My experiences with asthma.

As a child, I fell through the cracks and did not get the diagnosis of childhood asthma that I should have gotten. My inability to keep up with my peers began to manifest itself in junior high school when I could not keep up with them running laps around the gym, and it didn’t seem like any of my gym teachers cared enough to notice. An attempt to join my high school’s cross-country and soccer teams were thwarted by the fact that I could not for the life of me keep up with my peers at all — I was the only student on the cross-country team that year who “could not get over the mental block” required to run the mile (and wished that my coach would have realized that it was not a mental block preventing me from running the mile, but asthma), and was frequently having asthmatic exacerbations while attempting to train for the soccer team that only went so far noticed by my soccer coach as to reduce what was actually expected of me on the field. My parents did not find out until more than a decade later, after I had been forced to drop out of both teams due to an inability to keep up due to undiagnosed childhood asthma, that when I was enrolled in gym class and my gym coach discovered the severity of my asthma he let me ride the bench the entire period to get the needed credits for gym and gave me an A without informing my parents that there was any concern at all about me not being able to participate with my peers. Literally no one reached out to my parents at all.

While my classmates did gym activities, I sat on the bleachers doing homework and was given As for gym.

I wasn’t formally diagnosed with asthma until I began seeing my own primary care physician as an adult, and she was flabbergasted that it had taken this long for anyone to even question that I had asthma given the frequency and severity of my symptoms as well as the limits that they imposed on my life. Because various maintenance medications did not have the desired effects and my asthma was still as prevalent as it was, especially exertionally, I was referred to a pulmonologist (and eventually had to change to a new primary care physician and pulmonogist over the years). Although I am comparatively in a bit of a better place with my asthma than I was years, even decades ago, I still resent the fact that I was never diagnosed with asthma as a child and that I could not participate in the activities that I wanted to participate in because the coaches that were supposed to be responsible for my well-being could not even reach out to my parents to let them know that there were impediments to me successfully being able to be a part of the teams that I wanted to be on. (And at that, my gym coach letting me ride the bench for multiple gym classes gets more and more absurd the more that I continue to think about it, especially as I continue to get older.)

All in all, I feel like several key adults that were in my life when I was a child dropped the ball and failed me.

Actually, for more than just this reason, I feel like key parts of my secondary school education failed me.

Maybe my asthma wouldn’t have snowballed into what it became if these adults at school had contacted my parents about my exertional struggles sooner, cluing my parents in to the realization that I needed assistance to participate in activities that I wanted to participate in, and I would be more fit for it today.

But all I can do, more than a decade after graduation from high school, is sadly wonder about that though…

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