When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with asthma. We were in Texas, visiting my late grandmother at the time when it all started. I couldn’t breathe. I won’t lie, asthma sucks. The seasons affect it. Humidity affects it. Stress affects it. It’s an all-around pain in the arse that you just basically deal with. Medicine can, for the most part, keep it at bay and make it manageable, but generally speaking, it’s a lifetime sentence.
I remember my Mom telling me that my Uncle, the only other family member I know of with asthma, was diagnosed with it when he was a kid. The doctor suggested he start exercising and he took up tennis, and with that, away went the asthma. When I was a kid, I was fairly active, playing on the town’s softball league, and I always wished my asthma would go away like his did.
I became reliant enough on the “rescue inhalers” that I kept them everywhere. One on my desk. In my car. In my purse. On my nightstand. And in my pocket. Always. Always in my pocket. Because when I’m short of breath and basically can’t breathe, that’s the only thing to give me relief. Twenty-eight years of that. At any given time, always within arm’s reach, I can hand you four things. My iPod (okay, Nick’s iPod since mine is still lost). My BlackBerry. A tube of Chapstick. And my inhaler.
Over the past 10 months or so, however, there has been a shift. The seasons still change. The humidity is terrible. And stress is always present. But my asthma has gotten better. Less intrusive. Less there. Although all the triggers are still there, I have relied less and less on my rescue inhaler.
So then one day three weeks ago, when I was getting dressed in the morning, I purposely didn’t put it in my pocket. It was a bold move. For the last 15 years, easily, it has always been in my left pocket. I did still keep one in my purse, just in case. But my pocket? Empty. And I didn’t need it all day.
So I tried it again the next day.
It has now been three weeks since I last used my rescue inhaler. It kind of crept up on me. I didn’t plan for it. Didn’t expect to have less of a need for my inhaler. But it is very definitely a nice HUGE benefit to my 2010 Commitment to Me. While tennis worked for my Uncle many, many years ago, my consistent exercise in the form of Zumba, Pilates, Spinning and walking this year has done it for me.
Having had asthma for 28 years now, I never expected to not have to think about it anymore. And truth be told, I do still get short of breath and have occasional difficulty breathing, of course. I don’t think that will ever completely go away. But the more active I am, the longer I stay on this course, the less I have needed to rely on the inhalers. In fact, I don’t use them at all.
The benefits to taking care of you are seemingly immeasurable. Some of the benefits are immediate and very apparent. Losing weight. Gaining confidence. Having more energy. They’re different for everyone. But some of the benefits are sneaky and creep up on you. Out of nowhere. Like me and the inhalers. Do it for you, and the rest just falls into place.
The other day when I was making dinner, Madeline went to the pantry closet and grabbed a photo off of the closet door, tearing quickly out of the kitchen. She refused to give it back and wouldn’t tell me where she put it. The next day, when I went to go back her lunchbox, I found where she put the photo. She had stuck it in her lunchbox so she could keep me with her at lunch. I love that child more and more every minute.