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Dani: Chronic Adult Onset Asthma

The Jobless Asthmatic

Yellow Freesia for Danielle by Sherrill Knaggs, ISN Artist 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.

To Contact the Author

Email: withheld by request
Story posted 8-27-02

ISN Senior Artist: Sherrill Knaggs
Story Editor: Judith Devlin


ISN Artist: Sherrill Knaggs (In Loving Memory)

Sherrill KnaggsSherrill Knaggs, ISN Artist, created the digital photo to illustrate the story on this page. Sherrill lived in New Zealand. Her story was featured in ISN's book, Voices of Scleroderma Volume 2.

ISN Story Editor: Judith Thompson Devlin

Photo of JudithJudith Thompson Devlin is the ISN Story Editor for this story. She is also lead editor of the ISN's wonderful Voices of Scleroderma book series!

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