Asthma: Personal stories

Joe, age 23 (asthma was severe as a child)

Except for my asthma, I was a pretty normal child. I enjoyed sports, playing with my friends, tormenting my little brother, and all the other things little boys do. When I was about 10 years old, I was diagnosed with asthma. I was playing outside during winter, and when I went inside, I started wheezing. It took me an hour to catch my breath again, and by that time, I didn't want to go back outside. My parents got worried and took me to the doctor, who told us it was asthma.

My scariest asthma moment came a few years later. It was Christmas Eve, and my family had gone to a concert. I even remember that it was a performance of Handel's "Messiah." On the way home, I started wheezing . . . Then I couldn't breathe. We rushed to the hospital, and it was a relief to get there. While the doctor was treating me, the power went out in the emergency room. We spent a few very scary moments in complete darkness before the emergency generator turned on.

All that seems like a very long time ago. I do not need to use my medicines much anymore because I have learned over the years how to live with my asthma and control it. When I was first diagnosed, I needed to use my medicines all the time, but now that I know how to monitor my asthma, I rarely get to the point where I need to take my medicine. I avoid dangerous situations (i.e. cold air, allergens), and try to mentally regulate my breathing. I relax my body and let my lungs take in the air. I always have my Albuterol spray with me, though I rarely need to use it. After this many years I have been comfortable doing what I do. I am lucky that my asthma is so mild that these techniques work well for me.

Though I have asthma, I exercise frequently. I run and lift weights. I also played saxophone for over 8 years (high school and college). I played the baritone sax, which requires a lot of lung-power. That was probably my greatest asthma success.


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Review Date: 5/16/2007

Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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