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Monday, August 24, 2009

"Coming out of the asthma closet"

I was over at Kerri's blog, "Hold Your Breath to breath," and read a neat article by a guest writer who notes being embarrassed by her asthma, and therefore had a tendency to keep it a secret from everyone around her.

Kerri aptly named the post, "Coming out of the Asthma Closet."

The quest asthmatic, Elisheva from Israel, writes:

" Teachers and other students complaining that my coughing was disrupting the class. A hard time in gym. People thinking I was cutting school cuz I’d miss a week and a half of school for a cold. My friends freaking out and asking if I was ok. I hated using my inhaler in public (still do) and I’d always wait until my friends were begging me to use it already because I was breathing so pathetically they were worried. And then I’d only take it locked in the bathroom when I thought no one was near by. It also didn’t help that I refused to take any preventative inhalers for about 2-3 years because they tasted gross and I refused to allow myself to believe I was actually that sick. I’d end up at the dr every month or so listening to lectures about permanent lung damage and responsible asthma management. By the time I started actually taking the stuff I was prescribed, it turned out it wasn’t strong enough for me anymore. Does anyone else think asthma drugs of the 90’s sucked?"
I find it interesting any asthmatic "comes out of the asthma closet" per se. I suppose all of asthmatics have to have a "coming out" moment at some point. However, now with the Internet, I think it is a lot easier, and people can come out a lot quicker.

When I was a child I was picked on quite a bit. When I was 19 and working at a local A&W Restaurant, I ended up working with one of the girls who used to bully me (yes, girls bullied me too).

We became good friends, and one day she said, "For a kid who got picked on so much, you turned out to be pretty cool."

Later she found out I had asthma. When she learned this, she said, "Now I feel bad for picking on you. I had no idea you were sick."

"Why was it that you picked on me," I asked.

"Because you were always making weird noises, sniffing, sneezing, and you always seemed to have red eyes and were always wiping your nose. So you were an easy target."

She apologized. If she had known I had asthma she never would have picked on me. Yet, feeling as thought I were all alone with the feelings I had regarding my asthma, wanting to hide my inhaler, feeling guilty for missing so much school, it were easier to feel ashamed and to hide.

It wasn't until I met a fellow hardluck asthmatic in RT School that I realized I was not the only one. Now, thanks to the Internet and websites like Kerri's, we asthamtics can share our stories and get the word out that the thoughts you are having are not unique. And you are not a freak.

So don't be ashamed you have asthma. In fact, there's no better time than the present to "come out of the asthma closet."


kerri said...

Hey Rick,
Very cool that you reposted this!
However, Elisheva came up with the title, as well as the content, so I can't take credit for that! :)

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Steve said...

I had asthma for 54 years now, and I'm still embarrassed to use my inhaler in public. Ive become quite an expert in creating a diversion , so that I can sneak a puff.

Elisheva said...

Hey Rick! Oh man it's so cool you quoted me :) Glad to have had an impact. Have a great day!