School can be tough in general for a host of reasons; I don’t know anyone who loves middle school, but asthma can make it more challenging. If I could advise others regarding school and asthma it would be to educate, advocate and be prepared. It is easy to laugh at some of the situations I have been in with my asthma, but the outcomes could have been much different.
Did you know it is a law in all 50 states that kids can self-carry their inhaler? I remember hiding my inhaler in my pocket because I was afraid to raise my hand in class and say I need to go to the nurse’s office so I could use it when no one was around. In situations like these, it’s crucial that you know your rights and that others know them as well. No one should feel like they must break a rule or risk getting in trouble not to become sick.
Asthma has different triggers, and someone may think they know what an asthma attack looks like, but that is not always the case. I have been in situations when I have told a gym teacher that I cannot breathe, and they have told me to keep running. I have also experienced the opposite scenario: I avoided the nurse’s office when I needed to use my nebulizer because I knew she would send me home, even if she heard a slight wheeze. With asthma is it essential to make sure that you use your voice.
Recently, we sat down with our school nurse and the administrator to come up with an Asthma Action Plan. The nurse said that asthma did not need medical accommodations or plans like other conditions or diseases. Regardless, we went over the list of medications I needed to keep at school, in addition to sharing medical information. We also went over a plan in case I were to miss a lot of school; last year I missed 38 days of school due to asthma and having a plan to make up school work last year made a huge difference.
It is easy to become frustrated with people when they do not understand asthma or make light of it in various situations, especially at school. I have found that by educating others about my asthma, it makes things a little easier if I am having a flare or getting sick. It is equally important to speak up and advocate for yourself if you need help. Lastly having a plan and being prepared are essential to breathing better.