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Melanie Z.

Nothing hurts more than being told asthma is a childhood disease, one I should have grown out of. it should never not be taken seriously. Although symptoms may lessen, it is a lifelong disease. And, in my case, has only gotten worse.

The ER knows me by sight, and I'm always triaged without wait to get me breathing again. I've spent innumerable nights in the ICU, I've been intubated, I have a bag prepped to go to the hospital, with comforts like hair ties and a book, just in case this trip will be a long visit. A year for me is often only 10 months long, the other weeks being spent in a hospital bed.

My life is weighing choices and mitigating risks. A campfire is too high a risk, petting a dog isn't. I've quit a good job because the dusty environment triggered severe asthma attacks and cut in person contact with good friends who were smokers.

I'm 33, and asthma has shaped most of that time. But I look forward to the future where more options and treatments become available.

First Published: August 12, 2016

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