“I spent my 19th, 20th, and 21st birthdays in a hospital bed… now I’m getting a distinction average at university.” Eloise shares her #AsthmaStory
Hi, I’m Eloise. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was five years old.
As a child, my asthma only flared up occasionally but as I got older it got much worse.
I went from having a trip to the hospital every few years to every month. I always found it very awkward when I had attacks at school, all the staring and questions. I hated having to take my reliever in front of people because I thought it was something to be embarrassed about. I know that most people are very well-meaning and just wanted to help, but I struggled to deal with all the attention.
At school, especially in Physical Education (PE), I would often have to sit out or run slower than everyone else. I quickly noticed that my classmates did not quite understand asthma, there were a few girls who would frequently approach me after PE asking to borrow my reliever! In their eyes, it was just a tool that somehow made you less tired after exercise. I didn’t really mind that much and would often let them take a puff. Something in retrospect, I would obviously never do now.
My asthma got worse as an adult. I spent my 19th, 20th, and 21st birthdays in a hospital bed.
I was diagnosed with Brittle asthma when I was 18 and then a year later, I was diagnosed with Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA). This made my first year living out of home, in a different state, studying at university, pretty unusual.
I wish I could say I took everything in my stride and achieved great success amid repeated doctors’ visits and dozens of hospital trips, but my first few years of University were plagued with a great deal of failure. My health completely ruled my life, I couldn’t sleep, I could barely walk, and I lost interest in a lot of my hobbies and studies.
One of my greatest hurdles was trying to get my peers and university to take my asthma seriously.
I went to see different doctors and was put on a new trial drug to treat Severe Eosinophilic Asthma. For the first time in years, I was able to go a few hours without symptoms and could sleep through the night.
Facing so many failures and struggling with day-to-day life had taken a huge toll on my mental health and I knew that I needed the support of my family and two dogs. So, I decided that I needed to transfer universities and move home.
This ended up being the best decision I could have made and now at 23 with my asthma greatly improved I can proudly say I have managed to maintain a distinction average at university and am currently interviewing for several different internships!
I am still on a great deal of medication and I get the occasional flare-up, but I am miles away from where I used to be.
My advice to someone in a similar position would be to put everything else on the back burner until their health is under control. For me juggling it all wasn’t working, I needed to take a moment to look after myself first. It is important for young people to be empowered and advocate for themselves and their health.
Asthma Australia would like to thank Eloise for sharing her #AsthmaStory and being a voice for people with asthma. It is people like you who by sharing your story, will encourage others to also share theirs and essentially help us to understand at a deep level – your true experiences and how we can best support people with asthma.