Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm Not Invincible...

Hey Peeps, PolarB here...

Today was one of those days that shows me I am not invincible as I might hope I am and that I do have to watch my health concerns. Typical morning doing my regular routine at work and then whammo! Out of the blue, something happens and I am thrown into a full blown asthma attack and can't get a breath for the life of me. It's one of those times that you feel it coming on and you try to do things that will help like turning on the fan, and trying to focus and stay calm, try to take nice deep steady breaths, but nothing works and you know you are going to be in trouble in a matter of seconds. I grabbed my emergency inhaler and headed to the bathroom. Alot of times if I can just clear my lungs as they are filling up with the sticky goo that coats them that closes off my airway, I can at least begin to get some air into my lungs. But it was already too late and I knew it. I've been down this road many times before and know what to expect. What I didnt want to do was to go to the hospital and spend the day getting breathing treatments in the ER unless I absolutely had to.

The inhaler started working and opening up the airway after I was wheezing and gasping for air, I was able to get some of that stuff out of my lungs. The thing about using the abuterol inhaler is it is an immediate head rush that makes me very dizzy and light headed but it does what it needs to do on my lungs to open up the bronchial tubes so I can get air into my lungs and start to breathe like normal again. The downside of that and the asthma attack is it completely knocks me for a loop. I couldn't stand up and walk without help because I felt like I was going to topple over on my face. A friend had to drive me home and I spent the day in bed just totally wiped out.

I know what triggered the attack and it is something people don't even think twice about. Most times I can tolerate it and it doesn't bother me at all, but other times it affects me immediately or if my asthma is compromised anyway by changes in the weather or dust or anything like that, it is more immediate. Today it was triggered by a coworker who was wearing perfume. It's not the first time I have been triggered by scents and perfume but it is something that most people don't think anything about or dont realize the dangers unless they actually have asthma.

People die from asthma attacks yet there is a lack of education about the lung disease. There is no cure for asthma, which is a lung disease. Here are some facts about asthma.

Every day in America:

40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.
30,000 people have an asthma attack.
5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
11 people die from asthma.

That means every single day, 11 people die from asthma, which is 4015 people a year.

The last time I had a bad asthma attack at work because of perfume, I did not have an inhaler with me so an ambulance had to take me to the ER. There was a coworker who wore extremely heavy perfumes everyday and she triggered my asthma attack. I ask if I could possibly move to another desk and our occupational health department said, how long are we going to have to accomodate you for this issue? I said my asthma is permanent- it is a lung disease. They told me they could not move me or give me any special treatment because it would not be fair to other associates. I wasn't asking for special treatment, I just asked if I could move away from the trigger source. I asked if there was a possibility if they could ask associates to not wear perfumes and heavy scents to work in an office setting because of health issues. They outright refused and had no desire to do anything about it. Luckily for me, the woman was transfered to the field and soon left the office, but I was amazed at the lack of willingness to address a health concern issue.

For me, breathing is essential. I mean it is kind of important, you know? It can mean life or death to me if I cannot get any air into my lungs. So it blows me away when I see a lack of concern for something so essential as being able to breathe air.

I hate to have to ask somebody to not wear perfume or cologne because it is affecting me, because ultimately people have the right to do whatever they want to do, and sometimes people can really take offense to it and have a lack of understanding because they aren't educated to the dangers it poses to others. I know it sounds silly that perfume and scents can be dangerous, but for me they are. So do I say something or not... it's always a very tricky situation, yet it is also important for my own well being and health that I am able to breathe okay.

One thing I know is I am not invincible, no matter how much we would all like to believe that we are, we simply aren't.

That's all for today... PolarB out.


BryM said...

Your job was very unfair to YOU. There are a lot of companies today that have policies in place about using perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, etc at the workplace. My last job sent out a very diplomatic but detailed message about the effects that these things have on people who have not only asthma but allergies as well, and though there were a few that scoffed, everyone else was fine with it. Should I send a template to your HR folks? :-]

PaulV said...

Hey, Bear!

Audra has asthma as well, and there are times when the slightest fragrance will set her off. I can completely relate with what you are dealing with.

I'm glad you're okay now. Keep that inhaler handy.


BELLE said...

I had no idea you had asthma. I would think that any rational person would agree that your right to live and breathe trumps their right to wear perfume. If I were your co-worker and you explained the situation to me I wouldn't be offended at all. I agree with what Bry said about your employer, seems very unfair to you.

Sherry said...

One of the most important regulations that we have in my job is that we aren't allowed to wear cologne, perfumes or any strong smelling body lotions.

I'm doing in home client care and many of our clients have COPD. It's a shame your place of employment and the people who work with you aren't more informed about the effects of scents on others.

I'm mildly allergic to strong colognes. They give me hay fever symptoms, and I hate it. I can't imagine how you must feel.

PolarB said...

Bry yes send me the memo! I would love to pass it along to them to drop the hint!

PolarB said...

Paul some days are worse than others for me... if my asthma is already compromised then it makes it worse. There is nothing more frightening than not being able to get a breath of air. It is terrifying. My friend has asthma and she says it's like having glue poured in all your air holes clogging them all up. Very true.

PolarB said...

Belle, Yep I inherited this nice family trait of asthma. Most days it is just fine but at least several times a year I have a bad bout with it.

PolarB said...

Sherry I was actually surprised at how unsympathetic they were because it is an important health issue. Breathing is kind of important you know... I wonder how fast they would rethink that if somebody died as a result of an asthma attack at work. 11 die a day from attacks. That's nothing to sneeze at.