I’ve dealt with asthma since I was at least two years old, and I don’t remember a time in my life before it. Pretty much every day of my life I’ve taken pills, used inhalers, switched on a nebulizer, or made my way to a doctor’s office burdened with wheezes and coughs and what-not. I was hospitalized a few times in my childhood, but it’s been more than a decade since that’s happened.
The doctors told me that there was some chance I would grow out of my asthma, but that didn’t happen. As I grew older, the allergies and asthma decided to stick around, just for the hell of it. Perhaps they felt they would be left behind. Or something. I don’t know. The point is, I did not grow out of my asthma. On the other hand, I didn’t suffer the aggravation of adult-onset asthma. So that’s something, I guess.
Treatment for asthma has certainly changed over the years. I’m old enough to remember a drug called Marax, which was the front-line drug of choice for years. That was about the same time that adrenalin shots were the go-to choice for acute asthma attacks (my mom has memories of me being super hyped up on adrenalin after late night visits to the emergency room). Then for a long time, Theophylline was the drug of choice for maintenance. I asked several doctors what the mechanism behind Theophylline was, and they all gave me the same answer: No one knew, but it probably had something to do with a chemical called ATP, which lives in your cells and provides energy.
But now we live in an age where inhalers, not pills, are the primary defense against asthma. Sure, I’m still taking Singulair, but it’s a tiny thing compared to the huge horse pills of Theophylline and so on that I subsided on as a kid. But it’s primarily Advair and Spiriva these days, both of which look sort of like hockey pucks, and Albuterol for acute attacks. No more Marax. No more adrenalin shots.
One constant through all this is Prednisone, which is an anti-inflammatory steroid drug that is prescribed for a number of different conditions. Throughout high school and college I took 20 milligrams a day, every day. Now Prednisone has side effects: it makes me cranky and depressed, and it makes my appetite skyrocket. I hate it. Yet even now, I still end up having to take it from time to time. It sucks.
Still, I’m fortunate. I have a good insurance plan that lets me afford the drugs I need to keep breathing, and access to good doctors who know how to treat the asthma. For a long time, I didn’t, and I was using Primatine Mist — NOT a recommended alternative for someone with severe chronic asthma — to treat myself, because it was all I could afford. Those were in the days when I did not have insurance.
Which is why I’m personally all in favor of Obamacare, and utterly appalled at any attempt to defund or repeal it. I have insurance now through where I work, but I know several asthmatics who only have access to doctors and medication BECAUSE of the ACA. Getting rid of it would not only be appalling, but downright immoral, in my opinion.
Anyway. That’s my lungs. That’s my post for today.
This long-winded wheeze brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Cough. Cough. Hack. Wheeze. Etc.