Warning: whingey fed-up blog post follows, brought to you by six weeks of not being able to breathe easily.
My name is Nicola, I am 38 years old, and I’m asthmatic. You can’t see the asthma, there’s no cloud or warning sign hanging over my head. I prefer not to wear the t-shirt, because I don’t need your preconceptions. I hate letting asthma stop me doing anything I want to do (this can end badly), so I’m damned if you’re going to stop me either. You may not recognise my symptoms (life isn’t like an episode of Casualty, asthma doesn’t always mean noisy laboured wheezing), or realise the impact they have on my life.
Most of the time, I’m very well indeed, thank you very much. You won’t see me sucking on a ventolin inhaler (I don’t think I used it once through September or the first half of October), because I work extremely hard to keep my asthma controlled. I eat healthily, sleep sufficiently, exercise moderately, take preventer drugs religiously, and try to avoid triggers. The last six weeks or so, it’s all gone horribly wrong, for some reason, and my asthma control is fecked, and I’m at the end of my tether, because I hate how restricted my life is.
-It’s not being able to make yourself heard in a roomful of people, because you can’t take a deep enough breath to project your voice. Or finish your sentence. So someone finishes it for you.
-It’s waking up, night after night.
-It’s feeling constantly exhausted, because every breath, every activity has taken that extra bit of effort. Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. A whole partyful of balloons. Imagine trying to do that whilst walking up a hill, on a cold day. Imagine every breath’s like that. All day long.
-It’s sitting on the sofa, looking at the filthy state of the carpet, but knowing you’re incapable of hoovering.
-It’s catching sight of your reflection as you walk past a window, and not recognising that woman with the stooped shoulders, walking at someone else’s pace.
-It’s having such bad handshake from too much ventolin that you can’t hit the right buttons on the PIN machine. And not having the breath to explain why. Or the energy to care what people are thinking.
-It’s wondering whether you really were that person who could run 5k.
Before anyone nags, I’m off to the doctor. Again. In search of the holy grail of better asthma control. Or possibly a plane ticket to a better climate.