A Conscious Thing

Have you ever let someone else’s words dictate how you act, or react? I have. It’s not even a conscious thing, more of a subtle reflex really.

I denied that I have exercise-induced asthma for years. Partly because I try not to own a condition, like “I have asthma” or “I have ‘whatever’ ”. I don’t want it to define me. But another reason I ignored my asthma was because of what other people have said to me.

I’ve heard asthma described as a fake disease, or one that kids who need attention have. And I’ve heard this more than once, from several people. I wonder why that is? Why do some people decide that a condition is fake or nonsense?

I was diagnosed years ago, as I was having a lot of trouble breathing when I was exercising. I thought I was just out of shape and needed to push through. So I did. But I could never get past it.

Then one day I was at a baby shower for my friend’s daughter. It was a beautiful brunch setting and I was seated next to a close friend of hers, who happened to be a pediatric physician.

We got to chatting about her job and she said she specialized in asthma in children, partly because she had asthma as a child. I mentioned that I was diagnosed with ‘exercise-induced asthma’ but that I thought I probably didn’t really have it.

She just looked at me for a moment and said, “Why do you think that? Didn’t your doctor run tests?” I told her yes, but that I didn’t think it was a ‘real thing’. She chucked and asked me a few questions about my exercise experiences.

I told her I was doing fine, but that I had plateaued with what I could do. I couldn’t get past a certain point because I was out of shape. Her next words of advice changed my life.

She asked if I was prescribed an inhaler and when I said yes, told me exactly what to do and when to use it. She had a way about her that made me trust and believe her. Probably why she makes a great pediatric physician.

So I tried it. John and I had been riding our bikes each Sunday morning to Summerland, which is about 10 miles away. We would stop and have breakfast then ride home.

It always took me over an hour to get there because I would have to stop and catch my breath after every hill.

Ignoring that I had asthma was not a conscious thing   I had to make a conscious decision to accept my asthma

My very first time using my inhaler, we did it in 45 minutes with no stops.

I spent years beating up on myself, thinking if I just worked harder I would be in better shape. I would go on bike rides with friends and pretend I was okay and my lungs weren’t burning because I didn’t want to appear weak.

Now I know better. I’m learning to let other people’s opinions wash past me and affect me less. It’s not always easy, but I’m getting there, now that it’s a conscious thing.

Exercise induced asthma is a real thing
Being able to breathe has made a big difference

Reader Comments

  1. littlemissw

    I can totally understand this. We’ve had similar situations in my family around food and food intolerance. It’s funny what you’re willing to put up with because people might think you’re playing on a ‘fake’ condition.

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Interesting… and I get the food allergy/ intolerance thing too. Wish I didn’t. It seems we are being told be be quiet about our issues – sounds like the 1800’s!

  2. Joana

    Hi Loretta,

    I hope this finds you well. My name is Joana Mangune and I’m an editor at Health Monitor, where we produce magazines, guides and more on several different health conditions. I’m currently working on our asthma magazine and would love to set up an interview with you to learn more about your story and get some inspirational tips. Our magazines are distributed in doctor’s offices across the country, so our hope is that they educate and inform people who are newly diagnosed, or help people who are struggling to manage a condition to find a treatment that works for them (whether it be through lifestyle changes, an all-natural fix or a medication).

    I’m happy to call and do the interview over the phone or communicate via email. Let me know what works best for you and when you’re free to chat. Also, we’d like to publish your photos along with your story.

    Thank you,

    Joana Mangune
    Associate Editor
    Email: joanam@healthmonitor.com

  3. Mary D.

    Interesting. My doctor just prescribed an inhaler for me after years of suffering while walking or doing any strenuous activity. Several years ago, when I was in excellent shape and much, much thinner, I had a stress test and later an EKG that showed no heart problems. Earlier this year, I had pulmonary testing. Apparently exercise induced asthma doesn’t show up but was suggested by the radiologist as a possibility. Since I was a teen, I feel like I am having a heart attack every time I do something strenuous! It will be wonderful if it makes a difference!

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