I am sure you know someone with asthma. I thought that I would write about my most recent attack, which maybe will let you understand a little bit about what someone goes through when they have one, although mine was not life-threatening. But it’s still kind of frightening and definitely not fun.
I had a difficult day yesterday. I woke up at three AM, agitated. You would think that I would know why immediately, but it always seems to take a process of elimination before I realize that I’m not breathing well. I wonder how typical this is for asthmatics. I felt thirsty, so I got up and drank a glass of water and then a second glass. That thirst is a big clue that my lungs aren’t happy, but it still didn’t register. I went back to bed, and felt winded, just from that little bit of activity. That’s when it occurred to me that my chest was not moving easily and if I tried to push air out I heard a wheezing sound. My neck hurt. My chest hurt.
There are different kinds of asthma. Mine used to be much more obvious. I’d wheeze loudly and usually feel itchy. But it has changed: I am almost always getting plenty of oxygen, but still I struggle to breathe. It’s as if the top half of my lungs are fine and the bottom have stopped working properly. All of those little tiny accessory breathing muscles are working hard. When it starts to clear, I cough up thick mucous. (Sorry if that strikes you as gross)
Asthma is a scary and life-threatening disease that affects way too many people, especially children, in our modern world. No one really understands all of the reasons for the increase in asthma diagnoses. One reason may be that we are exposed to fewer infections, which seems to leave the immune system without an appropriate job. We also have increased exposure to indoor allergens, and to various pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide from gas stoves, fumes from household cleaners, diesel fumes, air pollution, and smoke.
I have had one doctor and three different energy workers tell me that my diaphragm doesn’t engage on one side, when I am having these attacks. Perhaps my phrenic nerve gets pinched in my neck somewhere. Chiropractic work does seem to help, as does craniosacral therapy on my OA joint and cranial bones.
This was the first attack of any note that I have had since I found out last summer that I am allergic to eggs and kidney beans and started avoiding them. It finally cleared enough for me to get some sleep, but not a lot, and my chest felt tight all day and I still today am definitely not breathing as well as I would like. It makes it hard for me to focus, it creates an underlying feeling of irritation, and I am really frustrated that nothing I’ve tried has gotten my lungs to stay clear for more than an hour or so at a time. However, my peak flow is good, so I know I’m okay for now. I have enough past experience with emergency rooms to know that they can’t anything for me that I can’t do at home.
I got some acupuncture and did some work on my neck last night, which, with my medications and supplements, gave relief and let me sleep. Oddly enough, I’ve found that a capsule of cayenne pepper often does the trick, at least for an hour or two, so I took one of those, too. I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me – I’m an otherwise very healthy active person – just to understand that I might not want to be very social or nice right now.
- Spare a thought for asthma suffers – today is World Asthma day (pinnaclelife.co.nz)
- emedicine on asthma