Adult onset asthma

I’d never had any breathing difficulties before….being unfit doing cross country at secondary school 27 years ago doesn’t count! I used to do 3 Zumba classes a week and hardly break sweat let alone feel like I couldn’t breathe. Then in 2014 it all changed.

At first I thought it was hay fever . It was Spring and I’d had hay fever the last few years but then I started coughing and it didn’t go away. It was annoying but I got on with it. Then I was out for a walk, one I’d done many times before and I had to stop because I just could not catch my breath. I went back to my GP and was put on several different inhalers. There were further visits and several courses of steroids….I was referred on and the consultant was happy with my breathing and my clear chest x-ray so discharged me. Less than 24 hours later I was back at my GP because my chest was tight….I say my chest, but the tightness I felt in my upper back it was the feeling of being breathless that got me. More steroids and another referral – this time private to get to the bottom if it. As my GP said at the time “most people can get their asthma under control through their GP…but then there’s you.” I knew exactly what he meant….if there’s an awkward way of doing things you can be sure that that’s the way I’ll do it. Why should my breathing be any different!?!

In between my referral and appointment, I experienced the delights of my first ever chest infection. I was sick for the entire month of December 2014. I used to have a bit of a Superwoman complex so tried to struggle on and keep working….cue another chest x-ray, more GP visits, more antibiotics and steroids. This went on till the middle of December when my GP sat me down and asked when I was finishing for Christmas. The 23rd, I replied. “Right, I’m signing you off till then because frankly, you’re not fit to work.” My GP knows me well enough to give it to me straight. He also knows I’m stubborn and determined so he needs to be direct. Some may say blunt, but its what I need.

I saw the consultant in January 2015, was formally diagnosed with asthma and put on a shed load of medication. It was exactly what I needed. I had a further 3 appointments and have reduced the number of medications I need to take. I now get my flu jab annually and by and large am luckily not hugely impacted by my asthma. I have also very slowly realised that I’m actually not Superwoman (who knew!?! Not me anyway!) and go to my GP as soon as I feel that a head cold may be on the move.

Fast forward to November 2018….my first chest infection since December 2014. Gutted. Another chest x-ray. I swear I must have the most x-rayed chest in Ireland at this stage! 2 lots of antibiotics and steroids, that was down to a relapse of my Superwoman complex…my bad. Now its April and I have yet another chest infection. This time I’ve learned my lesson. I went to my GP, am taking my steroids and antibiotic. Given my respiratory history my GP has decided we’ll hit it “hard and heavy.” As for the woman who formerly thought she was Superwoman, I’m resting. Feeling breathless after having a shower and getting dressed is not the norm for me. I’m looking forward to being able to breathe normally again…with the assistance of my asthma meds and the odd puff of my reliever inhaler!

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