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World Asthma Day Contest Winners

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World Asthma Day takes place each year on the first Tuesday in May. The objective is to raise awareness of asthma and improve asthma care worldwide.

The two winners of the World Asthma Day, “Share Your Story” contest wrote  personal accounts of their experience with asthma. Their essays will be on display at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Lauren Dionne is a sixth grader, who won for her poster and essay, and Jocelyn Ramirez had the winning essay in the adult category. The two join the Morning Extra to talk about their work.

My Story

By Lauren Dionne

People should have the right to breathe.  Asthma takes away that right, leaving millions of Americans breathless.  This may be my experience with asthma, but I tell the story of millions.  I don’t want the problem of asthma to go unresolved.

Picture a warm summer afternoon.  The itchy grass clinging to your shorts as you watch a soccer game.  The birds chirping overhead, singing at a steady tempo as the counselors peer at the children frolicking in the grass.  ZINGGGG!  One of your friends gets stung by a bee.  As you rise to escort your friend to the nurse, you sigh and close your eyes.  When you open them once more you find yourself in a dimly lit office.  You seat yourself in a freezing metal chair.  An eerie noise rises from the shaded corner.  It sends chills down your spine like shock waves.  You inch toward the noise.  Your heart skips a beat as your cold, shaky hands draw back the curtain.  There sits a boy staring back at you with cold dark eyes.  His skin is a sickly pale color and he has an oxygen mask tight over his mouth and nose.  He just had an asthma attack.  You release the curtain and stare for what seemed like an eternity.  The wheels in your head click, sending distorted messages like puzzles for you to solve.  He envied you for your ability to breath, to be free of asthma’s chains.

Breathing is not a given.  Millions of people could have told me that.  The little boy bound by invisible chains got to me.  I wish everyone was free of chains of burden and from asthma.

The Unbearable Strength to Accept

By Jocelyn Ramirez

Through my experiences dealing with my asthma, I believe the key to being in good health first comes from acceptance.  I was diagnosed with asthma in 2010.  I can easily say I was in denial and would not accept that I have it.  I did not comply with my medications prescribed because in my head I kept saying, “I don’t have asthma”.  I can honestly say that it took me three long years to actually see the difference that the medications made when I used properly as prescribed.  When I was first diagnosed, I was very stubborn.  I heard what the doctors were telling me, but I let their words go in one ear and out the other.  I heard what they were saying but I was not giving them 100% of my attention because I did not want to accept what they were saying.  I always wanted to pretend to be perfect, like the shortness of breath and hacking up a storm is nothing unusual.  I also have juvenile diabetes, so when my asthma is flaring up it really takes a lot out of me.  When my sugars are elevated, I also experience tachycardia, palpitations, headaches, and of course the lack of oxygen does not help me out any.  I have been put on oral prednisone and had to stop the doses due to hyperglycemia.  My sugars were going above 600, and I would end up with ketoacidosis if I continued with these severely high sugars.  This was a wake up call for me.  My only option was to comply with the asthma medications that were prescribed.  Through other asthma resource centers I really began to understand how to control my triggers to prevent my asthma flare-ups.  Also, working as a medical assistant, I was able to see that people like to be prescribed oral prednisone because it is a quick fix, but then they are back to square one after they finish the prescription.  They do not comply 100% with the prescription and then wonder why they are getting progressively worse.  I feel that people do not realize the bad side effects of steroids and how strong they truly are.  I have heard that they can stunt a person’s developmental growth.  Steroids are a pretty dangerous medicine that are not prescribed unless deemed necessary.   I had to train myself to comply with my asthma medications, and I know that only I can control my asthma.  I had to accept the truth and stop being in denial for my own well being.  The more knowledge I have about asthma will improve the quality of my life so that I can live to my fullest potential without any disease getting in my way.  I have learned to make the changes needed to improve my life.  I have a beautiful family and refuse to let any disease get the best of me or slow me down!

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