I remember my first asthma attack pretty well. I was 16 or 17 years old and was sat eating my evening meal with my parents. I suddenly felt a tightness in my chest, I started wheezing pretty badly (which is pretty ironic considering that I rarely wheeze now) and was short of breath. My parents lived pretty close to our GP surgery and so my dad piled me into the car and drove me there. My dad took me through to reception where I was immediately led into a small room. I was given oxygen and a nebuliser and I responded pretty quickly. Following an examination by a doctor I was given a prescription for a couple of inhalers and sent on my way. Things have obviously changed a lot over the years but that was it, no real tests, nothing!
Thinking back I probably had my first real taste of asthma 24 hours earlier while playing tennis, from nowhere I started wheezing badly and struggled to breathe but despite not having any medication I managed to pull myself round and never really thought too much about it until I started struggling again the following day.
An appointment was made for me to see the asthma nurse but apart from that there was little advice or support. This happened almost 30 years ago and so I could go home and check on google to find out more about asthma. My dad had suffered from mild asthma but never had attacks and so everything that I was going through was all new and different. To be fair my 2 inhalers served me well for a couple of years as my ‘asthma’ was pretty well controlled. However over the years I began to suffer from attacks and the hospital admissions began, that is when I finally started to learn about asthma, I had various tests carried out, my asthma confirmed and we tried to sort out what my triggers were. My medication was tweaked and eventually I was given a nebuliser. As I got older the attacks became more frequent and more severe, I was eventually referred to Respiratory consultant and also a couple of years ago I started to visit a Respiratory professor in Sheffield.
As a kid I was very sporty and had no respiratory problems at all, I did get a bit of hay fever but nothing too bad. As already mentioned my dad did suffer from mild asthma but it was never a problem for him. Nobody else in my family had ever suffered from asthma or with allergies.
So I was told I had asthma which was probably more than an observation rather than anything else. I was given no advice, no action plan and no real support. It was only years later that I had any proper tests and diagnosis. I am sure that things have changed since my first attack!