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Monday, October 20, 2008

Even an imperfect patient can be a gallant

As an RT, sometimes I get the feeling that some people in the medical profession expect their patients to be perfect, as the gallant asthmatic is the perfect asthmatic.

Yet we all know that no patient is perfect. Hey, we all forget to take our medications from time to time as we get trapped in the daily swing of life.

So, that in mind, just because you are not a perfect patient does not necessarily make you a goofus. While the ideal gallant is the quintessential perfect patient, there is yet hope that you too could be a gallant.

That in mind, all you lungers and chronic patients click here and I will morph you on over to my asthma blog over at

Being the Best Asthma Patient You Can Be
by Rick Frea Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gallant and Goofus Asthmatics lie at the opposite ends of the spectrum. While a gallant asthmatic does everything right, the Goofus seems to do nothing right at all.

While a few asthmatics are true Goofuses, it is my humble opinion that the majority of asthmatics strive to be gallants, but do not quite meet those expectations.

Think about it. To be a true Gallant, you would have to do everything your doctor says to a tee, including NEVER missing a dose of your medicine and always using a spacer.
Not only that, the true gallant would never go someplace where there are things that might irritate his asthma, like smoky bars, a home with pets, or his friend's cabin in the woods.

Likewise, the true gallant would never have to wait for his wife to tell him to go to the emergency room -- he'd make that decision himself before his wife even had time to be concerned.

While it was fun telling you the story of Jake Gallant, we know he is a rare breed. Like Superman and Batman, he sounds really cool, but he is a character who only exists in the comic world.

That said, you can consider yourself a gallant asthmatic so long as you make a "Gallant" effort at being the best asthmatic you can possibly be. In reality, you can still be a gallant asthmatic even though you are flawed.

Personally, I know many asthmatics who are gallant/martyrs. That is, they try to take all their meds the right way, but when they get sick they need someone to tell them to go to the ER.

Just to provide an example here, I had a patient this week who was admitted with an exacerbation of asthma. Her name was Mrs. J.

She said, "I started feeling asthma symptoms three days ago, and I thought I could manage it on my own at home. Plus I didn't want to be a bother."

Sure, right now you think that if you couldn't breathe the decision to go to the ER would be easy. But when you are in that situation, you start to doubt yourself. "Am I really that bad? Oh, man, I really don't want to go to the ER. Maybe I'll get better if I just wait it out."

A gallant would never do this. A normal asthmatic (like many of us) would.

Some asthmatics are gallants/hard-luck asthmatics because even while they take all their meds as prescribed, they still end up admitted to the hospital from time to time.

Say all the other guys are going to hunting camp and you just want to be one of the guys. You know the campfire smoke irritates your asthma, and so does the musty cabin. But you still want to go.
The true gallant would stay home. A normal asthmatic would decide to be one of the guys, so long as he was feeling good.

A normal asthmatic may forget to blow into his peak flow meter every day. He may also decide it's simply too much work to keep an asthma diary.

For the record, the Gallant Asthmatic I described in a previous post is the ideal standard for every asthmatic to strive for. While it is not possible to be perfect, a person can consider one's self a gallant so long as he or she strives to be the best asthmatic he can be.

It's normal to want to sweep your own leaves, repair your own house, or clean your own garage. Heck, I'm a gallant and I do all of these things. No asthmatic wants to live in a bubble.

And besides, the goal of taking your preventative medicines in the first place is to allow you to live normal lives, which is something that most "normal" asthmatics should be able to accomplish.

I highly doubt any asthmatic is a true Goofus either. When I was a kid I used to take my medicine, until I was feeling good and got busy with other things. I really wasn't a Goofus asthmatic, but a kid who just wanted to be normal.

Chances are you are a normal asthmatic too who just wants to live a normal life. So long as you are making a gallant effort, you can still consider yourself a gallant asthmatic.

1 comment:

Mad Asthmatic said...

yep - even asthmatics are human and prone to lapses of memory - more so because of those lovely steroids - lol :)