Last year I was lying in a hospital bed in an induced coma, my body reliant on a ventilator, all because of an asthma attack. At the start, I didn’t think the attack was that bad. It had a long run in and I was getting advice from my respiratory team at the hospital. But three days later my health deteriorated, the asthma attack escalated and I needed urgent help.
This turned out to be the worst asthma attack I’ve ever had.
Despite this, I was left to deal with the impact of the attack by myself. I was sent home with a discharge letter and a follow up appointment, but nothing else. I’ve had to find ways to process the experience on my own.
I left with more questions that I’ve ever had before, and a fear of it happening again. Why was this attack so bad? What did I do wrong? What happens if my medication doesn’t work properly again?
On top of needing answers to all these questions, I had to try to get on with my life. I’m 33 years old and can’t just hide away, even though that’s all I really wanted to do. I was scared of having another attack and I didn’t want to do anything that might trigger one.
For anyone dealing with a similar situation, I found the following three things helpful, as they gave me a way to process what happened and reduced the fear of living my life as I did before.
One person’s worst attack will be vastly different to another’s. I often hear from people that their attacks aren’t as bad as mine, so they don’t want to share their experiences, but it’s an entirely personal situation. Your worst attack is only as bad as what you know, and this will likely change over time.
Before this attack, my worst one was one that happened when I was alone. It wasn’t as medically severe as the one that led to an induced coma, but being on my own made it much harder to cope with. I couldn’t use my normal coping strategies to get through it. It may well be that you never experience one as severe as mine, but that doesn’t make your experience any less valid.
Write it down
Blogging helped me deal with my attack and come out the other side. I was able to put into words what I remembered about it, the lead up to it, how I felt afterwards and all the questions I had about what happened. By doing this, I was able to answer a lot of my own questions and realise that I did everything I could to prevent it. It was just one of those unfortunate events that couldn’t be helped.
Moving on from a severe asthma attack isn’t easy. It took me a while to move through the impact it had on me and get back to the life I had before. Working through my feelings by blogging and finding answers to the many, many questions I had, helped me process what had happened and accept it, as well as reducing my fear about it happening again. It will always be with me, but I know it wasn’t my fault and there isn’t anything I could have done differently to stop it.
UK/MED/20/0181 June 2020