In September of 1991, I had a severe asthma attack. The first couple of sentences I heard when I woke from passing out earlier were, "Zachary, what have you been doing? You gotta cut out playing basketball and those other sports so hard buddy", a nurse said. I was only eight when a nurse told me this. For a week I laid in the hospital thinking down on myself. I was moving closer and closer to believing that I couldn't be an effective athlete.

My father always told me that I could do all things as long as I put my head and heart into it. This was the first time in my life that I understood my disability. The words that my father branded into my soul were quickly overshadowed. Over the years I tried to cope with my asthma.

The main problem was, that my mother has asthma, and her father had asthma. Most doctors say that a child will grow out of their asthma. They encourage the fact that it will pass. My mother over fifty and she is on more than four asthma medications. For her, just to walk up the stairs is hell. But there is another side of asthma than just medical.

It is the emotional and mental aspect of it; the psychological effect on its sufferers. Most people without asthma do not know that asthma is a very hard thing to cope with. While growing up, a young person already has so many pressures and things to deal with. As I grew up my parents focused on helping me gain strength and knowledge about my asthma, but no matter what they said I still felt that I was inferior to others. Peers will make the smallest imperfection a big deal.

While I played sports, they laughed at me because I had an inhaler. They would take my medicine from me and spray it just for a quick laugh. Making fun of my breathing was also apart of the repertoire. They'd breathe rapidly and pretend like they were taking a puff of the inhaler, mocking me everyday. For this reason I could not stand my asthma, and I hated myself because of it. The older I got, it seems the worst my asthma got.

I went from one medication to two; two medications to three; three medications to four. I had at least one asthma attack a year and I was withheld from classes at least three weeks of the year because of asthmatic problems. Like most asthmatics, running and playing alone did not trigger my asthma. Allergies and asthma coincide. If you have a problem with asthma, you most likely will have an uncontrollable problem with allergies. Allergies for an average person is already painful and a burden.

But what if you had asthma? Asthma seems to amplify any other problem to probably double or triple the pain. Because of my asthma, I can't mow lawn without wearing a mask, do too much sweeping because of the dust, or even have carpet, because of the potential of all the dust and dirt that can get trapped in it. Even the common cold is treacherous.

For an asthmatic, a cold is like the flu, and the flu is like pneumonia. When I was younger, I was passed a basic cold. Many kids at my elementary school had it. But they were out maybe one day. On the other hand, I was out of school for about four days. When I coughed, it felt like I was going to throw up a lung.

After I coughed I couldn't breathe. I couldn't take my medication because you " re not supposed to overdose on the medicine. The problem with that was, there was no other way to control the wheezing and shortness of breath. So now, my eyes get puffy, I'm spewing up mucus, my lung feels like it has the capacity of a golf ball and my body is drained because of the cold and because my body is working so hard to deal with these other internal problems. It felt like there was no hope. And this was the basic, common cold.

Just imaging what it would be like if I had the flu. There would definitely be a high chance that I would not be here today. My asthma seemed to be triggered by everything. No matter what I did, in the process, I began to wheeze and be short of breath, struggling to take my inhaler.

If I would do a short sprint, jog, or walk fast my asthma would be triggered. Those are the well-known causes of an asthma attack. But the one's the common person don't see or know are the ones that plague asthmatics the most. If I sneezed or coughed more than twice in a row, I would begin to breath heavily. If I laughed too long or too hard, my asthma will be triggered.

A sudden change in weather will put me through a boatload of hell. In a young person's mind, this is something that you want to keep secret. Throughout my life a pray and ask God that my child does not end up like his father, an asthmatic. For many years, people believed that asthma is psychosomatic. With all seriousness, asthma is not all in the head. Asthma is a real medical problem (Asthma and Other).

Although it is true that stress can make asthma worse, it is not a key factor into why people have this ailment. Asthma is a very serious illness that not only affects children of young ages, but teens, young adults, and older people. Unfortunately, as one grows up, they carry their passed experiences and hatred of asthma with them. This gives them that on going conflict against asthma, destroying their mind and crippling them for a long time. There are many causes for asthma. "Scientists are not sure why some people have asthma and others don't (Asthma and Other)".

But scientists do know that some things that are involved with asthma are smoking, inheritance, allergies, and reactions to other medications. These four things are a big factor in how a person has asthma and how severe their case can be. Most simply put, "Asthma is a disease that involves the bronchial tubes-the pipes that take the air into the lungs-and it is by definition an inflammatory process", says Gary Rachelefsky, an asthma expert and associate director of the Allergy Research Foundation in UCLA (Minnie). "The way to understand asthma is as if it were a cut that doesn't heal, and leads to irritated bronchial tubes (Minnie)."Asthma affects more than 17 million Americans, and 6 million of those affected are children (Minnie)."Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S. (Asthmattack)". Around five thousand people die from asthma every year. But it is true that over forty percent of people diagnosed with asthma are scarred mentally because of the drama asthma brings to their lives.

A study done in the UK shows us how the severity of asthma can affect the everyday life of an individual. About one fifth of the people diagnosed with asthma have to face the greatest difficulties of asthma (All About). After years of conflict, a person begins to center their life on the need to take regular steroid treatment to keep their asthma under control. Every day and night a person looses out on the chance to do eight or more activities, such as walking upstairs or uphill and playing sports, are restricted (All About). Usually between four and eight times a day, a person with asthma must take used their inhaled steroid and / or steroid tablets".

An asthma attack can be such a dramatic thing", Driver says (Minnie). "For children under fifteen, asthma is the number one cause of hospitalization and was responsible for over 650,000 visits to the emergency room in 1999 (Minnie)". The quality of life is affected by asthma tremendously, and is a big problem. Children with asthma miss over ten million school days per year, which is three times the number of school absences of children without asthma (Videocams). "They don't sleep well, they " re tired and irritable, cranky, and feel badly (Videocams)".

Over a forth of the people with asthma are overweight. Scientists believe that this is because of the inability to exercise and do other physical activities that keep them in shape. Participating in physical activities is a key part in the growth of a child. It builds them up mentally, physically, and socially. Because of asthma, there is already a limit placed on them, so they can't go too far, or push too hard.

Since strenuous activity triggers asthma, doctors and parents, as well as school officials encourage a person not to participate. All this does is kill an attribute of a person's life that is imperative to be developed. There is hardly a sport that involves physical activity that doesn't include one or more of the other triggers of asthmatics. Because of the change in weather in some locations, many outdoor sports are excluded. This does not include the other outdoor triggers: smoke, strong fumes, pollen, molds, animal hair, animal waste, and more. For indoor sports all the little things play a factor, like: dust mites, smoke, strong perfumes, strong cleaning products, and more.

There seems to be no way to get around anything that may have a strong effect on asthma. All the little troubles and worries play a part in each, individual life of an asthmatic. Some take it harder than others and some take it a step higher to overcome it. In an effort by ABC News to give people better understanding of how asthma affects children, it is possible to see how one really feels. Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children's Memorial Hospital in Boston videotaped, with permission, the lives of many of his young patients. His main focus is to learn the implications of the key fact that doctors can't always control what their patients do or the circumstances of their lives (Videocams)".

Many of the people who Dr. Rich videotaped showed that they were ashamed to be asthmatic. "These young people feel that they are lessened by, or invalids of, this illness-that they are ashamed to show that they have it or have the weakness (Videocams)". Many young people, and older people alike, feel that it is unfair for them to have asthma. "Why me", a twelve year old, Katie Bro kus said. This is a question that almost every asthmatic asks him / herself. Having an asthma attack is a very frightening thing.

Melinda Emmanuel, 23, said, "It is the scariest thing, not being able to breathe (Videocams)."You go into a total panic because you can't breathe, because once you stop breathing, then you " re gone". Emmanuel continues to say, "I had some of the strongest feelings of fears of death". Ever since she was a young child she has gone through the fear and trials of having asthma. All the things that have gone on in her life have brought pain, sorrow, self-pity, and shame within her own mind. A person with asthma sees this illness as a potential crutch or fault. Either way they look at it, they don't want anyone to know about it.

If they do know, they have the opportunity to talk down to them and exclude them from a particular group, activity, or team. Or on the other end of the spectrum they can be overly giving. They can make the assumption that they " re not capable, and not give the chance to prove themselves moving forward on their own. For asthmatics, asthma is nothing an unfavorable hindrance that stands in the way. One thing Dr. Michael Rich learned is that the kids he observed often try as hard as they can, but there are many, many factors in their lives that mitigated against them using ideal treatments (Videocams). Children, as well as all people, hate to be put on the spot and / or talked about negatively.

Because it seems like such a remedial illness to others, people tend to take their joking lightly. Unfortunately, for the asthmatic, it is a very serious condition and their jokes are making a permanent scar in their lives. Even on television you can still see many jokes that use asthmatics as the primary focus. All this is doing is making that scar deeper and deeper; making the asthmatic never want to share their illness, and keep that side of their life bottled up. Many people have problems using their asthma inhaler in front of people. What if that person has more then one inhaler, like most asthmatics?

Or what if they have to bring a nebulizer (looks similar to an I.V., but you must wear a mask to receive the medicine) to school? This is a heartbreaker for many asthmatics. It's embarrassing, and in their minds brings shame and disgust. The medication, jokes, asthma attacks, pity, breathing, and the weakness altogether can crush the soul and spirit of an asthmatic. "Asthma symptoms (or the fear of an acute asthma episode) can have a marked impact on a child's social activity and emotional development, often limiting involvement on sporting events, school trips, physical education, play activities, or musical education (i. e., learning to play a brass or wind instrument) (Videocams)". For these reasons there have been many efforts to help the millions of sufferers of asthma to overcome their illness.

A variety of asthma camps have been introduced that give youth the opportunity to learn more about asthma and show them that they can do everything that a normal individual can. There are websites and interactive games that teach people about asthma. But these opportunities have not reached all the people that are infected with this illness. A study shows that people need more information to help them manage their condition. "They also need quality time from the health professionals responsible for their care and should be made aware of their rights in terms of healthcare and lifestyle choices (All About)". It is recommended that a person should speak about their asthma.

Telling friends, teachers and other people that they work with will help expand their awareness and give you a better chance in an emergency. This will also keep them from getting scared and / or panicking. And if they know what to do, it may save a trip to the emergency room, which costs a lot of money (Teens). Taking medication regularly, on time, and with the right dosage is highly important. Doctors believe that controlling asthma isn't that difficult.

It requires consistency and obedience to your body. "Don't cut down on the amount of medicine you take if you are feeling good (Teens)". Also, do not take more medication than usual when you feel tightness. Too much or too little medicine can cause an asthma attack.

In doing this, an asthmatic must learn their symptoms. They must know what triggers their asthma and what types of allergies they have that may trigger the asthma. The best way to stop an asthma attack is to know when it's coming and get help right away (Teens). For those who feel ashamed of their asthma, they might try to tough it out. This is very dangerous. The best thing to do is get help, never try to pretend it's not happening, this can lead you straight to the Emergency Room (Teens)".

In overcoming asthma, the best advice is to not limit yourself. Doing this predetermines the destiny of your goals. If you cut yourself off before you start than you can only go so far. "A number of Olympic and professional athletes have asthma (Teens)".

Taking asthma medicine before a workout is imperative. And using deep breathing helps to keep asthma in check. The more an asthmatic works out and takes care of him / herself, the more endurance they get. They become masters of their illness. In order to have a stronger psyche of my asthma I must first learn about it. When I turned twelve my parents enrolled me in an asthma camp.

This camp showed me how an asthmatic can do everything any other person can do. They taught me how to find my triggers, take my medicine on time and to be prepared. They put me in a place where I can be comfortable and get used to others. This was the first step in accepting my illness. There are also other ways that I didn't know of to learn more about asthma.

I knew that websites gave basic information, but other organizations that are primarily focused on educating asthmatics also play a big role. A CD created by Star bright Foundation, explains asthma in a game format that explains how to recognize the signs and symptoms. This is free of charge for people between the ages of seven to fifteen. I will be able to use this because it entertains as well as informs. Unlike basic websites, it doesn't only show words, but interacts with the user. It's good to learn and teach.

People need more information to help them manage their condition. Even now, I am timid to show my asthma symptoms. Even though I feel this way about others knowing, I will give my input and help to others, especially children. I hated having asthma, and I let it hinder me for a long time. I want to be able to give people an opportunity to start their forward movement earlier in their life. I believe that children need young adults to help show them and guide them to control their asthma.

It's best to learn how to deal with it earlier and learn how to be open with their asthma. Asthmatics definitely need quality time from the health professionals responsible for their care and should be made aware of their rights in terms of healthcare and lifestyle choices. Asthma is often misdiagnosed and under treated; in most cases, restricting activity is unnecessary when asthma is controlled through a comprehensive plan, which can include avoidance of asthma triggers and effective medication. Through camps and experience I've learned this. Unfortunately it took me years longer to find this out. But with volunteer work and assistance, our health professionals should be able to give every patient the quality time they need.

Because of all the jokes and laughs that have come at my expense, I began to hide my asthma. But after learning the benefits of telling other peers and people in my surroundings about my illness, I will definitely be more open. It is far more dangerous for people to panic and be scared and not have a clue of what to do than make a joke here and there and have an understanding of what to do if anything goes wrong. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Another thing I must do is to be obedient and take my medication regularly. As you get older you expect that a person is more responsible with his medication. Well, not me. As stated earlier, sometime when you think you " re getting better, you play doctor and take away your own medication.

Instead, I need to do what's right and take all my medication that my doctor prescribes for me. Especially since I want to give my help and services to others with asthma, I need to be a better role model and do what's right. As researched, I found that it is imperative that an asthmatic does not cut down or increase the amount of medicine he / she takes. In many cases I feel tightness in my chest, especially if it gets too hot or if my symptoms get triggered.

I always understood that too little medicine can cause an asthma attack, but I had no idea that too much would. I found that if you overdose on anything, there is a negative effect. So, a steroid is probably worse than usual. When I would get sick, I would overkill on my medication, taking 4 and 5 puffs of my inhaler when I should " ve only taken 2. The research that I've done helped open my eyes to the obvious. I agree with this statement.

I believe that if I learn my body and I abide by the rules of taking medication I will be well ahead of the game. And in controlling my asthma, I can get a grip on my attitude about having asthma. Unfortunately for me, I have many triggers for my asthma. The good thing is that I've learned them from when I was a young child. As I get older I tend to find more and more.

What would be a great assistant for me is a journal that lists all my triggers and in what settings those triggers can be found. I believe each individual asthmatic should have something that people can see so they can understand and have the precautions to what affects their health. This will do two things, provide better safety and let others know how serious your condition is. Catching the symptoms at the beginning is the best way to prevent an asthma attack from getting severe. A lot of times I tend to let my symptoms go.

Like when I start breathing heavily and my heart starts racing, I should take my medication (i. e., right now, while I'm typing). Instead, I wait and keep doing what I'm doing. From now on, I need to act on my symptoms. When I start to feel my triggers going off, I will take my medication.

And if there comes a time when I can't do it by myself, I will ask for help. As I grew up, I always tried to fight my asthma. I never wanted to show my weakness. Even though I might have been taking three breaths per second, I still tried to push my way through. Since I found that this is very dangerous, I will never do this again. I can definitely get hurt.

My condition could get worse and worse. Instead, I will get help. If I don't have my medication, I will have to stop and get help. Asthma is something I can't try to fight by myself. I had no idea that so many people had asthma, especially athletes. Just to know that people have gone through what I've gone through and made it far in sports gives people like me nothing but hope.

People like Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Jerome Bettis, and one of my all-time favorite basketball players, Dominique Wilkins. Asthma almost made me give up sports altogether, but now I have a new light on the subject, and will promote asthmatic athletes to push forward through their trials. In order for my body to get used to being active, I have to become more active. The main thing is that I must take my pre-activity medication before hand and take my other preventive medication. Doing this will get my body used to physical activity and help my body with balance of breathing. The preventive medication keeps my body in good condition through the regular course of the day, while the pre-activity medication gives me a stimulant for the time so I won't be badly short of breath.

Taking my medication beforehand keeps me in good breathing condition and in good health. An asthmatic must also learn how to breathe. I've learned that using deep breathing helps to keep asthma in check. Deep breathing does two things: it expands the lungs and it calms a person down. I must remember this in everything. Deep breathing is soothing, relaxing, and it's good for the body and the mind.

Asthma is truly a cruel ailment. It can bring severe psychological damage to a person, especially a child. As a person grows, they already have a great amount of pressure from their peers, being the center of the joke is not and added bonus. People need more education about asthma and how it affects asthmatics.

The majority of asthmatics feel a burden on their shoulders because of asthma. They and I feel like nobody understands us. People need to understand how to work with asthmatics just like they learn how to deal with people with AIDS and cancer. The victims of these illnesses don't want pity and neither do asthmatics. There are some things you just don't say or do, out of respect. Asthmatics just want a fair chance to be there best without being second-guessed and excluded.

Work Cited " All about asthma: Greater Expectations". National Asthma Campaign. Oct. 2002.06 Feb. 2003. web "Asthmattack". American Lung Association. 06 Feb. 2003 http: //209.208.

153.222/asthmattack/"Asthma And Older People". Mar. 2002.06 Feb. 2003. web "Minnie Driver voices concern about asthma". USA Today. 03 Jan. 2003.06 Jan. 2003. web x. htm " Teens And Asthma". Mar. 2002.06 Feb. 2003. web "Videocams Give New Views of Child Asthma". ABC News.

16 Dec. 2002.06 Feb 2003. web 001216 asthma feature. html.