I went for my annual asthma check yesterday. It’s something I’d resisted for many years. Being sceptical about all things health, I assumed it was some unnecessary tick-box ploy simply to boost the funding of the surgery.
When I was child I used to have quite bad asthma and took something called a Spinhaler where you put a capsule in the device, pierce two holes in it and then inhale the dry powder which after a couple of wheezy sucks instantly cures you. It worked like a wonder drug, whatever happened to Spinhaler?
As I got older I grew out of it somewhat but still had periods in the winter with the bad weather and in the summer because I’m allergic to pollen where my asthma flared up.
Anyway the letters pestering me to make an appointment continued coming through until eventually their tone changed implying that if I ignored them any longer there’d be trouble. Outrageous really as these weren’t really appointments I’d missed, it takes ages to get through to the surgery and how when you really need to see a doctor it’s nigh on impossible.
Reluctantly I caved in and now I dutifully attend every year. Feeling like a small child I take my inhaler with me to the appointment to demonstrate that I can use it properly. The first time I did it, while being watched and under pressure, I got mixed up and managed to blow rather than suck which made me feel rather silly!
You also have to do a peakflow test to measure how hard you can blow. Each time I give this my absolute all in as I’ve been told that my levels are lower than they should be for my age and height.
Despite running about 20k a week disappointingly I seem unable to improve my score though yesterday’s check followed a chest infection I’d had which may have had an influence. I’ll keep working on it.
At last year’s asthma check I was persuaded to try a steroid preventer inhaler which I’d always resisted, partly because I didn’t want to become reliant on something I only need occasionally and partly because of the side effects which include:
- uneven heart beat
- abnormal or impaired sense of taste
- muscle pain and muscle cramps
- restlessness, dizziness
- feeling anxious
- sleep disorders
- a fall in the level of potassium in the blood
- increase/decrease of blood pressure
Of course there was no mention of any of these when I was eventually railroaded into having the preventer inhaler which I’ve now been using for a year.
Well do you know the asthma nurse was right and I was wrong. I’ve been pretty well symptom-free ever since and it’s really made a difference to my life. I think I exercise more because I’m never wheezy which has in turn helped me lose weight and the running gets my lungs working which must have a positive knock-on effect on my asthma.
Maybe it’s part of the ageing process where health becomes more important, I now go to everything the surgery offers – annual health MOTs, checks for prostate and bowel cancer and next year after my recent chest infection I’m finally going to have the annual flu job to which I’m entitled.