The furtive asthmatic: the secret puffer
If I'm feeling short of breath when there's people around, I pretend to be fine. I remember many times in high school, way back in the 1980s to date myself, concentrating on my breathing, watching the hands of the clock, as the teacher lectured. I didn't want to interrupt the class.
No, that's not true. The real reason had nothing to do with interrupting the class, it had to do with me. I didn't want attention. I didn't want to be in the spotlight. I didn't want sympathy. I didn't want to have to talk about myself. I didn't want people feeling sorry for me. I didn't want people to worry about me.
Funny thing is, everyone knew I had asthma. Funny thing is, everyone still knows I have asthma. Yet I'm still a secret puffer. I'm still a furtive asthmatic.
I only use my inhaler in private. It's so much easier that way. It's so much easier because I don't have to explain myself.
I used to think I was the lone secret puffer, that is until I met some really cool asthmatic bloggers who wrote about this same thing. You can't imagine how neat it was to learn that other asthmatics do the same thing. It's also neat the way we asthmatics understand each other, mainly because of the "Wow! You do that too!" moments.
Yet now that I'm an adult it's a little easier to be a furtive asthmatic. Now, of course, my asthma is much better controlled, so the attacks are less frequent and much milder. Yet when they do occur I can easily excuse myself and puff away -- in secret. No questions asked. No sympathy.
I think it's okay to be a secret puffer, although it could pose some problems. Like, what if you are a teenager and you're pretending to be fine when you're not. And you're furtively using your inhaler way too often. And your parents don't know you're doing this, and therefore can't help you.
Well, that used to be me. I bet some adults do this too. If so, yeah, that ain't good. So it's okay to be a furtive asthmatic so long as you still follow your asthma action plan. You do have an asthma action plan, right? If not you can follow this link to learn more.
So it's okay to be a furtive asthmatic, as most of us are. I just want to remind all of you furtive asthmatics out there -- and you know who you are -- to make sure at least one person in the room knows your secret. This could be a teacher, parent or friend.
This person should be someone who knows your asthma triggers, and the signs and symptoms you're having trouble. This person should be willing and able to say, "Hey, you shouldn't be doing that," or "Hey, you need to seek help."
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