In the year 2000, a bad winter hit Woodland Hills, California. I was on my way to work via public transit doing a night shift from 11:00pm to 7:30am. I bundled up the best I could. I had a cold and knew that I should not have been out in the cold, although my customer service job was not as sympathetic. I had to come to work because I had been calling in sick for several days due to a severe cold. It was New Year's Eve and I needed the money.
It was halfway through the shift when my coughing became uncontrollable and I was then sent home early. It was 3:00am and 42°F. When it was time for me to go home, the second bus had stopped running because of the holiday. I knew then that I was in trouble. I felt my lungs wheezing and my coughing got even worse. I walked to another bus stop hoping it would as least get me closer to my location. By the way, I normally traveled thirty miles by bus, five days and sometimes six days a week.
It began to rain. I knew that my cousin was asleep but I had no other choice, but to call and wake her up. She rushed to pick me up and when she had gotten to me I was soaked and miserable. The next day I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a bad case of bronchitis. I took my medicine and it was treated properly.
A few weeks later I began to have the same symptoms only this time I could not breathe at all. I was rushed to the emergency room by my family. The doctor said that I had an asthma attack. I was dumbfounded. I asked him if he was sure. I have no problems with my lungs nor does anyone in my family. This was a shock. So there you have it. Not only was I diagnosed as Asthmatic, I was diagnosed with Chronic Adult Onset Asthma.
After that, I got worse. I moved to Woodland Hills to be closer to my job. I soon lost my job because of my frequent absences due to the illness. Adapting to an asthmatic's lifestyle was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. Because of the loss of my job, I have acquired huge doctor and hospital bills. I could go to the county hospital but the emergency room is too far when I have an attack. So now I have emergency bills in almost all the hospitals near me dating back almost two years.
I have tried desperately to find a job since then, and have had to rethink my goals. I have to work at home. The office environments are just too dusty and allergenic for me, not to mention there are several other asthma triggers.
I wish I knew about filing for disability for such a illness. I am not sure if Asthmatics are covered in this area. I have not seen very much on the subject in regards to adults. But what about now? Can I still file? Do I need to ask the county doctor if I could? What channels do I go through? I would greatly appreciate any information anyone can offer.
If I can manage a job part-time at home and have disability perhaps I can get on the road to healing with my yoga breathing classes and move to another location with cleaner air. As of now I am broke with no bank account and no future. I am trying to take up some skills online and get some work but have found nothing as of yet.
Email: withheld by request
Story posted 8-27-02
ISN Senior Artist: Sherrill Knaggs
Story Editor: Judith Devlin
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