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Monday, February 23, 2009

Yes, there are benefits to having a disease

You might not think of it this way, but having a chronic illness like asthma does have it's benefits. It makes you take a second look at your life and put things you might otherwise take for granted in perspective.

You hear stories like this a lot, the guy who was 52 and all of a sudden was struck by cancer and he turned to God. The miser who was suddenly slammed in the face with his vulnerability and one day wakes up to donate half his money to some charitable cause.

A wile ago I wrote a post about the 5 different types of COPD patients, and one type was the loquacious COPD patient. He's the one who has realized that his lungs are disappearing and he wants to share all his experiences before he dies -- so he talks a lot.

Kids that grow up with chronic diseases have similar dispositions. Like the cystic fibrosis, and on a lighter scale the asthmatic, who learn at an earlier age that they are vulnerable.

A recent post I wrote for lists the seven benefits to having asthma. With all due respect, I think this list can equally be the benefits of any disease or illness.

Sure there is nothing particularly fun about having asthma attacks, or having to take medicine the rest of your life. But there are definitely humbly benefits.

To see what I'm referring to, click here and I'll morph you over to my Asthma Blog.

The seven benefits of having asthma
by Rick Frea Tuesday, January 20, 2009 @

Living through an asthma attack is never fun. The good news is asthma can be controlled, and you can live a normal life with it. That in mind, and since we have to live with it anyway, no point in saying, "Why me?"

Based on my experience from being a lifelong asthmatic, I have discovered seven benefits of having asthma -- and no, I am not referring to using it to get out of gym class or work.

Here are the seven benefits to having asthma:

1. Perspective: When you have your breath taken away and then get it back, you never take breathing for granted again. At the same time you develop a view of life unique from people that have never had a health issue. You value every moment you are on this planet. You appreciate all the little things that others may take for granted, and that you may have taken for granted before you were diagnosed with asthma. In a sense, you have developed a new feeling of
vulnerability that leads you to taking extra time to smell the roses.

2. Vulnerability: Anytime a person gets sick and has to spend time in a hospital he or she develops a sense that you are not invincible. You might not think of this as something good, but it is once you realize most people -- especially young people -- have no sense of vulnerability, they think they will live forever regardless of their actions.

Once you know you are capable of being knocked down by your actions, you learn to take care of your body in ways others do not. I know of many asthmatics who said, "I quit smoking the moment I was carted into the ER", or "I'm going to take my meds the way my doctor wants me to for now on."

This sense alone is the one reason, I think, that leads one to wanting to live a healthier life (a
gallant asthmatic anyone?) and forming a closer bond with God perhaps.

3. Religiosity: Of course this doesn't always happen, but when a person is left breathless (helpless) for any amount of time a call to a greater power often occurs. Particularly when one's prayer is answered one participates in a form of retrospection that leads one to appreciate that life is not always in our own control. This tends to lead us to a greater sense of empathy.

4. Empathy: There is some truth to the statement that "Nobody has empathy for an asthmatic unless they have had an asthma attack or lived with someone who suffered with it." Well, since you have it and you have suffered once or twice with breathing trouble, you will forever have an understanding of any person who can't catch his or her breath. In a sense, you have doubled your asthma wisdom.

5. Intelligence: You were unable to spend time camping with your friends or family, or you were unable to visit yoru brother Bart because he has 21 cats and 17 dogs, and therefore were forced to stay inside your home and entertain yourself. You didn't pity yourself. You didn't say, "Why me?" Instead you entertained yourself by thinking, rationalizing, philosophising and, yes, reading.

First you become an asthma expert by reading about your illness (in the process of becoming a
gallant asthmatic one would hope), then you morph into other areas of interest, like politics, history and sports.

Years later your best friend may jokingly note that you are the smartest of all his friends (and it will be true all because you had asthma). And you will have this desire to share your new wisdom too.

6. Sharing: Many people who feel vulnerable (see above), who have lived through a life threatening moment of which an asthma attack is, have this enduring desire to share their experience with others. They will also have a desire to share the wisdom they have learned as a result.

A perfect example of this is myself, hence my writings here at One of the first things I ever learned about asthma is the importance of keeping your home clean and allergy free.

7. Cleanliness: You've learned what can cause an asthma attack, and now you have a desire to prevent that from happening again, so you take that extra step to keep your house clean from asthma irritents.

Many of you get rid of carpets, clean and vacuum your homes excessively, even under your beds and livingroom furniture. You get rid of plants and animals. And, definitely, you wash your own clothes and shower daily to get rid of irritants that might be lingering on your body at the end of the day. You may even place covers over your mattress and pillows.

You are not obsessed, but after a few allergic/asthma attacks you can sniff an allergen as soon as you walk into a house -- but not your own because it's allergy free (or am I the only asthmatic with that power?).

Well, there you have it. While you may not have thought asthma could improve your life, now you know it can. So long as you find a good doctor, educate yourself, and have a great asthma management plan, you too can reap the benefits of asthma.

1 comment:

Steve said...

How about asthmatics who blog about their disease.

Not sure which category I would fall into ;-)