Asthma UK community forum

New to Asthma at 52 and phobic about choking!


I have spent 23 years suffering from chronic back pain and it has often been pretty horrendous along my journey through life. However, most of the time I remain positive and indeed would probably say I am a pretty humourous and outgoing person except when the pain really kicks in.

I have a spinal implant stimulator which mostly kills shooting pain going down my legs but my lower back pain could only be controlled by very strong opiate-based drugs, the most recent being the horrible methadone!

However, two weeks ago I underwent a horrible operation to (Honest, I'll get to the point soon, just lokin for some sympathy!), extend the spinal stimulator to help with my lower back pain, now the technology permits. The operation failed and although I was somewhat devastated when told while lying on that theatre table, I started to look towards moving forward.

Then three days post op I found that in the morning I had restricted breathing and was getting dizzy and my legs were failing. I was literally terrified! NHS direct recommended casualty and there I went thinking I would never return home (I was that scared!). That journey of 17 miles was like being driven to the end of my life. I was gasping! Then it would settle and then return again!

I was checked out for a possible heart attack and then the next day scanned for blood clots in my lungs. During the night, I would suffer these attacks and be given oxygen and my oxygen levels were dropping. It really was horrific. I was discharged as I had not had a heart attack and my lungs did not have any clots but I was advised to visit my GP urgently to check my respiratory problems. My GP has told me, following a spirometric test, that I have most likely got Asthma and has given me the two inhalers. They have helped greatly but I can still have this shortage of breath for long periods of time even when I use the reliever.

How bad is this fear? These past two weeks I have suffered excrutiating pain to the point that I had to have a new opiate prescribed (Hydromorphone) which is deemed much stronger than morphine. This cause horrible withdrawals from coming off the methadone, however, none of this wasas horrible as the fear I have when my breathing becomes restricted. I know it will not kill me but the feling of suffication is truely terrifying. (Nearly finished and thanks for sticking with it, you are a star!)

I have experience with phobias through my work, in psychology, but I want to ask those (You, I hope!), who may have direct or even indirect experience of such episodes, ""Do you have any tips for me or personal experiences of resolving this problem?""

I await your replys and am grateful for any ideas no matter how crazy they may be!


2 Replies


It really sounds as though you have had a rough time but with a combination of pain and not being able to catch your breath I think it would be odd if you didn't feel scared!!!!

I hope you can find medication that helps soon but it can definitely take time to find the right combination. Personally I find I am more likely to feel anxious about my asthma at night (especailly if I have had a run of bad nights) or if I am having trouble in a strange place. Things that I find help are - at night to make sure I have a phone in my room just in case I need to use it, it just helps me feel more secure. To repeatedly think to myself that the reliever will work and imagine the panic being pushed out by each use of my inhaler (that probably sounds like strange visualisation but I think you just need to go with whatever helps!) I guess the other thing to remeber is that if you do find that your reliever doesn't help and you need an ambulance - they do arrive pretty quickly and are great and making everything seem manageable very quikly. Do you have an asthma plan yet? If not ask your GP or asthma nurse to write one with you - it will tell you what to do in an attack, how to spot worsening sypmtoms etc and is also another way of feeling like you have control! There are also some really useful resources on the main AUK site and the asthma nurses that you can call (number in red box at top of page) are very frinedly too.

I hope you feel better very soon, take good care!



My GP told me to come back and see him in 4 weeks!


I continue to struggle. Most of the day I have a tight chest and a feeling of breathlessness. It is awful as I mentioned that I have a phobia of sufficating. I know this will not happen but this is truely awful and I am not easily frightened having suffered chronic pain for 23 years now. I feel like I was ent out of my GP's door with my first-time inhalers and left to it!

Any suggestions, Should I be this breathlessness most of the time? I feel a bit useless and pathetic as my GP says it is not life threatening. I do not know what my spirometric readings were but the nurse told me I had the readings expected of a 91 year old. Not good at 52!

All ideas welcome apart from ""Catch yourself on!"" and ""A good kick up the ass is what you need!"".




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