Trauma of ICU

Finally I am able to sit down without getting upset or terrifying myself about my latest hospital admission specifically experience in ICU. The photo below may not look like much and you may think its a window and building but this is what has caused me to much trauma.

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Before anyone reads on please note this is just my feelings from it and my experience. The staff: nurses, support workers, physios and Dr’s were all fantastic and could not do anymore to help me.

This admission has rocked me so much. A lot more than any other has and I hope that I won’t ever get like this again.

There was a series of events I think which led to it all becoming too much once I got back to the ward and I guess basically I just broke down with fear that my asthma will kill me.

The lead up to being admitted was really rapid, as I said in my previous post where I spoke about the admission and how it went broadly speaking. What I didnt speak about was the true mental toll it took on me.

As with any trip to ICU in the back of your mind you know its not good because ICU is the end of the road in terms of hospital care you cant get any more treatment beyond what they an offer. I have been to ICU so many times, I cant even count the number of times I have been admitted there and come out the other end.

Once up in ICU there was the usual battle of trying to get a arterial line in which again failed and we decided to stop short of a cut down thank goodness as this caused me to lose the feeling in my left thumb and part of palm. High flow oxygen running various IV infusions and I had this feeling of being safe. I was in ICU and would be ok. Next came review from the consultant who said if things did settle next step is being intubated and ventilated.  I have had the said to me several times so I didnt think much more about it.

It was not until I came back to the respiratory ward that mentally I really found it tough. After starting to feel much better and access being an issue I was keen to be weaned off some of the infusions I was on. This didnt go to plan and a few hours after I really didnt feel to great so I let them know. Junior drs came to review and were concerned. It was late on in the day and about 7pm my own consultant came round to review me- that in itself freaked me as he was not even on the ward team but he came through. He wanted everything put back to the previous doses, have a whole load of nebulisers and be moved to the high care bay for close observations.

It was the move to the high care bay that brought so much flooding back and I felt that I just couldn’t cope at all. I have been in the high care bay before and never had any issues. I already felt quite on edge because by this point I had been seen by 2 consultants out of hours who came to listen to my chest and see how I was, have all my medications increased again and being moved. The move was what was enough to tip me over the edge. Once moved and settled I looked up and out the window and could see the ICU. The photo from above is below and I have marked where the ICU is.

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The combination of what the consultant said in ICU, and then getting worse on the ward and having consultants review me when they would not normally see you come in to review you and then seeing ICU again and the Dr’s talking about taking you back there was just too much. I think it was also because on the ward I was on the maximum treatment for my chest and just not getting better. The consultant was worried because I had been given 36mg of salbutamol via nebulisers with little effect. Thankfully they kept persevering and my airways did slowly start to open and breathing became easier.

Its fine when you are acutely unwell and everyone is buzzing around you making sure your ok, listening to your chest, giving you nebulisers, doing your observations you dont get much time to think or worry about not being able to breathe. Its once your that bit better and left alone and normally left with the parting words- “rest and try to get some sleep” and the lights go out. That is when it hits you. Still feeling not great and still finding breathing a real challenge sleep is the last thing you are able to do. Its a very strange feeling when you are so exhausted you want to sleep but scared to sleep at the same time. Being in the dark makes everything much worse and I just got so scared. I couldn’t help but break down. I was able to speak to a nurse but they could not offer much as its not like there is a magic pill that makes fear go away and because of my chest not being great they cant give you anything to help you sleep. At night with less staff around at night they don’t have the time to stop and speak to you and make sure your ok. but at that time it was all I wanted. They did then send a nurse practitioner up who was great but even he said that the psychological support at night was awful and as nurses we are not good at dealing with things unless numbers tell us something.

Over the course of that night as my chest came and went some nurses kept coming and saying to me all my numbers were looking better so I am doing ok. I think this is one of the statements I hate more than anything. I don’t care that my numbers may be ok or better I still feel like crap and having good numbers does not help with the crippling fear I am experiencing.

Once morning finally came around I felt really stupid for getting so upset but was able to have a chat with the Dr about it. I knew it was a vicious cycle of being upset, makes my breathing worse, which makes me more upset as I get scared it means going back to ICU but it is so hard to get out of that cycle.

The fear of what happened is still plaguing me. More so than normal. I can rationalise going to ICU and the need for their help but this time is just different and I cant get it all out my head.

I am a week out of hospital now and really feel like I am no further forward than I was day 1 post discharge. Everything feels just as hard. I have no idea why. Part of me wonders is it because of the biologic therapy that is making it harder to recover or has this all taken a much larger toll on me than I expected.

I have clinic next week and I hope to go through everything with my consultant and make sense of it all. I also hope he will have a reason for me feeling so rubbish despite being home from hospital.

I think this whole thing has just highlighted that no matter how many asthma attacks you have, or how many hospital admissions you never know when you will hit breaking point or when you just cant keep fighting.

Passive smoking……what does it mean???

apart from death?

I cannot count the number of posts I have done about smoking, passive smoking, the smoking ban and how it effects my lungs and the lungs of many others like me.

It really hit me the other day after parking my car in the carpark at work and walking the 200m to get into the hospital how many people I had to pass firstly at the pedestrian crossing, then the pavement to get to the narrow walkway to get inside the doors and then the narrow walkway itself and the doors was just like running a gauntlet and taking your life into your hands.

24….thats how many people (patients) I had to pass who were smoking on the short 200m walk. It is sickening to have so many people.

Im not sure those who are smoking really understand just what the effect is on other people as there is no way to liken it to anything else. I can never explain the mental and physical negative effects that it has on me (and Im sure I am not alone in those thoughts).

The fear I have is unreal. I am terrified that this is what may happen AGAIN

Both these photos are from the effects of passive smoke which hit me when I was no expecting it. The first photo was just before going to ICU after spending about 8 hours in resus, getting stable, moved to assessment unit to then get bad and need ICU. The second was taken in ICU after someone smoking below my open window and me having an asthma attack.

The fear of having asthma attacks is like no other. There are theories that you can make someone run up stairs with a close peg on their nose and breathe through a skinny straw to simulate what it is like to not be able to breathe but they can always take the peg off and open their mouth.

In the photos above I was so tired I just wanted to give up and stop fighting but you cant. If you give up you risk being intubated or dying. This is the reality. So many people die from asthma attacks that come from triggers that are out with their control. It feels like you are being punished for something you didnt do. It is more than just the attack itself but the consequences that go with it- being off work, missing holidays, medication that causes side effects, family being so worried about you, family needing to look after you to name a few.

Before the ban on smoking there were visible smoking shelters and it never used to be a risk to just get from your car into a building. I am not saying that everyone used the smoking shelter but a majority did and the risk was greatly reduced which matters so much.

My biggest fear in life is having an asthma attack, so imagine being faced with your biggest fear on a daily basis multiple times. It seriously makes me wonder if working is really worth the risk. I don’t know who to speak to about it. I blogged about it, tweeted about it, spoken to my union and will just about tell anyone who will listen. I love my job but it is getting to the point of weighing up risk and reward especially with being on a new treatment. Can I really justify the expense this new treatment will cost the NHS vs exposing myself to a major trigger everyday and risk attacks which could jeopardise the success of the trial.

Anyone who can suggest or make a difference to the smoking obstacle course I face please let me know (I have tried using other entrances but this is an issue at other ones too). as I am desperate now.

 

The Intensive Care Unit

I have written often about being admitted to intensive care or the high dependancy unit or being reviewed by critical care staff and it always something I have just sort of dealt with and not thought to much more about it. That was until last night. I couldn’t sleep for tossing and turning thinking about how many times I have been in ICU or HDU or had the threat of going there.

Why all of a sudden has it bothered me??

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Critical Care Patient and Public Involvement Group (which I will write more about in a post of its own). A room full of patients who have been in ICU or their relatives, Drs and Nurses from ICU and then researchers whose area is critical care.

Naturally when you have a group of patients together you are naturally going to ask how you are linked with the group and I guess what your story is. In the discussion part of it there were 2 other patients who spoke of their experience being in ICU and how it was awful, the worst time of their life and how the Drs and nurses saved their life because their life was in their hands. It was a traumatic experience for them and they have got through it. I heard the saying “surviving ICU” a lot.

“Surviving ICU” was what bothered me and kept me awake. I think maybe I under estimate how bad my asthma is or maybe how sick I get or how dependent on medical staff I am to get me better. I know that my asthma is severe and I know there are many more hospital admissions, HDU admissions or ITU admissions ahead of me and I think i sort of accepted this maybe. It was not until that group discussion that I realised just how traumatic it is, life threatening it is, and how it is not run of the mill to go in and out of critical care. At the time I was able to keep my emotions in check but when I got home and set up my nebulisers that it really hit me. The other people in the group had a one off experience, this is what ICU is meant to be like ideally a never experience but if it is going to happen then once is more than enough not once or twice a year sometimes more.

In my working life you hear about people going to intensive care, its not looking good for them or statements that you mainly go out ICU horizontally not vertically. I think for me I have always come out of ICU so would never dwell on the experience of being admitted. I cant say it is a pleasant experience not being able to breath and having the most toxic drugs that make you feel horrendous to make you better but it gets better, I go to the resp ward recover and get back home. It is how it goes and has been for the last 14 odd years.

So after that meeting and hearing others speak about ICU it has almost given me a fear. In the back of my mind I know there are only so many times you go to intensive care or high dependancy and get out but so far I always get out and sometimes bounce back but then get out again. I think it is the emotions that I could see on the other patients faces when they recalled their experiences that it hit me that maybe I don’t have the right emotion to it. The fear they had and the gratitude to the Drs for saving their life was clear to see. Its not that I don’t appreciate what the Drs do but I guess I just never wanted to admit that Im going to intensive care because its the safest place and I might just be that unwell that action needs to happen quickly. Every attack I have I am terrified that it might kill me and that asthma may just win the battle and Im sure I have surpassed that thought as it is very over dramatic and im young so it won’t happen but seeing younger patients have that fear of death and the unknown.

I have never really expressed my fears of my asthma to those close to me. I try to give the outward opinion that its fine, its life, its been long enough now I should be used to it. I would like to be able to have a conversation with people about asthma and death but would worry they think I am just being over dramatic and its never going to happen. Maybe I should though as a comment  that occurred really hit me and made me think about how those close to me feel and thought about my asthma and health. Recently a very close friend died, my mum was away, I was home but she read a text out loud and said “oh my god she’s died”. My step dad thought it was me that had died not the friend. This really hit me that if they hear something about someone dying they go to me and think it is me. I try so hard to keep well and take my medications etc but its still not good enough. I always knew they worried about me doing to hospital but never thought about the dying aspect of it.

What I find so difficult and I think it includes the whole critical care thing is that in the past I have been rogue with managing my asthma. I was young and didnt understand it and didnt want to accept it so I would increase medication so I could do something only to crash and burn and end up in hospital. That changed after a consultant had a go at me (they were just stern and didnt mess about but i felt awful so took it worse than had I been well) which I well and truly deserved but I stopped messing about and accepted not being well and accepted what I could and couldn’t do. The point I found so hard was that despite this change in behaviour and management I was still ending up in ICU or HDU but not having the good bit beforehand which I had before. To this day I still really cant accept the ICU or HDU admission for nothing. I get it if I was to go and play a game of football have a bad asthma attack and need critical care- I deserved it, I did something my body cant handle but now I try my best and still end up going there and that is the hard bit. Where before if I hadn’t been doing anything attacks would mean hospital and a respiratory ward where now it is resus, critical care and then respiratory ward. With this development what happens when it gets worse……

Lots to think about.

No wonder asthmatics don’t go to hospital early!

One of my previous posts I titled as the most terrifying experience. At the time I thought it was, but sadly it was not and last week it went to a whole new level of scariness.

I had not been discharged long but I needed up needing to go back to hospital.

It all started well. I was seen in resus and after a few hours was stabilised with IV Magnesium, IV Salbutamol, IV Hydrocortisone and lots of nebulisers driven by oxygen. All was going well. My care plan was being followed and all going well. Maybe a little to well!! Coming out of resus was where it all went downhill and led to the worst time I have ever had.

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Being moved from resus to IC/HD is always a good move so when they said I was moving I was happy. It meant I was getting better and on the road to recovery. This was not the case this time. There was a plan in place for when I was moved. To continue on back to back nebs to keep on top of my attack but this was not done. I had to wait an hour and a half and ask over 6 times to get a neb to be told by a nurse I was fine and he was too busy and would come back to be later. By this time my blood pressure was rising my heart rate was rising and my oxygen was dropping. This was not the time to say I was fine and he would come back to me. I felt the nurse didnt think I was ill. I thought he thought that because I was young I would be ok. I was not ok. I was terrified. It was harder and harder to breathe and I thought by going in early I would be seen early and be back out again. I kept asking for nebulisers and not getting them. writing it like that makes it sound like I was unhappy because I was not getting what I wanted but it was far from it. I was desperate for a neb. My chest was getting tight and I really couldn’t breathe. On top of that I was scared and thinking all this stuff about what might happen. Eventually I got to see a Dr who questioned why I had not had the nebs etc I was meant to. I felt relief at being given a neb but also because I thought the plan would be followed again.

I got two nebs but after that it all slipped away again. I tried to tell the nurse about my care plan but was told he didnt need to see it and wasn’t his concern. I kept asking for nebs but was being told he was too busy. I am sure he was busy but all the times he told me he was busy would have taken up more time than actually giving me a neb and the amount of time he had to look after me in the long run. I ended up using my own supply of nebules to treat myself as I felt so scared and want to get better. By this time I had had enough. I tried to get up so I could get dressed but I fell and really hurt my knee but at this point a combination of lethargy, fear, tiredness and the effects of the asthma attack were taking their toll and I decided it was time to self discharge myself. It was rash but I felt it necessary. It got the attention I needed and the Dr came over to see me with the nurse in tow. I also ended up being reviewed by intensive care. I told the nurse that this was all on him and if I went to ITU or had a prolonged admission it was on him and I strongly believe it was. His attitude was horrible and it has made me really question going into hospital and getting help. If I saw him again as I came into A&E I would refuse to go in as I really thought I may not get out of A&E in his hands.

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After falling and threatening to self discharge I was moved through to the assessment unit where I was in such a state they wanted to give me lorazepam to calm me down. Thankfully the Dr had been filled in on what had happened and knew I just needed out of A&E and I would be ok and they were right. The rest of the admission was fairly uneventful but I shall blog about it another time.

I wanted to concentrate on my experience in A&E. I have had so much time to think about it and the consequences of it. A few years ago the national review of asthma deaths was published highlighting the shocking statistics of asthma death and admissions to hospital. From this I tried my hardest to make sure I was very proactive with my treatment and get help quickly to as to make asthma less of a killer than it is. How can we do this if asthma is not taken seriously in hospital where it is meant to be safe and you are meant to be looked after.

I am lucky in that I have been to hospital a lot and luckily never had such an experience and I knew what I needed. What would have happened had I been new to asthma or not known what was happening. I was able to self medicate to make sure I was ok but others may not have been so lucky and the statistics would just get worse. 

The support I have received from Drs, and the respiratory nurses has been fantastic and I have had the help to come to terms with what has happened and also will get the help to put a complaint in about the treatment I received. It is important that feed back is given because if I have been so scarred by events imagine what someone else could have been. They may have taken themselves out of A&E and died from not getting help for their asthma. Its important to get the message out and get people to see how serious asthma is.

I have never made a complaint to a hospital about the treatment I received but I feel this time it is so important that I do for a number of reasons. I was still trying to come to terms with my previous hospital admission and how I went down hill so quickly in a safe environment, I also had lacrosse trials of Scotland and it was my 30th birthday which I had a number of plans for. All of which I missed as a result of the poor care I was given. I may be unfairly putting all the blame on one person and that person being the nurse but to me it is no
t unfair. The way in which I was spoken to and the lack of respect and care I was given has left a huge black mark and really scarred me. For my own sanity I need to deal with this and make it known what happened and what is being done to resolve it.

It will take a lot for me to get my confidence back and feel safe going to A&E again. I know I will have to go back to A&E at some point and the whole reason I do everything about raising awareness for asthma is to changes opinions of asthma and get people getting help early by taking it seriously. If I don’t feel confident and don’t go to hospital for help then I am a hypocrite and should stop doing all the raising awareness and campaigning I do.

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As you can tell this has left a really black mark on me and I will get over it but it will take time. I do want to add that as a nurse myself I do understand how busy days/nights can get and we can’t do everything the patient wants us to do but when you see them laughing and joking and talking about nights out standing round the computer it is fair to see and hear they are not as busy as they are saying and when I see them as a patient doing this it makes me really angry.

I would hate to be in this situation again which is why I am going to share it with everyone I can. I could have gone home but I managed to stay and ended up receiving some of the best care I have had and did get better. I was not able to trial for lacrosse, or be at home for my birthday or go to any of the planned meals etc but I am now home and will enjoy that.

For now I will continue in the work I am doing to make sure that asthma is taken seriously and awareness raised.

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There are some amazing people out there!!

Asthma UK logoThis end of this week is a really special day. Not only is it my Dad’s birthday but it is also the Craigmillar Park Charity Golf Day to raise money for Asthma UK. I never imagined the amount of money it would raise but have been bowled over today when I learnt that over £6500 has been raised so far and there is still 4 days until the actual day. Karen, Janet and the team from Craigmillar Park Golf Club have done amazing work to get this day to together and I hope it will be a great day and we will get decent weather for the day too!

Everyone knows someone with asthma but not everyone knows someone that has died from asthma. Recently in the press it was announced that The Apprentice star Stuart Baggs died as a result of an asthma attack at just 27 years old. I have several friends who died from asthma attacks or complications as a result of one. Asthma should not kill people and it should not dictate peoples lives the way it can for many. The money being raised at this golf day is invaluable and vital to continue funding ground breaking research to help one day find a cure for asthma.

A cure to me would mean freedom. It would mean a life with no medication, a life with no fear that I might do something that can cause me an asthma attack, a life playing sport again. It would just be the life I so desperately want but really struggle to have sometimes.

I am really looking forward to Friday and seeing the day unfold.

Harsh realities hitting hard.

I was reading another blog of someone I know who also suffers from Brittle Asthma which has been so badly controlled by Drs that she has a lot of lung damage as a result requiring oxygen 24/7 now. I found myself in tears reading the posts something which I don’t often find. Its not that I am not emotional but I try and stay detached when reading posts by others who have conditions effecting their lungs. It is purely selfish I do this because I then dwell on my own situation and can relate that to these other people who write about living with Brittle Asthma.

Not only is it a constant battle everyday with our lungs to stay healthy, take medications and just get through the day but there is the other fight. The fight to get the correct medical treatment when it is needed. The fight to get Drs to listen to us and for them to understand how far from normal activity you are. There is not your own personal fight but the bigger fight. The fight to change perception of asthma and how serious it can be.

Frontline staff still don’t understand that asthma they think you can wait before getting treatment. I never forget being taken into hospital laughing with the paramedics because I was not that bad but was bad enough to need hospital. I was left until it was my turn and because no one checked on me despite the paramedics telling the staff I had brittle asthma I was left. When I was seen I was in bad shape and taken into resus and on to high dependancy all this because no one took asthma seriously. A quick once over and a few nebs put on me which I could of done myself and I would have been out of there in under the target time but instead they left it. In the end, they needed more staff to look after me, more drs needed, more nurses, more medications, scans, a critical care bed which cost the NHS a huge amount of money which could have been solved by dealing with the asthma promptly or at least when I told them I was getting worse and needed a nebuliser.

I know people reading this will think that the unit was probably very busy and it couldn’t be helped. I would have understood that but when you ask a passing nurse for a nebuliser because you not feel that great and are told to wait my turn as they need to put someone on a bed pan first who needed it. I am sure the person needed the toilet but what is worse someone having to wait to use the toilet or someone having to wait for what is their life saving treatment. To me it is a no brainer. As a result I will never go actually un well to that unit again.

When you are told to wait when you are fighting for breath is the scariest thing. You don’t know how long the wait is. You sit puffing on your inhaler hoping that eventually after the 20 or so puffs you have had you might just get a little bit of relief but you don’t get any relief until it is past the point of no return and you need proper help in the form of IV and nebuliser drugs.

It is widely known among people with asthma that asthma is not taken seriously enough. But how can we make all those non asthmatics out there realise this to. People die from asthma everyday. I don’t want to be one of those that die but fear it is a very real possibility if front line staff do not change their attitude about asthma. I do a lot of work with Asthma UK and the centre for Applied Research but sometimes I do wonder what it is all for. Will change ever be made. Will we manage to get the word across that asthma won’t go away with a puff of a blue inhaler, there needs to be proper protocols and action plans in place not only for patients but for staff to.

I am terrified of thought of having an asthma attack that might kill me. Not so much about the fear of dying but the fear for my family. I have seen how broken my grandparents were when they had to bury their youngest son, my uncle who suffered a traumatic head injury. No parent needs to do that. This is my fear. My fear of what it will do to them. For me I won’t know about it. I am sure it will be scary but no scarier than any other attack as during every attack there comes a point when you are just too exhausted to keep fighting to breath but somehow you find that extra bit of strength to keep squeezing the air and out those tiny bronchi to keep you alive.

I can only do what I do to try and spread the word about how serious asthma is and how it can kill. I have a bigger platform than most to express how bad asthma is, share my story about living with asthma and where the short comings in asthma treatment are. I have my blog which some people read, I volunteer with Asthma UK but the biggest one is that I am involved with the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research where some of the greatest asthma researchers around are trying to make life better for us! For as long as I can I will keep doing what I am doing. Know one knows what the future holds for anyone. I take each day as it comes just now as each one if very different and never know what I am going to wake up to!

Spread the word on how serious asthma is and highlight the importance on the need for change.

A question that changed my life.

What is that question?

“Do you want to die?”

Never a question you want to hear but one I have. It haunts me so often. Especially at this time of year. It was the night of my birthday in 2008 and my friends went to such great lengths for me to have a great birthday that I just had to enjoy it and wanted to take part in everything. I didnt care about my asthma at the time. I wanted to take part in the ten pin bowling, the dance mat at the arcade, the meal and then Flirt (a university event) in the Student Union.

It was not for much longer that I didnt care.

But I wanted to enjoy my birthday. And I really did up until I started feeling really poorly.

(if you wonder why everyone has Fosters beer hats on- my birthday is on Australia Day and the student union was giving hats, beach balls and flip flops away. Of course we had all of it!!)

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(the top right photo if you are wondering if I am wearing a bumbag- your right I am but it was holding my subcutaneous syringe driver of terbutline in it- my supposed life line!!)

The photos above you can see I am having great fun. The photo below you can see from the colour in my face I am starting to not feel well but try to push on. About half an hour after this photo was taken I had been taken by ambulance and was in resus.

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These photos show some of the good times and the great memories. A great rugby tournament where clearly some of us had less suncream on than others. A random social which included on drawing on t shirts wacky hats and for me a neck tie, and the last a trip to bournemouth beach where the boys went swimming in the sea!

 

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These photos don’t show much. They are not even the best pictures but looking at them so many memories coming flooding back. My really closest friends when I was down in Winchester were the rugby girls. They were the ones who named me Tux and really did look out for me. I think they are possibly the only group of friends who get away with coming dancing into Shawford Ward (the reap ward in Winch), in fancy dress, slightly tipsy, stealing wheelchairs and generally carrying on. But you know what it was the best thing.

Up until this point I have to be honest and say that I really didnt take responsibility for my asthma. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I paid for it but I did it.

I find my self reflecting back and wondering would I have changed anything. Part of me instantly says yes I would. I put my body through hell, I put my family through hell, I put my friends through hell. I caused myself so much upset but in causing that upset I also had the time of my life. So this is the part of me that thinks maybe No I wouldn’t change any of it. Sitting where I am now I know that in order to not land myself in hospital all the time I would not have been able to take part in everything my friends were doing. It was not just the going out to the student union but day trips to the beach or BBQs and huge assortment of different activities I would have missed out on just to avoid not potentially precipitating an attack and a hospital admission. This would have led to quite a lonely life at university.

Why am I writing about this now?? I reflect back on it every year but this year has seen the biggest changes in me. The Tux in 2008 was living life, doing what she wanted, when she wanted and not having a care in the world. I was at one extreme. I find myself now at the other extreme. I don’t go out to parties, I don’t play sport, I do everything I can to avoid potentially setting my asthma off so I don’t have an attack which will land me in hospital and result in me missing work something I am desperately clinging on to. I can’t afford to not have no cares in the world anymore. Tux of 2015 is very different.

2007 to 2015 has been slow gradual switch from one extreme to the other. This change came about because of a question my Dr asked me “Do you want to die”. The consultant who said this to me I had a rocky path with. He is the old school Dr and says it how it is. Calls a spade a spade and doesn’t mince his words. there were times after ward round I hated him and never wanted to see him again. He probably thought the same about me. But it was that question that hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never really considered that MY asthma could kill ME. I either chose not to understand or chose not to remember all the frightening nights in intensive care on CPAP helping me breath and having a nurse stay with me because my family were up in Scotland. Every 999 call would end up with me in resus Drs and nurses pumping me full of medication and on one scary moment having the Dr use the mask and bag to help. I didnt comprehend just how serious some of the situations I got myself into were. I was never really aware of just how easy it was for asthma to kill you. From working with AUKCAR I know that asthma needs to be respected otherwise it can result in death. Not only could it happen to me but it could happen to anyone with asthma if they don’t take it seriously.  From that day I knew I had to change. There were hiccups along the way and I did go back to my old ways sometimes and not care about my asthma but generally I did take note of it.

The week of the “do you want to die” question I made my mind up to go home to Scotland and leave university and get myself really properly better. I am still trying to get totally better and get toady control but I think this is unrealistic. I want to get myself as well as I can and be as stable as I can on the correct medication regime.

In many ways that birthday in 2008 was a pivotal moment. Had events not have unfolded as they had I would not have left Winchester, I would not have studied nursing, I would not be a nurse, I would not working with AUKCAR trying to make a difference for all people with asthma. My life may have ended up as it is now but probably not. We don’t know how our paths change and what will cause change but for me it was being asked if I wanted to die.

Every birthday that comes I do think how lucky I am to have such supportive parents, friends, work colleagues and medical team. Without them I don’t know where I would be.