I’ve had asthma since I was three, so I’m used to living with it and coping with asthma attacks, but in 2010 I had a major attack that was completely different. I remember being in the hospital and knowing that the medicines weren’t working, getting more and more terrified, then looking up and seeing a sign saying ‘resuscitation’.
That’s when I was diagnosed with severe asthma. I spent two weeks in hospital and was prescribed various forms of medication to help me manage the condition. Like many people with severe asthma, I have to take oral steroids to avoid being hospitalised every time my symptoms get bad.
The steroids I take have severe side effects – I put on weight and they make me feel anxious and depressed. They even make my mood go up and down, so I have to tell my employers that I’m taking them. Luckily they are very supportive, but in past jobs I’ve struggled with the lack of understanding and sympathy about my condition. Now, if I’m feeling unwell with my asthma my Manager, Paul, encourages me to take time out, use my inhaler and make sure I feel relaxed and happy to start working again. It’s this sort of support that has helped me and now I rarely take time off due to severe asthma.
I work on a voluntary basis in various roles for Asthma UK and the charity has provided me with significant tools and techniques to help me manage my condition. My asthma can be triggered at any time, so I’ve got to know my personal triggers. I try to stay fit and keep to a good diet by regularly attending the gym and eating healthily. I also recognise that stress and anxiety can impact asthma so I practice both meditation and mindfulness which I find helpful.
Without new severe asthma treatments, my GP has no choice but to continue to prescribe oral steroids for my condition. My dream would be that a cure is found for asthma one day – however, I appreciate that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Living with severe asthma is a constant daily challenge. But thanks to my own willpower and the remarkable work of Asthma UK, I’m able to remain positive and focus on managing the condition to the best of my ability. It is thanks to the amazing generosity of supporters that lifesaving research can continue and I would encourage everyone who feels passionate about a cure to take an interest in Asthma UK and join the charity, volunteer and raise funds for the vital work and research that is still required.