Asthma Not-Fun

I would like to realize I’m wheezing before someone stops me at work and asks, with a look of deep concern, “Are you alright?”

Really.

It’s bad enough to have someone ask me, with a look of deep concern, “Are you alright?” while I’m setting up mics and speakers for a concert.  Or walking around a con.  Or walking at a park.

It’s worse at work.

Maybe I’ve just spent too many years assuming I’m fat and out of shape and thus symptoms short of “chest pain” feel normal to me.  Maybe I need to get a peak flow meter or start a symptoms diary.

But as much as I am really tired of those looks of deep concern, I am also really tired of  walking around and suddenly not being able to breathe.

16 thoughts on “Asthma Not-Fun

  1. I can relate to that. Other than having 150 extra pounds to lug around, I am diabetic which has given me numerous other problems over the last 40 years. I was always having the CNA’s ask me, the LPN, if I was alright. “You’re pale. Do you need to eat something?” You are breath8ing so hard. Are you alright?” That was the CHF. “You are acting strangly. What’s wrong? Do you need to sit down?” It was always something. And the doctors assure m e my numerous conditions will go away or at least lessen in severity if I will only lose that extra 150 pounds. They assume I want to have weight loss surgery, or did. I’m past the age limit for that now. They have finally quit nagging me about the surgery but still want me to lose weight. You know what? I’m 61 years old. I have never wanted to lose weight badly enough that I would stick to a diet. It’s not about to change now. The only one of us five kids that stayed a ‘normal’ weight, was my youngest brother. And he died several years ago. I think I’ll do as I have done for 61 and a half years and eat what I want and be happy. Shoot, they told me I wouldln’t live to be 25 anyway in 1972!
    You are a different person with different problems and you have to do what is good for YOU. I have to do what is best for ME. This is my own personal cross to support, as your problems are yours. And that’s it in a nuutshell. We have to do what is right for US, not what others tell us. I hope you will think about what you are supposed to do and do as you think is right.
    I love this website. Keep up the good work. Merry Christmas and a happy 2012

  2. I can totally sympathise. (And I hate people assuming my asthma is due to my weight when I was severely asthmatic as a child and it actually improved to the extent of no longer needing medication at the same time that I became obese!)

    Are you on the right “preventer”? My asthma returned in middle age and I didn’t realise how bad it was until I started on Pulmicort last year. I suddenly had so much more energy!

  3. Hold up.

    Are you actually wheezing when people ask you if you’re okay, or are people doing it even when there’s nothing wrong?

    (Frankly, you could make that clearer.)

    From what I can see, I don’t think this is a big deal, to be honest. It sounds like you’re wheezing and people are concerned.

    I’m only a little bit smaller than you are, and I suffer from severe allergies (which have nothing to do with my weight). People ask me if something’s wrong if I’m wheezing and coughing and sneezing.

    It’s what – nice – people do. My SO is tiny and asthmatic, and people do it for her.

    • I thought it was pretty clear that she was actually wheezing. I would think that it was a big deal if I had asthma and was wheezing, since that would indicate I didn’t have it under control.

      Liz, it sounds like you think L400lbs is saying these people are rude? My impression was that she was saying it was embarrassing to have people giving you looks of deep concern. Plus I don’t really want my coworkers to think I can’t take proper care of myself. That would make me worried that they’d start questioning my competence in other areas. L400lbs, correct me if I’m wrong and let me know if I’m overstepping.

      • I suppose you’re right. I’ve just moved jobs, to get away from a terribly bullying workplace, so the thought of people asking me if I’m okay when I have my allergies makes me feel warm and fuzzy, not embarrassed.

        But I suppose, if my reference point is mockery (as well as one colleague bringing in weekly bouquets of flowers that she knew made me wheeze) then I might be looking at it from a different perspective.

    • I generally am wheezing and/or short of breath and/or red in the face. I’ve actually been asked if I I’m having chest pain or a heart attack, along with “Are you all right”.

      What really bugs me is that *I* usually do not realize I’m wheezing or short of breath *unless* someone asks me, or until I progress to chest tightness and/or “so tired need to sit down right now”. I would like to have a better sense of self-awareness of where I’m at.

      Well, and I’d also like to not have total strangers offering to call 911. (Big office, so plenty of coworkers I haven’t actually met.)

      • I may be overstepping here… Do you even wheeze when you are have an attack? I don’t always. I often *just* get short of breath, and there is NO wheeze. I have been in the emergency room, at less than 50% of my normal lung capacity, and have had doctors tell me I’m not having an attack because I’m not wheezing. Ugh. So, as much of a pain in the butt it is to remember to chart my peak flow, I have to do it. Perhaps this is something that you do need to do? …or I’m just projecting.

        Sorry you are dealing with an increase in symptoms. Not fun at all. Hope you can get things back under control very soon!

  4. My lungs went first even before the weight gain. In and out constantly of the hospital for asthma even at my smallest weights, allergic to everything and still so, I have so many food allergies it shocks people even now and am allergic to several classes of antibiotics. I believe if I could breathe normal, then my weight issues would have been a lot more controllable. You need to figure out your triggers, did it get more cold where you live? I am housebound due to my lungs during cold and hot weather. I learned I was allergic to potatoes. I also tended to get more STRESSED out when people asked if you were OK, and had many bad public asthma attacks at work and elsewhere that were not too good, in my pre-disability days. I believe I am classified as COPD these days, and no I never smoked. One thing if you do go on a control inhaler–like Advent, etc, they often have steroids and can cause weight gain. I am on one now, I am sure not helping me in that area, but have no choice. Also I believe I am still alive because of Singulair, that drug changed my life and I have been on it more then 10 years. It dropped the number of severe asthma attacks way down.

  5. I have had asthma for a long time and I can absolutely vouch for the importance of having a peak flow meter. If you use it morning and night, track your symptoms and peak flow readings and medicate accordingly, you will be amazed at how much better you feel. For me it makes the difference between a slow hard slog up two flights of stairs and a quick jog up. Priceless.

  6. I know what you mean with the people asking thing. We have an understanding at roller derby where if someone isn’t okay, but they make it clear they don’t want to discuss it, you leave them alone. I worry that instantly “Oh, I can’t keep up because I’m fat” and “Everyone is going to think the fat girl can’t handle it.”

    I hope your asthma gets a bit easier to deal with.

  7. You have my sympathy – much the same had been happening recently within my asthma. What fixed it was changing from Advair Diskus (2x 500/50 a day) to Symbicort 200/6. Very dramatic difference for me, no more wheezing and no more need to use rescue inhalers like Ventolin. My GP commented that a lot of his asthmatic patients notice this difference and said that sometimes you just need to try the different kinds of corticosteroids available to find the one that best works for you. Sometimes if your asthma is especially bad it can be helpful to supplement with oral steroids such as Prednisone -this can be short term to get you over the hump or longer term but lower dose if none of the inhaled steroids work so well.

    (Also, being short of breath, not fixed by asthma meds, can be a symptom of low B12! :/ If I miss an injection it’s one of the first symptoms to pop up.)

  8. Sorry for the double post – but I just wanted to say that no doctor ever prescribed me the short course of prednisone I needed to relieve my sinus issues and kickstart my asthma control – until m current GP. Why? Because steroids cause weight gain and apparently all previous drs though I was fat enough already. So I was miserable for YEARS when there was a simple solution readily available. Luckily my new doc realized that being abl to breathe comfortably was a priority over preventing a couple of kilos of weight gain. Grr. Rant over.

  9. My asthma is triggered by a few different things, cold being one of them. Fortunately I haven’t felt very short of breath this winter but I have been coughing like crazy–this annoying dry hack that just won’t stop. I ended up with a nasty subconjunctival hemorrhage from coughing so much. (The blood vessels in the white of the eye ruptured and it looks like someone punched me.)
    I can sympathize because of course when one is fat, everyone looks at us like any health problem we have is because of being fat, not realizing that it’s more than slightly possible that the two issues have nothing to do with each other.
    I remember there was a time last year when I was setting up for the (horrible) 9 Health Fair with my fellow nursing students and I had a really sour stomach. A Sprite would have helped but I didn’t get one because I knew they’d look at me and think SEE, THAT’S WHY SHE’S FAT, SHE DRINKS SODA! Never mind that I rarely drank soda, and most of them were sitting there eating McDonald’s–one was even drinking straight from a 2 liter Mountain Dew. But this was okay because THEY weren’t fat.
    Double standard, anyone?

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