Friday, February 12, 2010

Unique Asthma and common sense

I've been lucky all my life to have doctors who pretty much let me do what I want. While I've had pharmacists question my inhaler use in the past, I have never had a doctor tell me to quit using it so much.

Now I'm not saying my doctors aren't concerned, just that I've been fortunate to have doctors that understand that not all asthmatics fit into the "guidelines." Sure most asthmatics shouldn't need to use their rescue inhaler more often than once or twice in a two week period, but some asthmatics -- like me and perhaps you -- need it more often.

I wrote about how I was a bronchodilatoraholic (well, I suppose, once you're a bronchodilatoraholic you always are) once or twice on my other blogs, and I have had people email me to tell me my asthma is out of control if I use it as much as I claim. When, in fact, my asthma is controlled. Thus, rescue inhaler frequency isn't always an indicator of asthma control.

My family members who have seen my asthma first hand (my wife, my mom and dad when I was growing up, my brothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts, coworkers and the like) never question that I'm taking my inhaler. They never say things like, "Golly gee, don't you think you're using that a bit much!"

In fact, my doctors are the same. It's called common sense. Like with any other thing in life, nothing goes according to the plan. You can't go to doctor school expecting every time you have an asthmatic you can give the exact same analysis, the same medicine, and expect the same results. Why? Because in the real world, people have unique asthma

And, thankfully, people in my life, including my doctors, have always had a certain level of common sense not to make me feel uncomfortable about my inhaler overuse, my bronchodilatoraholism. However, I usually don't give them the chance, since puffing was usually done in private.

Today I couldn't care less, but when I was a kid I felt stupid enough using that darn thing. I wrote about it recently on this blog how carrying that thing in my pocket in itself was embarrassing. And, to use it in front of people, only generated looks and questions I didn't want to deal with.

So, understanding that perhaps, my doctor never questioned me. Perhaps the common sense part of his brain understood that Rick Frea has unique asthma. He has asthma that does not fit into the textbook.

And, when you have unique asthma, you need to treat it in a unique way. When you're short of breath, you test that rescue inhaler more often than you should. Then you realize the relief you get from it is worth any side effects that might transpire (Side effects are pretty minimal anyway).

Thankfully, most of the doctors I've had are wise to this fact. Considering I'm the worst asthmatic most of my doctors (minus the doctor's I had at the asthma hospital) ever treated, I often wonder how they obtained such patience with my asthma.

Common sense, people. It comes down to common sense. Either you have it or you don't, because it cannot be taught.


  1. Rick,I knew you went to NJ when you were young, but I had no idea your asthma was so severe. You should consider doing the SARP study in Pittsburgh. Dr Wenzel is looking for an articulate asthmatic to speak at the ATS convention this year in May. If you'r interested in being a study subject for SARP, I can arrange it for you.

  2. PS...I think you have a div tag that's open somewhere. Your blog is displaying funny.

  3. Thanks Steve. I just switched over to firefox (much faster) and for some reason it screwed up my blogs. Thankfully I keep a backup saved for just these occasions.

  4. Actually, I would classify my asthma as mild persistent. However, if I quit taking all my meds I would be severe persistent. According to the asthma guidelines, asthma severity is best measures off meds.

    I could be wrong though. My wife actually believes I'm worse than I think I am. Having lived with this all my life, I might have a tendency to underestimate.