A letter from Todd Wells, Grateful Patient
I was five years old when I was diagnosed with asthma.
Throughout my life I have struggled to keep my symptoms under control. As a boy I was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit after a serious asthma attack and have experienced chest tightness and shortness of breath ever since. To make matters worse, I foolishly started smoking. When you’re young, you feel invincible and never stop to consider how your actions might affect your health later in life. I never thought about my lungs and how important they were until they started to fail.
After 19 years of smoking, my asthma symptoms drastically worsened. I became more sensitive to everyday allergens, causing me to cough and wheeze. I struggled with shortness of breath everyday and simple tasks left me gasping for air. I had to use my emergency inhaler 10-12 times a day just to keep myself going ̶ a serious concern when it’s advised to only be used for critical situations.
Last fall, at 30 years old, I began experiencing chest pain, pounding headaches and tingling in my fingers. I knew my asthma was getting much worse and my condition was very serious. I went to the doctor who, after an initial assessment, referred me to the Respiratory team at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Thankfully, Respiratory Therapist Theresa and the entire respiratory team were there for me to help me improve my health.
In October, Theresa performed a spirometry test on me that changed my life. The test revealed my lung function was only at 45%. This number hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew if I didn’t change my lifestyle, my life would be a short one. After receiving the test results, I quit smoking immediately. Although I tried to stop smoking several times before, seeing the test results helped me to fully commit. I haven’t had a cigarette since.
The staff were extremely knowledgeable and helped me better understand the test results. After the test, I spoke with Mark Finnis, Respiratory Therapist, Certified Respiratory Educator, who taught me how to correctly use my inhalers and manage my asthma. I am extremely grateful for Mark’s support and what I learned from him about taking control of my condition.
After six weeks of being cigarette free and taking my medication correctly, my lung function improved to 87%. I could not believe how much better I felt. Truthfully, I don’t think I knew how bad my lung function really was before my spirometry test. Tasks that were difficult and strenuous before have become easier and I feel much more relaxed in my everyday life.
I am thankful the hospital had the right equipment to get my health back on track and I am thankful for the donors who help fund this equipment. The equipment taught me something about my health and without that information I would probably still be smoking. My girlfriend and I are now planning to start a family and it means so much to me to know I will be alive to share in my child’s life.
Because of the equipment and the care I received, I can plan my future – because of the equipment and care I received, I have a future.
Please give today,