How I Grew to Hate and (Somewhat) Love Asthma

I’ve had asthma my whole life.

I might have inherited it since my grandfather had it too, so when my family found out I had it, they were very careful with me. Participating in spelling bees meant carrying a small dry-erase board and dry-erase markers, and sitting at a considerable distance away from other competitors. Attending PE class meant sitting at the sidelines, tapping away on my sister’s VTech while watching my classmates play ball or skip rope; and sportsfests were opportunities for me to host and not to play sports.

I hate(d) asthma because it held me back from a lot of things. Growing up with it pretty much sucks if you were as curious as I was. I wasn’t allowed to run, wasn’t allowed to play too much, and wasn’t allowed to use (or even go near) chalkboards. I had to know what my medicines were and how to use the nebulizer. Thankfully, doctors and hospitals weren’t as scary for a kid like me, and getting confined was pretty rare. My first was a month before I hit the age of nine, which sent us practically flying in and out of three hospitals across two cities in one night. The next one came twelve years later, on the Christmas of 2011.

I hate(d) asthma because it tore a hole through my family’s pocket. Every attack had to be fended off by a lot of medicines, which aren’t really dirt cheap. Doctor’s fees and hospital costs weren’t, either. The money my family could have used somewhere else were selflessly spent buying tablets, syrups, capsules, and nebules that I had to take to keep me breathing.

I hate(d) asthma because it opened my eyes to the concept of death. I remember sitting in our apartment one day, crying, asking my sister if any of them (especially my mother) would still be alive if I was old. I remember lying in bed one night trying to hold my breath for as long as I could, imagining what it would be like without it. Living with it gave me the notion that I would live shorter than anyone else, and that I should be very careful with what I do everyday.

As time went by, I learned to manage it. I can now eat chicken, shrimp, and crab (in moderation, that is), use a chalkboard, and even run on the treadmill. I now knew that a simple cold can turn into a full-blown asthma attack, and that a person does need daily physical activity. And I realized that although managing it is a lifetime’s worth of work for me, this sickness that I grew to hate was also becoming something that I slightly love.

I somewhat love(d) asthma because it led me to other things. I loved books even more, got better at drawing, and got over my fear of needles and doctors. Apart from that, I became more conscious with my myself as I try to maintain a good weight that doesn’t stress my heart or lungs (this reminds me that I should actually lose the extra weight I gained over the holidays!).

I somewhat love(d) asthma because it reminded me of how much I am loved. We weren’t very well off at the onset of my life, but my mother was always on-call and on-guard. We didn’t have a car back then (aside from the van my grandfather drove for work, which wasn’t always available because he was at work), so there were times she would have to carry me on her back to take me to the doctor or the hospital. On the other hand, my sister patiently stood watch during my confinement in 2011, taking days off work. Having asthma concretely showed me how I am completely and selflessly loved, and that — although it would sometimes translate to worry or anger — they always had my best interests in mind.

I somewhat love(d) asthma because it is my first-hand encounter with the brevity of life, reminding me of how to live it. Life is incredibly short — and that shortness shouldn’t make it less incredible. It may sound cliché, but this is why you should make the most out of it. Travel, see the world, change careers, make friends and keep them for as long as you can, and do what you love most.

Lastly, I somewhat love(d) asthma because it reminds me that my life is not my own. I became more aware that I have no hold over my life whatsoever. I could leap from this world to the next at the blink of an eye, and not be able to do anything about it. This is one of the things where I hold on to my faith in God, knowing that we are all ultimately sentenced to die… yet all given a chance to live with Him after. Because shouldn’t you fear God when you have been sentenced to die? And shouldn’t you love God more when you have been saved to live?

Looking at both sides of the coin is a choice no one else made for me, and doing so revealed a lot of things about me and changed how I looked at life; and this probably plays the same way for anything else. In the end, how you let circumstances affect, mold, or make you is entirely up to you. You could choose to ignore it, let it tear you down, or embrace it as it changes you for the better. It’s all up to you.

But oh, how I hope and pray you embrace it — and rise above it.
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