Crystal Clear Views

by  Editorial Assistant

I was recently invited to speak at a panel discussion to talk about a scary incident I had with asthma last summer. I almost died because I didnt take care of myself the way I should have.

I spoke at an asthma summit sponsored by the Grand Boulevard Federation on August 22nd and 23rd at Lindblom High School. Other presenters at the event spoke about their concerns about what was triggering asthma attacks in their communities and the reports of increased cases of asthma throughout the city. After hearing the others speak and thinking about my own near-fatal account with asthma, I felt the need to share my story further with the public. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking care of yourself if you are asthmatic.

I have been asthmatic since the age of two. I am no stranger to different medications and have even been hospitalized because of asthma attacks. Last July, I was in Wisconsin visiting someone who lived in a little town of 250 people out in the countryside and forgot my prevention medicine. This type of medicine will help keep your asthma under control and prevent attacks. With the proper use of prevention medicines, asthmatics can feel better and avoid the use of relief medications needed for an actual attack.

As soon as I got to the place where I was staying, I almost immediately felt sick. First, the weather changed and became more humid. Then I over-exerted myself by running around playing with my daughter Jelyssa, her little friend and others.

I started to wheeze and felt shortness of breath. My chest felt tight and I began coughing a lot, which caused me chest pain. This occurred because I didnt have my preventive medicine to stop the attack before it even started, which made it was easier for me to get sick.

I didnt take my symptoms seriously enough to go to the hospital sooner. So, I kept taking my relief medicine thinking I was going to be okay. But since I have the most severe type of asthma, my lungs were not responding to the relief medicine the way they should have if I had taken my preventive medicine first.

After dealing with what felt like an all-day attack, my fingertips started to change color. They took on a purplish tint and so did my face, according to a friend of mine who was with me at the time. My body temperature dropped and I became really cold. I finally told my friend that I needed to go to the hospital and he drove me to another town, since the small town we were in didn’t have a hospital.

In the car, my condition just kept getting worse and I felt like I could not get one good breath. The worse part came when I asked my friend how much longer it would take before we got to the emergency room and he told me to “Hold on. We’re about to turn into the town.”

“Not into the hospital parking lot, just into the town!” I thought to myself. I was panicking. I began thinking about my daughter and what would become of her if I died. Then everything went black. My friend told me later that minutes before arriving at the hospital, my eyes had widened, my mouth dropped and I was blue.

By the time I got to the emergency room, I was not breathing. I later learned that I was pronounced dead on arrival but hospital staff revived me. After I was breathing again and stabilized, the hospital staff was waiting to see if I was going to have any type of brain damage because I had gone a long time without oxygen. I woke up with a doctor’s hand down my throat taking a tube out. I was alive and there was nothing wrong with my brain.

After recuperating for a day, I recovered fully. The hospital staff told me they were surprised at how fast my health improved.That life-threatening experience taught me a crucial lesson. It could have been avoided if I had only taken care of myself better and my health condition more seriously.

“Approximately 20 million Americans have asthma, and death rates from asthma are disproportionately high…The asthma death rate in Chicago has more than doubled in the past twenty years,” according to recent data from the Safer Pest Control Project.

I wrote this in hope that the people caring for loved ones with asthma, and asthma sufferers themselves, will take care. Follow instructions for medication. Know when to call the doctor and what to do when an attack occurs. Most importantly, learn the “triggers.”

Asthma is a respiratory system disease. During an attack, your airways become constricted, inflamed and become lined with more mucus than usual. Stay healthy and be aware of your surroundings. Keep our living spaces clean and most importantly, know and trust yourself. When your body lets you know that it is sick, please listen.

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