Now that we’re past the basics, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about some best practices for coping, both for the asthmatic and their partners; and in fairness, I need to mention his is all first-hand example, so be aware and if you’re trying to come up with some methods, don’t rely on this as a pure how-to. More like how-I-did.
For the Sufferer: Learn about your illness, dammit! I can’t stress this enough. And research is not the most helpful thing in the universe, trust me. I spent a couple of hours before writing this doing research and, man, am I ever depressed. When I talk about learning your illness, I mean study yourself. When you’re recovering from an attack, try to figure out how bad it was; should you have taken other action, is it worth discussing with a doctor, what set it off? This will make your life a lot easier, because it will make you more informed than any clinical study ever could about where your own personal limits are, and how your illness interacts with the world at large.
Food allergy? Easy fix. Pet allergy? Easy fix. So much of what causes asthmatics to have terrible life experiences is no big deal, if you pay attention to your surroundings and make yourself aware of the changes you can make to maximize your time without symptoms, and minimize attacks when they happen.
For the partner/family member/friend: RELAX! Please! If you’re caring for someone who has trouble learning the limits of their illness and what triggers them, help with this process, because it will reduce your stress levels too. If you’re caring for an informed patient, then let them tell you what to freak out about. know this is counter-intuitive, but when your wife/husband is wheezing and audibly having trouble breathing, look at their expression for a moment, see if it’s something they’re active in coping with, or if it’s just another day at the office.
Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to nag; your experience of this chronic disease is going to largely depend on how they cope with it, granted, but your experience of THEM is, let’s face it, tempered at least in part by how much compensating you have to do for their ease or trouble in coping with it.
Always remember: This illness does NOT go away. It’s like a volcano, there’s no such thing as extinction. An asthmatic can go for years, even decades, without ever having an episode, but until some megic bullet is created, anyone who ever fit into the moderate to severe classification will always have to retain their inner discipline and watch out for attacks. It’s no joke, this disease is life threatening to anyone above the “mild” category, and even then, the right trigger can do sme pretty heavy damage.
You don’t have to fret about it 24/7, but it’s worth ensuring that approrpiate steps are in place – what those steps are entirely depends on your experience of asthma itself. For me, these steps are bigger deal than for others. And I’m starkly aware that I’ve got it easy compared to some.
I was aiming at talking about why I don’t contribute to research, and my opinions on the public view of this illness… But after this week of writing, I honestly don’t think it would contribute much to this series. Instead, tomorrow I’ll end with a quick sum-up of the posts, and do some digging for helpful resources to share with fellow asthmatics out there.