world asthma day 2011

If there’s one day a year to recognize what we have contributed to both our online and offline communities of people living with asthma, it’s today.  If there’s one day to move toward what you want to see different, what you want to tell someone about asthma, to start a movement that continues throughout the year, it’s today.

And while the rest of the world may—may—see asthma highlighted in the media one day a year, those of us who live with asthma know that it can and for many of us IS, every single day.  We know that it involves more than the blue inhaler and more than seeing your doctor once in awhile.  This shit is every single day.

This coming year, I hope to be more and more involved in advocacy in my own community.  I hope to talk to more people, meet more people, I hope to share more.

This coming year, I hope that things change.  I hope that people realize that having ANY problems breathing is not okay.  I hope that more people realize that if we want anything TO change, WE have to be the change.  We can’t change how our lungs work, but we change and educate people on their perceptions of people with asthma of any kind – intermittent to severe.

I have friends on every part of the asthma spectrum—because nobody’s asthma is really the same, it should be considered a spectrum disease; that needs to be realized too. 

To depict this–my friend Elisheva is committed to managing her asthma and being active, and has reached a point in her life where she has basically mastered controlling her asthma on as-needed Symbicort and Ventolin.  She keeps on top of her asthma when it DOES flare up so that she doesn’t break her neb treatment free streak.  She’s also the master of the World Asthma Day party; gathering her friends with asthma at her home in Israel to have some fun on World Asthma Day (and she makes cool cakes!).

And on the opposite side of the spectrum, meet my friend Steve from California.  Steve works incredibly hard day-in and day-out to keep on top of his asthma.  He takes medication multiple times a day, is involved in advocacy and research studies, helps other asthma patients with his experience both as a patient himself and a Respiratory Therapist . . . and still continuously has asthma symptoms.  Does it stop him though?  Of course not.  Two weeks ago, Steve completed his third Boston Marathon.  And because asthma is a shitty, no-holds-barred disease, he’s spent the last week in the hospital because of his asthma.

And there are those of us somewhere in the middle.  Those of us who have very different stories, but still fight this stupid disease every day.  I take three or four medications specifically for my asthma every single day, amounting from anywhere from 12 to 20+ puffs of an inhaler every single day so that I feel okay.

What else can you do?

The easiest and MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do for World Asthma Day is to talk to somebody.  TELL them it’s World Asthma Day.  Share YOUR story.  Let them know that asthma is serious, that asthma awareness is important, and asthma is something we live with every single day.

Remember that WE can create change.  We may not all be researchers that can cure this disease someday, but we can support each other, share with each other, and advocate for each other.

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