The Questions About My Illness That Won't Stop Running Through My Head

Questions are swirling around in my head!

I have chronic asthma. For the last couple of months, I have been quite ill. I have had some overnight stays in the hospital and lots of visits to the doctor. I am sort of stagnant with my health. I spend most of my day sitting in my recliner chair reading, playing games, hand sewing and watching movies. I have to lie down and rest in the afternoon too. I try to go for short walks on the better days. Better days are few are far between.

After an asthma flare-up I usually get better, i.e. my breathing eventually reaches a level the peak air flow measurement categorizes as “OK.” But, this time, it hasn’t happened. That means I am constantly in the “caution” zone and sometimes I am getting close to the “go to the hospital” measurement.


This means I have to be careful and tuned in to my body. I have to follow my drug regime carefully too. It also means I am extremely tired all of the time.

Lots of questions keep popping into my head. I don’t think I am alone in these ponderings. I think anyone with chronic illness would find similar stuff lodging in their heads too. I have too much time on my hands and that lets my mind loose with all its questions!

1. How long will this flare-up go on?

There’s really no answer for this. I have been sick with a flare-up since being hospitalized on July 21.

2. What has caused this?

Identifying a “cause” is almost impossible. There are so many factors that can exacerbate asthma. It is spring in Australia so there is lots of pollen about, and it has also been very, very windy. In the hinterland around us there has been quite a bit of burning off to prevent bushfires. Figuring out or isolating the cause just isn’t going to happen.

3. What can I do to speed up getting back to “normal?”

Nothing much! I am never “normal” by everyday standards. I am doing what my doctor has suggested – I have finished a 12-day course of prednisone and I am still struggling!

4. Did I do something that caused this to happen…again?

No, it’s just the illness and my crappy immune system.

5. Couldn’t I just push through this?

No. Not really. When you can’t breathe you can’t push yourself because physically, it’s just impossible. Asthma is not controllable with willpower!

6. Is it really just “in my head?”

Now, that is plain ridiculous! My peak air flow is very low and that can’t be fudged. My illness is real.

7. Will I always be like this?

Probably. Unless there is some amazing discovery that changes how chronic asthma is treated, i.e. a cure is discovered. Mind, that isn’t very likely. Or, maybe my immune system could be repaired?

8. How can I keep myself from despairing?

Try to be grateful for things, practice gratitude and accept this is just an interlude, albeit a long interlude. This is such an effort!

9. What will happen if I stay this unwell?

There is no point thinking about this. I may stay unwell. I may improve. I may even get worse! This is an unknown and projecting about this won’t help me to to deal with what is happening now.

10. When will I have some energy?

Who knows! Not while I am in a flare-up. An asthma attack makes me very tired – that’s a physiological response to lack of oxygen. So when exhausted, rest! And resist the urge to do more and more!

11. How can I deal with the boredom that sets in?

Not sure. I can’t do a lot. I actually don’t feel like doing much. Reading and sewing, crosswords and iPad games eventually lose their charm. Maybe some of you have some ideas? I seem to have guilt because I am doing so little! Why do I impose the expectation to be doing things on myself?

12. Is this my new “new normal?”

This is a possibility… I will eventually accept this if this is to be. Time will tell. In the meantime, practice patience!

I have always been a really active person. I swam long distances regularly. We did bushwalking , tai chi and rode bikes. I had a kayak I loved to paddle too. I was involved in many different community groups and sang in a choir. I accept being unable to continue with these things. I am too exhausted all of the time to do these things anyway.

How does everyone else deal with the questions a chronic illness flare-up brings? I wish my head would stop chattering away!

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Thinkstock photo via Rebbeck_Images.

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