this is the mental anguish I go through, or should I say…. put myself through, every time I my asthma flares and I get sick. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
There’s more to asthma than just fighting to breath. “THAT FEELING” is just one, of many aspects of living with severe asthma that most people are probably not aware of.