Peachick Diaries: Living with Severe Allergic Asthma.
Peachick Diaries: Living with Severe Allergic Asthma.
There are many words I could use to describe me; I’m sure hubby could add a few too. If I had to pick three though, the three that probably feature most in my life then it would probably be… Mummy… Teacher… Asthmatic. Placed in order of preference, I LOVE being a mummy and I can’t help being a teacher but the last one… I’ll be honest there are a lot of words in my head, none of which appropriate for something I want my kids to read later. Probably because today is not a good day, today being asthmatic is getting in the way of everything else. Today is one of those days where everything just seems dark, today I’m in a pretty bad place and struggling. Today is yet another day I am not at work and I couldn’t pick the kids up from school. Today Elodie is yet again at Nursery because everyone believes she’s better off there than with me.
I have thought long and hard over the years about whether I should write this particular post, well ok not write it but actually publish it. You see I like to think I am quite a positive person, I encourage the Peachicks to see the silver lining in every situation and use every experience (good or bad) to grow. Today I think I may be a teeny, tiny bit of a hypocrit, today silver linings seem hard to find.
Over the last couple of months, asthma has been in the news a fair bit. Warnings over excessive use of reliever inhalers increasing risk of dying, over prescription of inhalers by GP and the general population underestimating the effects asthma can have on your life are also not entirely helpful.
Let me elaborate, I am asthmatic. It is allergy triggered (mainly pollen, legumes & fruits). It is severe. I didn’t always have it. My lungs are ‘normal’ when pregnant or breastfeeding. I find people being ‘helpful’ very irritating… if you ever find me having an asthma attack asking ‘have you taken your inhaler?’ is not a smart move. The reply (in my head) goes along the lines of ‘No, I’m a big fan of playing chicken and wanted to see how close to death I could get and win’. In reality there is no reply I can’t string a sentence together, generally I’m trying to get to my nebuliser. (I’m reeeeaaaalllly sorry if you have been on the receiving end of me in such a situation… I can be a tad stroppy)
There is a funny story about my nebuliser. Well ok it wasn’t funny at the time… My little portable neb looks a bit like one of those electronic cigarettes, just a bit bigger. On a Thursday the W.I uses the village hall where I park my car to pick up the girls from school. Whilst using my nebuliser sitting with Elodie in the car one of the lovely ladies came over and told me in no uncertain terms what she thought of this mother inflicting smoke on my poor baby. Like I said, its funny now.
My history of allergies seems to be a similar story to Alys. I was my mum’s first and she ended up with Pre-eclampsia, I was a sicky baby and she was told to stop breastfeeding immediately. Formula made me worse so I ended up on powdered skimmed milk. I’ve never liked eggs, bananas, chickpeas, lentils or beans and dairy has always been a bit hit and miss. BUT as for my lungs, aside from having a cough that never really went away they were ok until I was a teenager. My lungs apparently decided that they would have a love/hate relationship with my hormones. Some (pregnancy & breastfeeding ones) they love, all the rest they object to… strongly! After wheezing and coughing my way around Paris on a school trip at 13 the GP diagnosed asthma chucked some inhalers at me and basically told me to get on with it.
On the whole steroids do not work for my lungs and neither have they ever, unless the air pollution is high or I have a cold or chest infection. There is ongoing debate about whether it is something in the inhalers or just that steroids is not what my lungs need but I think I have been through most standard Asthma medications, definitely all the inhalers at least. I can’t use aerosol type ones as my lungs take offence to the propellent AND most of the powdered ones have lactose in which if my lungs are grumpy sets them off a treat! Although every Dr I have ever spoken to has catergorically told me that their isn’t enough lactose in a dose to do so.
Currently I am prescribed Seretide, I hate it. It causes joint pain (understatement of the century!), makes me cough and I stockpile weight & water a treat but I have been through the other steroid inhalers. So for 6months of the year I strap up my wrists, say goodbye to half my wardrobe and take it. (Although this morning I had a reaction straight after taking it so I think the hunt for a new steroid inhaler is on!)
Alongside I also take 2 different kinds of anti-histamines, Montelukast tablets and then add steroid tablets, Atrovent Nebules and Ventolin Nebules to my daily routine as necessary. What I take on a daily basis changes throughout the year so that I take the minimum necessary medication at all times. My goal is basically no regular medication which in the abscence of coming into contact with an allergen and little or no pollen in the air I can do no problem. So winter, no cold I take nothing with the occasional anti-histamine chucked in for good measure… Summer its take everything and moan about it (yes I moan, its cheaper than therapy!) but being able to go to work & look after the Peachicks on my own is my priority.
**At this point I am going to point out that this plan is one my doctors/asthma nurse and I have come to over the years, it changes as I need it to and is regularly reviewed by asthma nurse & consultant… it may not be appropriate for you so talk to those medical types looking after you!**
Don’t get me wrong, like everyone in need of longterm medication to be here, I have tantrums and there are times that I have been known to refuse to take anything. Its not clever, it never ends well but sometimes I just can’t face popping another pill. I’m not the best person to give advice as to how to get out of these moods, in these days, like today, I have to have a ‘I woke up may as well get out of bed’ mentality.
My goals for days like those are small, get dressed, make sure the kids are fed and make someone else smile. Apparently sometimes its ok to be selfish, with little people to look after, apparently sometimes you need to be and I’m learning to feel less guilty about looking after myself but its a slow process that I’m not sure everyone around me quite understands. So today I feel awful, today I cried because Elodie is less than 2 miles away and apparently better off with people who keep getting her allergies wrong than curled up on the sofa with me.
I haven’t eaten anything really in a couple of days because I can’t face it. Every asthma attack I have makes me more and more tired so I know I need to eat but as they are triggered by food it seems a bit counter productive. Someone told me once for every hour you struggle with an asthma attack you take a day to get over it. So judging by that I should be well again by June. And I MAY possibly have minor control issues. I said MAY.
Like I said today is not a good day. But tomorrow might not be so bad!
***Most deaths from asthma in the UK are preventable, with the right support & treatment plan. If you feel like noone understands where you are or listens to you, try the Asthma UK support line*. It is answered by a very lovely bunch of at some times ‘passionate’ asthma nurses. OR the online forums – its a place to rant, ask questions or just realise that you are not alone and there are people that understand. Both options are amazing and I wouldn’t be here without them. IF you don’t have an asthma plan, get one. If you don’t ever have an Asthma review with an asthma nurse make one now
Asthma.org.uk – Helpline 0300 222 5800 (open Mon-Fri 9-5)