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.

#hawmc two – asthma awareness

I was really, really touched by the responses to my post about the DOC the other day—thank you so much to all who shared the post and commented either via the comments form or on Twitter.

Today, as I really don’t have much time to write a post and because it’s free write day, I’m going to link to my friend Steve’s asthma forums, in which we’re discussing the public’s perceptions of asthma.  If you have asthma, come weigh in.  If you don’t come read and offer us YOUR thoughts – what could WE do to help you learn more about asthma?

blessed

I came to the realization earlier today, once again, of how blessed I am.  I came to this realization when I was freezing cold after the bus didn’t stop at my stop.  I thought of opportunity for grace as I told the bus driver “Thank you, have a nice day!” as I was getting off the bus.  We have frequent opportunities for grace in our lives, and it is something we do not always act gracefully in accepting.

So I live in the coldest city with a population of over 500,000.  And I was freezing my quads off and simultaneously reflecting upon how blessed I am.

I taught an asthma education class to grade eleven biology students this morning at my old school.  Yeah, Mr. T just lets me come in and teach, how awesome is that?  I call the shots—decide what I want them to come away with.  Blessed to have the ability to educate, to speak my mind, to help cure ignorance.  Blessed that I have managed to find whatever good I can out of my own asthma, to help others.  Blessed that I have medicine to help me breathe.  Blessed that I have these kinds of relationships, still, with my high school teachers.  Blessed that they still allow me to channel my energy into my old school, as I spent countless hours doing when I attended through social justice projects.  Education on the overlooked.

apples

I walked into my grade 12 biology/dance teacher’s classroom, and was greeted with a big smile and a hug.  We talked school, and then she decided that I should talk to her class.  So I talked about asthma and wellness and kinese and dance and how they should continue their studies in biology.  And they asked me questions about kinesiology, which was fantastic.  I wish somebody would pay me to travel and teach on wellness and asthma for a job; to meet people; to educate; to cure ignorance.

It was totally impromptu and I just love talking to people.  Mrs. P actually teaches a kin/dance class at another university, and she is just awesome.  She has a parrot at home and adorable rats in her classroom.  She lives on a farm, which is just super cool.  She has chickens.  She had no idea I was coming, but she gave me these

straight from her farm.  I got to bus home and trek through snow with a carton of eggs.  Life on the prairies.

The other day I was asked by another youth mom whose daughter I do inclusion with at youth to do respite care for the family—which is super cool fun stuff like going shopping or to a movie or bowling or whatever.  My other girl’s mom asked me if this was something I would be interested in doing with her daughter awhile back, and I said totally.  I am blessed by all of the pieces falling in line, pieces that will contribute to where I am going in the future with both occupational therapy and asthma education.  Blessed by the amazing girls I get to work with who see the world a little differently—who help me to see the world differently for the better, too.  Blessed by the church, the body of Christ, that is facilitating these things in me, stirring up these passions within me and helping me to LOVE, and use that LOVE to build into what I am growing passion for.

I am in love with kinesiology.  It is SO hard, but it’s awesome.  I am going to have to work my butt off the next three years, but I like learning things that might actually be applicable to my life.  I am blessed to be able to go to school, to have found these communities i fit in, to have a job that works with all that, to have all the stuff in my life.  To have all the people in my life. 

Blessed to have all this love in my life that comes from unexpected places.

These blessings are the everyday . . . things I don’t think of as often as I should.  What are the blessings in your life?  Let me know in the comments.