The A-Ha Asthma Moment That Helped Lynn Take Back Control

The Next Breath Editorial Team

November 2019

11/5/2019 12:00:00 AM

PERSONAL STORIES

UNDERSTANDING SEVERE ASTHMA

Lynn talks about the moment when she realized her asthma was uncontrolled and she needed to make a change.

Sometimes it takes a shock – an intense asthma attack or an honest, informed conversation with a doctor – for a person living with asthma to fully understand the severity of his or her disease. We asked Lynn, who has lived with severe asthma for decades, to share her “a-ha” asthma moment and how she ultimately took back control.

Lynn had her first asthma attack 28 years ago and was prescribed an inhaler, which controlled her condition for years. Then about six years ago, Lynn noticed that things had gotten worse. Her breathing was becoming increasingly difficult, which made everyday tasks at home and work more exhausting.

Lynn thought her asthma symptoms were normal. It wasn’t until a visit to her respirologist’s office that she found out her persistent symptoms were the result of “uncontrolled” asthma.

"I had never heard that term before, and I had certainly never heard it pertaining to myself," Lynn recalled. "I was desperate. What do we do at that point? If it's not controlled, does it mean it can never be controlled? I was very concerned."

Recognizing the Signs of Uncontrolled Asthma

When Lynn's doctor began explaining the signs of uncontrolled severe asthma, Lynn knew that the diagnosis was correct. While her friends and sister-in-law also had asthma, they would only have difficulty breathing during certain times of the year, such as during spring allergy season.

But for Lynn, breathing was challenging every day of the year. She didn't have long periods when her asthma wasn't acting up.

Her symptoms were restricting her everyday activities. For instance, when she was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for her family one year, her wheezing and coughing were so bad that she had to start preparing three days early and could only chop vegetables for 20 minutes before needing a break. By the time Thanksgiving finally came, she couldn't get out of bed to greet her relatives.

Over the years, Lynn has also experienced several intense asthma attacks. During one vacation in Barbados, she was walking on the beach with her daughter when she had trouble breathing.

"That was more frightening than other times when I haven't been able to catch my breath because the oxygen just wasn't going in at all," Lynn said. “The biggest fear is that I’ll have an attack someday and won’t be able to catch my breath and I’ll be in a place where nobody will know what to do.”

Taking Back Control

While Lynn felt like her entire world was flipped upside down when she was diagnosed with uncontrolled asthma, she was determined to take back control and not let her condition defeat her.

There is currently no cure for asthma, but people can find ways to manage the disease with the help of a doctor and the right treatment plan. Lynn began discussing ways to do just that with her respirologist*, who was confident they could work together to establish a treatment plan to control her symptoms.

"It's always upsetting when you realize that you are not going to have a quick fix," Lynn said. "So you have to start thinking about your life and what you can do to make things better."

It's been a long journey since learning that she had uncontrolled asthma, but she feels good about the progress that she and her doctor have made.

"Nowadays, I go to the gym, I can travel – I love to travel – I have a really full life, including socializing and having a lot of fun," Lynn explained. "My asthma has gotten much, much better."

If Lynn’s story resembles your experience with asthma, talk with your doctor about steps you can take to have better asthma control. To learn more about questions you should ask yourself, read the Rethink Your Asthma magazine, Understanding Asthma Control.

  1. *Note: A respirologist, also called a pulmonologist, is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases, such as asthma.

Date of approval: August 2020 | MAT-GLB-2001611

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Moving the future of asthma forward, together

Working together, we can bring more awareness to severe asthma,
illuminate the latest science and empower people to take action
to strive for better asthma control.

Start using your next breath today to inspire others to get informed and
check back soon to find more ways to get involved.

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