“To learn to fight to breathe to live, has taught me to fight for what I want…” Eleni shares her #AsthmaStory
When I was three years old, I caught the Measles from a bad cold.
This was 43 years ago and medical attention to such diseases was extremely limited. I ended up with internal scarring on my lungs which left me with chronic asthma.
As a little girl, there was no such thing as Ventolin. Hospitalisation was frequent, including many trips to the emergency department near death from asthma attacks.
By the time I was 9 years old, they had developed Ventolin in liquid form. This was obviously helpful but would take much longer to calm my lung muscles than our Ventolin puffer of today. In those days during an attack, it was “keep warm, drink warm water and try to relax” – a bit hard to do when you feel like the world is getting darker and your lungs are collapsing.
Growing up was hard as many people did not really understand asthma and would try to cacoon me in a bubble – wrap me in plastic to protect me from an episode.
I am now 46 years old, a mum of five, and a businesswoman with four businesses. Life is crazy hectic, but I would not have it any other way.
I have suffered pneumonia and bronchial pneumonia many, many times, the worst when I was pregnant which was totally exhausting. When I was 25 years old, I got pleurisy, which was so hard for me. I was sick for six weeks, seeing so many different specialists but they would all put it down to asthma. I knew my body and knew the fire and pain in my chest was not asthma, nor pneumonia – I guess as we get older we need to stand up and tell the doctors what we know about our body (lungs especially), and help them get it right! It took me another two months after diagnosis to get better. For years after I continued to feel this pain in my ribs when it got cold, so I just wish they had listened to me earlier.
But hey, I love my life. I go to the gym three times a week, love to walk, and run long distances in the early mornings down the beach at Cronulla. My hubby and I have travelled so many places both before kids and with our kids. They’re generally summer holidays filled with lots of adventure and activities as I am not a big fan of the cold – I blame that on asthma!
My five children all have asthma, which is unfortunate. I have had many an emergency run in, they have all been in an ambulance, and had hospital stays with an asthma flare-up, croup or pneumonia – all stemming from asthma – have not been an uncommon occurrence in our household.
Monitoring their coughs and their medicine is a daily chore as I have found that being proactive is much more effective than being reactive – the hospital visits have mostly been from them not following through on their medication! But we live and learn!
They all sing, dance, and swim. I am so big on them being active as much as possible – I don’t want them to ever use asthma as an excuse to hold them back from life!
There is a Ventolin in every car, in every bag, in every school office, at every sleep-over or in every holiday suitcase – so as far as I see it, we’re covered!
For me, asthma has taught me tenacity. To learn to fight to breathe to live, has taught me to fight for what I want to achieve in life. My life is full, it’s crazy, its not easy. Some people call me Wonder Woman. I just call myself a Life Warrior – I did not choose to have asthma, but I make a choice about what asthma means to my life and my children’s’ lives.
I won’t ever let it beat me.
Asthma Australia would like to thank Eleni for sharing her asthma story. It is stories like this that give us real insight and truths into the impact asthma has on one’s life. Thank you for sharing your story.