I write this post from a rather comfortable, warm hospital bed surrounded a suspect fabric blue curtain with a heavy strange mix of decay and metallic aromas filling the air. I am hooked up to a medical air tank having cycles of medication to help reduce inflammation in my lungs.
When I woke up on the morning of Friday 2nd November 2018 I was extremely uncomfortable and struggling to breathe. I kept coughing up phlegm but couldn’t breathe deep enough to get the power behind my cough to dislodge said phlegm so I was now choking on it because it was blocking my airways and I couldn’t quite shift it. With a lot of sharp blows to my chest and bend over i was free and could gasp for air. The coughing got worst until an Asthma attack insued my breaths were shallow and fast, it felt as though my lungs were stuck together and i only hand a finger nail space to inhale air into. I’m becoming very light headed, hot, my body is constricting, pain fills my chest so I sit down slightly bent forward but trying to sit up to give my lungs room to expand. I try not to panic as I feel no air entering my lungs, in my mind I’m thinking “Fuck this really could be how I go! Grabbing at my chest gasping for air, My baby boy would never know who I was or have any memories of me, Fuck that Shit! I’m his one and only Mumma I gotta calm down and get through this” by this point my partner had called an ambulance so I knew I just needed to make it until they got here even if I passed out when they walked through the door I just had to make it until the paramedics arrived. My lungs felt hot as if lava was filling every inch of them, the feeling spreads more and more with each failed intake of breathe.
I was proud of my partner who is usually a flapper and a panicker as he managed to stay composed and articulate on the phone the whole time.
With thoughts of my son and daughter living without me going through my mind, a life of being Asthma ambassadors raising awareness wherever they go, running races in my name and warning people of the dangers of ill management of your own asthma while a great thing to do is not what I want for my children. I concentrated on being there for them and all the things I had planned for us to do together.
It is literally this that drives everything I do the fear of dying and my son not knowing who I truly am, dying before showing my children what can be achieved if you live your way even if that way is criticised and misunderstood by others.
By the time the ambulance arrived I managed to calm my breathing enough to get air into my lungs, they introduced themselves and put me on a nebulizer which helped but I still had a severe wheeze that wasn’t shifting so they took me to the hospital in the ambulance my daughter came with, my partner went to work and luckily the Bubba was at his grandparents.
I took nothing but my coat, phone and charger as I wasn’t expecting to stay too long I was expecting to be let go a few hours later, how wrong I was.
Now the reason I came to be in this position was because since moving in August I ran out of my inhalers and hadn’t registered with the local doctors yet. I am also allergic to Dust, pollen and cats these all trigger my asthma and since moving there has been building works going on leaving a layer of dust in our house every day I clean it up and come the morning it is back this same dust is being breathed in by myself and aggravating my chest. I made sure we went out during the day walked in the woods often to promote fresh air and lung expansion. I recently started to feel ill but was just trying to make it to pay day so that I could get back on my healthy living because I’m very much nutrient poor right now because I’m not having my bi-daily fruit and veg smoothies and suppliments which made such a difference to my alertness, general well being, hair and nail strength, Asthma, and sleep. I also put being ill down to me needing to adjust to my new night job and lack of sleep but it escalated and I declined quickly blacking out at work and while behind the wheel. It all came to a head on this Wednesday night when I was sent home from work because I was too ill to function. I really appreciated coming home that night and cuddling up to my Bubba who was where I left him in our bed. He woke briefly smiled at me cuddled into me and went back to sleep, it was the perfect end to and crappy day/night.
The paramedics staff were brilliant they made me feel comfortable and talked me through everything they were doing so I knew what was happening all of the time. When we got to Watford General the staff there were fast, effective, friendly and informative. I was fed lunch and dinner although not great I was very appreciative of having food to eat although for dessert they gave me a chocolate eclaire which maybe before my job as a Commis pastry chef at Maitre Choux I would have gobbled up that eclaire and thought hmm that was nice but now use to a higher calibre of pastry I’ve become a choux pastry snob. The hospital eclair was soggy, soft and was not filled at all this is not what an ecleair should be (See images to compare).
Anyway I digress I was put on rounds of nebulization to open up my airways and remove the wheeze but the wheeze wasn’t shifting. They decided to keep me in for a further 24 hours to monitor this wheeze. I had a chest x-ray, blood tests, urine tests and peak flow tests. I was annoyed I didn’t pack a bag to bring with me but i didn’t want to keep the paramedics longer plus I couldn’t breathe for toffee. My daughter regretted rushing out the door without her phone she was so worried about me she just grabbed my charger and jumper and left.
The staff looked after her as much as me they gave her sandwiches and tea so she didn’t go hungry. We talked about this and that the books I was listening too, what the hospital would look like if all ‘immigrants’ went home as there was one white British worker the rest were from all over the world and it was a beautiful sight to have so many different cultures in one room I just wanted to ask everyone about their story and what brought them here as it’s usually something so interesting. Like the people I work with their stories fascinate me how a person could up sticks and leave for a country that they don’t know the language, traditions or culture but do their best to work hard and be great at their job.
Later that evening after a ward change my partner came with food for us all and drink and was pleased I was back to my complaining self as he put it. He was throwing out all the jokes because as he admitted he didn’t want to deal with the reality of the situation which was he was nearly a single parent had the ambulance got stuck in traffic or I had played down my symptoms the outcome most definitely would have been different. While Tyler was there the nurse came and said she needs to give me a blood thinning injection into my belly, instantly I went cold as I was transported back to those early days after the C-section at home when Tyler would inject my belly with the same stuff. In my case it was painful and I wa unable to walk after for a while. It felt like he was injecting acid into me and the whole area would be so tender that I couldn’t move. Not sure if having fibroids made everything worst but i was not happy and a little scared of having this injection again. The nurse took her time and started to shout “breathe breathe breathe” because I was holding my breath which I hadn’t realised. Why did she push it in so slowly it was so painful?! Definitely a great deterrent to having more if I can.
It was nice to have an evening to catch up on some of my coursework, write a couple blogs and get some much needed sleep its a shame I had to nearly die to get it.
Asthma seems to be seen as a nothing illness, people brush it off as breathlessness but in reality it is a very serious incurable condition. According to Asthma UK 5.4 million people in the UK are being treated for Asthma that is 1 in 12 adults have asthma and 1 in 11 children have asthma. 3 people die every day because of asthma attacks and research shows that two thirds of Asthma deaths are preventable.
I know people who have died from Asthma attacks on their way home from a night out or at home watching TV and it’s a very real prospect for me so why do we play down the seriousness of Asthma? Without our lungs we wouldn’t be able to live they are such an intrgral part of keeping us alive yet they don’t seem to get the same status as say heart disease or cancer. Smokers will smoke then take a toot of inhaler like it somehow fixes the damage that they are causing themselves.
I know that the combination of my mismanagement of my Asthma drugs, dust from building works, lack of sleep and working against my circadian rhythms and a chest infection all had a part to play in my situation getting to the point it did and hopefully now with the build next door being on the internal phase there should hopefully be little dust in the house now, I will register with the doctor come Monday and set alarms throughout the year on my phone amd Google calendar to remind me to book an Asthma review, renew my prescription and any other Asthma related tasks. I will continue to walk the dog and baby in the woods as fresh air and exercise always helps hopefully I can build back up to running again because my lungs felt so strong when the dog and I would run together.
I hope this post gave you a little insight into tge effects of Asthma and how serious it actually is and maybe if you are Asthmatic maybe help you to manage your symptoms better or encourage someone else to.
Here are a few links that may help