“Hi, I’m Andrea. I was diagnosed with asthma as an infant, which was fortunate for me. Up to that point, the ER doctors kept telling my parents I had croup. I was lucky that a respiratory doctor walked past my room and heard my breathing. Curious he asked about me, and he informed them that what they were hearing was an asthmatic wheeze. My first memory is of being in an oxygen tent – they stopped those treatment to by the time I was two.
I was very lucky though, I was taught early on how to explain my symptoms to the doctors. I was also able to learn different breathing exercises to help with my overall condition. Swimming lessons, singing lessons, all helped me learn if not how to stop the attack, how to control my response to it.
By the time I reached my teens, I was feeling pretty good. Unfortunately it didn’t last. The flares started up again, and were worse than ever. I somehow managed to develop a bunch of new allergies, and my life got flip turned upside down. Every time I set foot in the Chemistry Building I’d end up in the ER that night. I had to rethink my entire life plan.
Once my treatments began to fail, first the steroids, then I went through some experimental therapies, from Methotrexate, to Cyclosporin, to heliox to acupuncture, then most recently my IgG. I was so active when my IgG infusions were working, and it’s been a struggle to regain what I’ve lost. But the important thing is to find a doctor who understands you, and who will listen. Mine often said that I knew my system better than anyone. I always try to keep track of the new treatments, the new studies, and I try to offer my personal knowledge to anyone who has questions.
ACMA was a revelation to me. Back home I was one of only dozen people who have the same severity. Here I found others who ‘get it’. They know, because they’ve all had their own journeys. I’m proud to be a small part off this collective.”