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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: 6/29/2012
Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by David A. Kaufman, MD, Section Chief, Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Bridgeport Hospital-Yale New Haven Health System, and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (6/1/2010)
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