Regardless of whether you have just been diagnosed with asthma or have lived with it for years, you might find it useful to write your "asthma story." In other words, describe how asthma has impacted your life from the time you first noticed symptoms to the present. This exercise is most useful for people who know they have asthma but do not yet feel they have it under full control.
This exercise forces you to reflect back on what you have experienced so that you can take the next step -- which is to write down your goals and expectations. If you don't have a clear understanding of what problems you've encountered, then you can't really set your goals.
Many people find this exercise to be enlightening because they've never thought that hard about their experiences with asthma. Other people just find it feels good to get a lot of their frustration or emotions off their chest.
Whether you write one paragraph or five pages, here are a few examples to see how other people have handled this exercise. You may recognize some of their experiences as being similar to your own -- or they may be completely different.
- Karen (a veterinarian with pet-related allergies)
- Will, age 9
- Joe, age 23 (had severe asthma as a child)
You may be thinking, "I can't write, so I'll skip this exercise." Well, don't give up so quickly! Here are some questions to stir your memory and get your "creative juices" flowing. If you are a parent, try to answer the questions from your own perspective, then put yourself in their shoes and answer from the child's perspective. You don't have to answer all of them, obviously...
- What is your earliest memory about having asthma? How old were you?
- What caused you to first suspect you had asthma?
- What was the scariest moment, if you had one? Did you ever go to the emergency room?
- How do you feel in the middle of an asthma episode?
- Did you ever have any fears about how asthma would affect your life? Have you ever had to limit your life in any way? What impact has it had on your family?
- Have you ever missed school or work? How often?
- Did you have any trouble getting the answers you wanted? What were your biggest questions? What are your biggest frustrations?
- Was your asthma ever mistaken for something else?
- What treatments have you been given? Were they effective? Did you always follow the recommended treatment plan? If not, why not?
- What have been your major asthma-related successes?
- Are you happy today with how well your asthma is controlled?
Give it a shot. Write your story, then determine your current goals and expectations.
Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by David A. Kaufman, MD, Section Chief, Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Bridgeport Hospital-Yale New Haven Health System, and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (6/1/2010)
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