As an asthmatic I am regularly told to take things easy, or don’t over do things. I am regularly told by my consultant that I know my asthma better than anyone else (which is true) and that I know what my limits are (which is probably untrue). I am often told by my employer not to go in to work if I am not feeling up to it or if I am not well enough. My respiratory nurse, GP and consultant all tell me that I know at what stage my asthma is so bad that I need hospital treatment. I am often told to be sensible (with my asthma). All of these things are said to me with good intentions but to be honest even though I do know my condition very well, I am experienced and I am pretty sensible with my asthma, do I really know what my limitations are? At what stage does something become a case of over doing it? How unwell do I need to be to take a day off sick or even worse, ring for an ambulance? When does taking things easy actually make things worse because what I need to be doing is making myself get up and go?
Some things are pretty obvious to judge, they can be pretty black or white, some days I know that I aren’t well enough to go to work but then there are those mornings when I get up following a bad night, coughing and with a tight chest, often I improve throughout the day but on other occasions I stay the same or get worse. If I rang in sick every time I wasn’t 100% I would hardly ever be at work.
What are my limits? Should I push myself? To be honest I don’t always know and I don’t always get it right. I also know that if I just lay in bed or sit around the house all day feeling sorry for myself, I would only feel worse, possibly physically and certainly psychologically. Some days I just have accept that the asthma has won but I can’t just let it beat me everyday, I have to fight back and if I end up suffering the odd set back along the way then so be it.
I don’t expect everybody to understand what my life is like, I don’t expect everybody to even want to know what my life is like but please just accept that this asthma that I am battling with everyday, limits me and effects me, as I’ve already said I don’t always get things right and I don’t always judge my limitations right so I can hardly expect other people to know what my limits are. To be honest these limitations change daily, sometimes by the hour or even the minute so don’t try to understand them, just know that they are there. Asthma is often called an invisible illness which it often is, sometimes it is obvious that I am struggling by the symptoms that I display, on other occasions though my symptoms aren’t quite as clear, but trust me, that doesn’t mean that I aren’t struggling. Tight chests and things such as fatigue are things that I suffer with most days but apart from the odd wince of pain that I may display, at first glance I may look ok. It’s when I am struggling with these issues that I find it harder to judge my limitations and take things easier, if those around me don’t think that there is anything wrong with me they can easily begin to think that if I look to be taking things easy that I am just been lazy. Nobody likes to be accused of laziness and so it leaves me with a couple of options, try carrying on and risk over doing things and potentially make myself worse. I can try to tell those around me that I am unwell but often people don’t believe me because I am looking alright. The other option which I is the one I find myself taking more and more is not to care what others think and I just do what my asthma allows. Those who know me, those who are close to me and those who are important to me, understand (or try to). To say that nobody else is important but I try not to let them or their opinions worry me!