Asthma attack-it's still embarrassing to me at work

Hi guys,

I'm doing really well actually (knock on wood). My arthritis is being well treated and I can finally do a bit more. I'm working on adding more exercise, which is a super slow process but generally worth it. I don't have to see my cardiologist for a year. Yeah! That's a huge accomplishment. I will need a new pacemaker battery this year, but my heart is using it only 3.5%, which is a huge drop, which is both a good sign, and mean my battery will last longer.

Anyways, so I'm having asthma/sinus issues again (as expected). My doctors kept telling me not to be so negative about Fall, but I always get it in Fall! I have a pulmonologist appointment today. I also have a new job, so it's a bit embarrassing. By now I think I've told about 5 people that I use a neb. when I need it, and they will see me using it at work (you know and that it is to take my regular meds etc.) They've been pretty good, although I had to take a note to employee health, as they didn't know what to do with it in my department. EH was actually really nice about it, and said if I needed space to do it I could use their office. Oh, and that she rather I use it than miss days of work. It was nice someone actually got it.

I mean, it's all about breathing really. I also keep getting this random chest pain at work, pretty much standing near any client that smaokes. It's pretty maddening as I'm sitting there trying not to cough which is pretty uncomfortable, but my client is the trigger! Grrr. I also sat through an 1 1/2 long meeting next to my supervisor yesterday trying not to cough.

All the best,


5 Replies

  • Hi BeeThere,

    I'm glad things are good for you at the moment. I don't think for some of us that embarrassment goes away at work. I am only comfortable taking my inhaler in front of family and friends. I am getting used to taking it in front of strangers eg in a cafe, along the street or in shops. Well done you sharing it with your new colleagues though.

    I don't know how you cope with people smoking around you at work! We are lucky over here in the UK that it is not allowed anymore. Cigarette smoke and perfume/chemical smells always give me pain in my chest as well as extreme shortness of breath immediately. I just assume it is because it is getting deep into our lungs in the first inhalation and so is affecting all of our airways.

    I hope your appt went well today :-)

  • Thanks JF! Positive feedback is helpful :). It's nice to know though that for others the embarrassment doesn't go away. I mean, I think I'm well adjusted! But it's still a vulnerable thing for me to share, and I feel self conscious at work.

    So good news! I went to my pulmmonologist. This is the one who is always saying technically I don't have asthma. Well I guess he changed his mind. Well that, and I had three examples of when my allergies seemed to trigger things. A few weeks ago I was sick all week, but being home for about 12 hrs. on the weekend, in my apartment, with filtered and clean air, and I was completely fine for the whole weekend. I also told him about people at work who trigger the problem, and that I went for a walk in the woods the other day (I know but I LOVE Fall), and how I've been sick since.

    So it was a terrific appointment also because he listened and gave me great advice on when to use which med, but also because he actually upped my meds. I know that sounds weird. But basically, I'm on fluticasone, 3 puffs twice daily as it is my allergy season. Well he said it would be O.K. to go down to 2 puffs after all the leaves have fallen off the trees, but he also said if I feel bad (but not awful), I should up this to 4 puffs twice a day for a few weeks, then taper slowly. But then he also gave me a prescription for pred., that I get to decide when I need it. He gave me some guidelines of course, but I'm really happy about it, because hopefully it will end this awful ""do I call the doctor? Do I go to the ER? Am I better, or worse??"" agony in my head. This way if I'm at work and things aren't going well, and my peak flow is down, I can start the meds. and hopefully get better faster. He said oral pred. is better if I feel worse because it works much faster, but luckily if it works in a few days, I only have to take it for 2-3 days.

    So anyways, I feel as if I've been given my license to live freely :). There are also certain things at work and in my personal life I feel like I can be more reliable if I have these extra tools I can use when I'm having symptoms.


  • Yay! Seems like good news in general. I know how you feel about the 'what do I do?' issue and wanting a plan. I still haven't got a plan because when I raise it I tend to get told that a) my asthma is well controlled and b) I've not needed hospital so I don't need a plan. I'm not 100% convinced by a) and thought that a plan was supposed to help you avoid hospital whether or not you've needed it before! But rant over, sorry...just to say I can appreciate that this must be really helpful and I hope it works and helps with all sorts of things.

    And glad your pulmonologist is listening -always helpful when that happens!

  • It's always so good to hear of appts going well, so many don't!! And it sounds like you are one step closer to being in control of your asthma not it in control of you. Good luck with the fall xx

  • Philomela, That seems odd to me too, that they won't give you a plan. I've always had a plan, it just depends if it's actually useful or not. Actually, what's happened lately, is when I get home from an appointment, I print out an action plan from the American Lung Association, and then update what my doctor told me in the appointment. I will say though, that at times, even the plan seems confusing. But it seems as I use it, and we tweek it, it makes more sense.

    For instance, in Spring I figured I needed pred. So I decided I would call my lung doc, and basically said, if he didn't call me by early evening (5:30 or so), I will go to the hospital to get it. I was bad, but mostly in this bad holding pattern. Well he called me at 7:00 as he was leaving the office, adjusted my meds over the phone, and totally prevented me having to do anything else. So for me, when it's bad, this is a good option. Calling the office and saying, no he really needs to call me.

    I am lucky though, as I have a good doctor who listens. I've had plenty who didn't and it was very bad. And with this specialist it has taken a good 1 1/2 to get to know each other this well. Oh, and my ENT (otolaryngologist) saw me today too as I thought I had a sinus infection. Well I do, so I have antibiotics as part of the deal.


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