Community: Real Life

Living with asthma

A post-festival comedown. A lost inhaler. A near death experience.

How long have you been living with asthma?

Since I was a kid. When I was seven I suffered a major attack, and wound up in an oxygen tent for a couple of weeks. The episode weakened my lungs a little, but nowadays that's less likely to happen. Treatment for people with asthma has come on a long way. In fact I probably owe my life to the doctors who treated my last big attack.

Tell us more

It happened last summer, on the way back from Glastonbury. I was skint after the festival, basically, and decided to hitch home with a mate. The first ride we got only took us some of the way. After that, we found ourselves waiting by this busy roadside, where people virtually sped up when they saw us. It was then I started to feel my chest tightening, which I guess was down to the heat and the exhaust fumes. Stupidly, I ignored it. Thinking we'd soon be on the move.

Ten minutes later, I figured it was time to take a hit on the inhaler, and that was when the trouble kicked in. I couldn't find it anywhere. It wasn't in my pockets or my backpack, and must have got dropped when we left the site.

So, did you panic?

In dealing with an asthma attack it's vital that you stay calm. If you freak out you run the risk of hyperventilating. As a result, the muscles that tighten up the bronchial tubes during an attack can contract even more. Despite myself, yes, I did have a bit of a panic.

How about your mate?

He was the one who kept his head. He got me to sit on the bank while he redoubled his efforts to get someone to stop. By then it felt like I was breathing in through a straw. Getting the air out was even harder, especially when you're yelling at someone to get help. He got the message, however, and pretty much stood in the road until a car pulled up. By then, however, I was close to blacking out.

What happened in casualty?

Don't know. I was unconscious when I arrived. At first the doctors thought I'd suffered a collapsed lung, but when I came round they relaxed a little. Using humidified oxygen at the hospital, they got my tubes opened out, but I was still kept under observation for three days.

Lucky escape, then.

Too right. Most of the time I felt weak and useless, wired up to drips and monitors. I'd had a narrow escape, and nowadays I practically wear that inhaler round my neck!

Updated: 26/10/2006

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