Jean Jack’s story

Hi, my name is Jean Jack, and I want to tell you what it’s like to have asthma.

Mum says I had a runny nose and sneezed a lot when I was a baby. The doctor thought it was my sinuses, and I had an operation, but it didn’t stop the sneezing. So, the GP did a blood test and found out I was allergic to dust mites.

Mum says I’d have trouble breathing too. She remembers because she had to do lots of extra cleaning to keep the dust away so I wouldn’t get sick and short of breath. I think Mum reckoned I would make it up sometimes to get out of cleaning my own room.

No one thought it was asthma though.

It started being bad for me when I was playing soccer. I’d make one run, and I’d be tired and out of breath. I’d have to sit out of games which I hated, but I thought it was normal being out of breath. I just thought I was getting unfit. I was also finding it really hard to learn stuff and thought it was just me. It sucked.

Then one day, I was helping Mum move furniture, and because of the dust mites, I was having trouble breathing. I got worse and worse and had to use my intercostal muscles to get any air in. It got really bad, so Mum called an ambulance, and when they arrived, they gave me steroids and kept telling me to breathe.

It was terrifying. The ambulance people said I was in the red zone, which is the worst level for breathing problems. I had to stay in hospital for two days before they would let me go home. I know Mum was really worried about me and said I had been in really bad shape.

After that, the doctor sent me to Asthma WA.

Even though I’d had trouble breathing before, I didn’t think I had asthma. I thought it would be someone else with that, not me.

I thought if you had asthma it meant you can’t breathe at all, and apart from when I went to the hospital, I could still breathe; it was just hard. I didn’t know it was not meant to be like that.

At Asthma WA, they tested my lungs, and we met with an educator who helps people breathe better all the time.

It scared me to find out I had asthma and how bad my lungs were. Mum and I didn’t realise how serious it was. But it felt good to know what was wrong, and how I felt wasn’t normal, and it could be better. I was glad people wouldn’t think I just wasn’t any good at sports or making stuff up.

The best thing about going to Asthma WA and getting an Asthma Action Plan is that now I can play soccer again. I can even play a full game without losing my breath.

Asthma WA helped me realise it was asthma making things feel hard; it wasn’t that I wasn’t any good at something.

When I got started on the right plan, I felt so much lighter, and it was so easy to breathe. I didn’t know I had a heavy chest before; I thought that was normal. The lady at Asthma WA said I have to follow the plan, or my lungs would get tight again, so I’m definitely going to do that.

Knowing I have asthma makes me feel anxious. But that’s what drives me to stick to the plan and take my medicine.

If I met someone else who had asthma who wasn’t doing well, I’d tell them to start by helping themselves, or they’ll only get worse. I’d hit them with the truth.

Since I got help from Asthma WA, I’m feeling so much better. I feel like I’m able to do more vigorous sports now. Especially soccer. I can run more than I did before and know what I’m dealing with if my breath gives out. I’m in control. It’s really good.

I’d love to play soccer professionally. A few Saturdays ago, I was running at soccer and did my best play. My coach was like, WOW! I think everyone knew Jean Jack was back!