Confessions of an asthmatic in denial

by John Bottrell Health Professional

One thing we really need to do as asthmatics is take our disease seriously. If you are diagnosed with it and your doctor prescribes preventative medicines, you should take them exactly as prescribed even when you are feeling well.

Yet, since we asthmatics are humans who just want to be normal like everyone else, some of us get caught in the trap of denial. It's very easy to do.

And, far too often, this results in learning a difficult lesson the hard way.

That's exactly what happened with my friend Jen, who admitted to me months ago she was a Sometimer Asthmatic.

In fact, she even gloated about it. What follows is Jen's confession (with her permission of course):

"I don't have asthma symptoms very often, only sometimes. I guess you can say I'm a sometimer asthmatic: Sometimes I have symptoms, and most of the time I don't. And even when I do they are very, very mild.

"I did have asthma when I was a kid, and it was never really that bad back then either; the attacks were mild and spread far apart.

"I know I have asthma, but I guess you can say I'm just an asthmatic in denial. Therefore, I don't take any medicine -- not even the preventative medicine my doctor prescribed. I don't want to have any more chemicals in my system than I need to.

"I used to be on Singulair for my allergies too, but I don't even take that anymore. I just don't need it. I don't even carry my rescue inhaler with me most of the time.

"I have a cat and a dog, but I'm not going to get rid of my pets. I'd rather have asthma problems than do that. You know, you can't live in a bubble.

"Like I said, I usually don't have problems, but occasionally I do. When I do, I take my inhaler. If it doesn't work right away, I take extra hits.

"The last time I did that, my husband said, 'Maybe you need to take a day off and just take it easy.'

"'No, no, I'll be fine,' I said, 'I just need to wait for my inhaler to take effect.'

"So that night I went to a football game, and I could hear myself wheezing the whole game. My friends noted I was wheezing, and told me I should go home.

"'Nope, I'll be fine,' I said.'"

Ironically, less than a month after I interviewed Jen she came to work with a bad cold, and ended up having to walk down to the ER because she was having trouble breathing.

A week later, I interviewed her again. She told me she was so bad the night she went to the ER she needed several back-to-back breathing treatments before she started feeling better. (Of course this is something that should only be attempted in the ER where a physician is available).

She said she went to her physician the next day and he lectured her. He was not happy that she decided on her own to stop taking Advair and Singulair that were supposed to PREVENT such an attack of asthma.

She ended up needlessly missing six days of work because of an asthma flare up that could easily have been prevented with a simple dose of compliance.

Jen, who helped me create my list of asthma types, insists she is now in the process of conforming to a Gallant Asthmatic.

"Yep," she said, "I'm now on all the right asthma medicines after I was scolded by my doctor. It will take some time getting on the right track, but at least I'm headed in that direction now."

She added, "Other asthmatics can learn from my mistakes. It is NOT a good idea to deny you have asthma just because you aren't having any symptoms. What is a good idea is to listen to your doctor and take the medicines he prescribes."

Jen learned the hard way that it's not a good idea to be an asthmatic in denial. All of us asthmatics can learn from the mistakes of Jen and "TAKE YOUR MEDICINES AS PRESCRIBED."

Are your a Sometimer Asthmatic? Find your Adult Asthma Personality here

John Bottrell
Meet Our Writer
John Bottrell

John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).