Annelie on asthma, humor, and the world.

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“The Spoon Theory” on Asthma

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Today I read a blog that made a big impression on me. The Spoon Theory was so cleaver written. It is about a girl who got something called Lupus. This theory of hers is actually applicable to asthma too. One have to change the point a bit but it nicely explains the strains living with asthma.

Everyone has heard about asthma but if you have never experienced it yourself you are not likely to understand what it is like to live with it, and friends need to understand what it is like to be fully able to be considerate enough to brighten your day.

The Spoon Theory on Asthma

What does it feel like? What is it like being sick? Not physically but in other ways in the ordinary life.

You get a bunch of spoons in your hand. Those are your health this day.

“I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted. Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case my illness, being in control.”

This is very applicable to asthma. For a person with Lupus you lose energy for every little thing you do. If we translate this to asthma every little thing you get exposed to that make your asthma react will take a way one spoon from your daily health.

“She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become? I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting.”

One spoon is one part of your health, the possibility to breathe. What takes away the spoons when you have asthma is the allergens and irritants you get exposed to through the day. You start your morning with taking your medicine and you go off to meet the rest of the world. In my case I am an all year asthmatic. What does this mean? Is there any half-year asthmatic? No not really, but some having asthma got seasonal problems like with pollen. I and others have asthma to things that is all year.

Chemicals you meet all year everywhere. They are hard to avoid since you find them on people using them for beauty treatment, smelling nicely, washing and cleaning a.s.o.

If I am lucky I start my day with a hundred spoons, like in 100% ok this day, but very often I wake up with a goose nesting in my lungs and it needs to be cleared out with inhalation medicine and pills. In such days I start with about 70-80 spoons.

I leave for work, or other duties, fun and pleasures, and meet hundreds of allergens and irritants a day. For every allergen and irritant I get exposed to I lose a spoon.  I loose breathing ability. And note that the allergens and irritants are on most people using fragrance, fragrance products, smoking, and also when cleaning and washing clothes and buildings a.s.o. It is everywhere, also in the everyday air cause of fragrance, exhaust, scented candles, air-fresheners, road dust, and much more in addition to all what people wear and use. And at party’s and holiday’s there are even more of it since people tend to bathe in it, to in their minds make themselves more attractive. What they actually do is make themselves unattractive to people like me.

So without taking medicines I lose a spoon every time I get exposed to any of this. And every time I lose a spoon I get breathing problems. If I continue loosing my spoons the breathing continuously get worse throughout the day.

To help the situation I take medicine to get better throughout the day. This can give me a spoon back for a while, but only until I get exposed to allergens and irritants the next time, then it starts over again. If exposure to allergens and irritants get too much to handle then hopefully I can manage it myself by using medicine I have gotten from the pulmonary clinic at the hospital. If not I get a massive asthma attack and need to go to the hospital for help. I always need to save spoons so I do not run out of them, so I can avoid a big asthma attack. However medicine has its limits. It is only allowed to take so much of it before one get side-effects from it, and those side-effects are scary and take away a spoon too. When overusing Ventoline your heart starts ticking really hard and very fast, it is pounding and racing, and you can not take any more of the medicine. Then you start loosing spoons fast.

“I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon.”

Most people do what ever they want without even have to think of doing or not doing it? Or even am I able to do that?

For a person with asthma one has to avoid what make one sick. This actually mean you have to avoid places and situations known to you to make your asthma break out. This can be going to a public toilet because there are air-fresheners and perfumed soap installed, or pass an entrance since people are smoking in front of the door, a smoker breathing on you, a smoker kissing you, avoid go to a restaurant because of burning incense or scented candles and perfumed people there, avoid taking the bus or train since many people are perfumed, get sick from visiting the doctor’s office because the medical personnel is using fragrance products, having to deny sitting with friends in a car or letting friends sit in your car because of fragrance and smoke, avoid places where perfumed products are used, shops, planes a.s.o.

“I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be … dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them.”

Yes, you can deny you got asthma and try to go everywhere anyway. Maybe you manage for a while if you medicate very hard, but the truth is that it will cost you. It will make you end up sick, and all the exposure pile up and build up an asthma attack as time goes. Even not eating three meals a day and sleeping well make one lose a spoon.

“We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, …  She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.”

On a bad day I might have to avoid cooking because of fumes, avoid some people since I know that their homes hold chemicals and stuff I get sick from, I might have to avoid meeting people I know smoke or use perfume and scented products, I might have to avoid going places in all and stay home to restore myself. All to be able to end the day with as many spoons as possible.

“She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse than others; some days I have more spoons than most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.””

Yes, just like this it is like having asthma too. Asthma force you to make changes in your life. One need to think before acting, just doing is something that is in the past. To be able to keep all the spoons to stay healthy one have to think through the actions coming. If I do this do I get sick? If I do that will that make me ill? I have to avoid that! a.s.o.

“Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. … I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, … before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.”

If one do not think it through one has to pay for the denial by getting ill with breathing problems and in worst case a big asthma attack with severe breathing troubles.

Take away one spoon from a person with asthma and you give one breathing problem.

Weather, this days condition, allergens, irritants, is the obstacles in the daily life. Most people got the obstacles on them, or got them in their homes, they are at work, they are at the mall, shops, food stores, public transportations, in the city, by the doors, in public toilets, restaurants, cars and places in form of air fresheners and ash trays, outdoors in form of people smoking a.s.o.

Like the girl who wrote The Spoon Theory, I do not look sick. You can not see on the outside that I got a handicap, asthma, so therefore the best thing you can do for me and others in the same situation is to avoid using fragrance products at all and stop smoking. This will help us stay more healthy so we also can live like you do without having to think of what we can do, at least a bit more.

Asthma makes you only do stuff asthma allows you to do, and avoid what you can not.

Medicines for asthma help keeping the symptoms in check, but it will not cure it. This is important to understand. It is no wonder treatment. The true wonder treatment is to not be exposed to allergens and irritants. Give a spoon and enable to keep a spoon.

Annelie

Source of quotes: The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino.

Author: Annelie

I like canoeing, photographing, friends, movies, food, humor, and going on trips. I dislike rudeness, dishonesty, violence, nastyness, and people not caring for others. I do not drink much, I do not smoke and I do not do drugs. I love friends who are kind to me and stick with me. If you want to give me a gift, the best gift is to stop smoking and stop using fragranced products. Then you give me health and that dear friend, is the best gift a person can get. It is a gift of love. I got asthma and I am hearing disabled.

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