I have known for some time that I have some lung issues. When I get a chest cold it lasts and lasts and my coughs are really harsh compared to average people. It is common that everyone else beats their cold in four days and I get stuck coughing for two weeks and I simply dismissed it as bad lungs since my father had similar issues throughout his life. I considered myself to be in nearly perfect health less the lung issues and low physical fitness due to too much playing and blogging and too little running! This week I went to the doctor as I have had a cough for over two weeks and we were worried it might be strep throat. Instead she diagnosed me with asthma. It is a very strange thing to go from a undiagnosed 'my body just doesn't work' situation to a named, known disease. Somehow I can't consider myself to be in prime health anymore because I have this big disease psychically imprinted on me for now and forever.
Naming something has tremendous power. It used to be that many kids were simply considered bad kids or poor learners but now they are labeled with ADHD or dyslexia and that change of label completely alters their lives and learning. The change in label is so powerful I think because it changes the source of the issues and their potential resolution. A bad kid is one with a moral fault - they could be different but they choose not to. A kid with dyslexia is suffering from a negative influence from outside their sphere of control which can be dealt with and accounted for. My circumstance is obviously somewhat different but it has similarities in that naming the problem changes it. Instead of something inexplicable and unsolvable I suffer from something with defined parameters and known solutions.
Now I can approach the problem from an entirely new perspective. I can get the doctor to prescribe me a puffer to help deal with coughing jags and I can read online to learn about the triggers for problems and other solutions people have come up with. I do have the new situation of describing my condition as asthma and having all the baggage that goes with it though, which is challenging because my version of it is very mild and many people assume the worst when they hear the name of a disease. I suppose I can call it 'mild asthma' generally speaking and people will understand fairly well, but that is one distinct downside to naming things specifically like this; communication is made much faster but unless the batch of things the listener associates with the word happen to match the characteristics the speaker wants to convey things may be simply made muddier instead of clearer.
One wonderful thing is that my doctor told me it was possible to go get tested for asthma but that she recommended against it. Given the mildness of my symptoms she felt that there would be no useful treatment that would require an official test so she recommended not being tested. I am extremely happy that my physician thinks about things that way - if we can't treat it, don't test for it.
I am away at the cottage for four days this weekend so only 4 posts this week. Next post will go up on Sunday night.