I grew up a fairly healthy child. I rarely got colds or the flu. I’ve never broken a bone, and other than a few minor incidents, managed to stay out of the hospital. I felt invincible, like I would never get old. I felt like people who were sick a lot or didn’t participate in things due to illness were weak – they just were not trying hard enough.
My first glimpse into chronic illness came when I developed a goiter at age 15. I was terrified as I waited for the biopsy results. My second, third, and forth glimpses all came in a rush 2 months later as my mother, aunt, and grandfather all battled serious illnesses. My compassion grew, but I was still sure that would never be me.
Then, one night, at the age of 23, I had trouble breathing. Then I had another. Three trips to the hospital and one visit to a specialist later I had asthma. I REFUSED to accept it for months. I refused to take medications or proper precautions. I could NOT have a chronic illness. I was scared that it would hold me back; I felt like my life was over.
It took me about 3 years to really come to terms with the fact that I would always have asthma – it wasn’t going away. It took me 5 years to learn to live with it without constantly being terrified that I would be too far away from a hospital and would die if I lived normally. I can happily say I have now found the balance between taking proper precautions and not letting my asthma prevent me from doing the things I want to do. I may never scuba dive, but I’m living harder than I ever did before my diagnosis!