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I am not weak… I only have asthma.

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Every first Tuesday in the month of May is tagged “World Asthma Day”.

Here is a poem to You from an imaginary asthmatic patient … who could very well be the person next door or the one you meet on the street. Just replace ‘mom’ with your name.

Dear Mom,

I am not weak. I am not lazy. I only have asthma.

You say I am not “wife material” because I cannot scrub, clean and dust.

No problem. I’ll rather be alive than be a wife.

I remember the first time I had an attack.

Just a ‘regular cough’ I thought, until it wasn’t.

It was ‘a cough’ deep in my throat but I couldn’t get it out.

You said I was lazy, I needed to try harder.

The harder I tried, the more I cried.

Like fuel to a fire, chest pain and panic combined.

They fuelled the tears and I felt more helpless.

Sinking, suffocating and drowning,

I needed air but it forsook me.

Or why was I the only one wheezing?

“Finally, air!” as the cold wind blew against my face…

I was sadly mistaken ‘cause it only made things worse!

My airways collapsed like clashing cymbals,

As my heart beat like a frenzied drummer.

My face tightened along with my chest, and my lungs were on fire.

“What’s wrong?” you asked.

But I couldn’t risk losing the little air in my lungs so I was quiet.

You took me to the hospital, thankfully,

And broncho-dilators put out the fire.

I was tired but I smiled weakly.

The doctor said I should avoid my triggers,

‘cause they’ll only launch an attack:

Smoke, mildew, dust and mould,

Cold air, pet dander, and certain foods.

Physical and emotional stressors were not left out too.

So I now stay away when Aunty Latifah is frying palm oil,

And beg Uncle Mikailu not to burn tobacco or grass.

I’ve learnt that I can control asthma so I lift my head high.

Share this with everyone ’cause I need them to know

That I am not weak, neither am I lazy; I only have asthma.

Written by Mercy Folayan.

A letter to you from an asthmatic patient.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

This letter shows some of the things people with asthma face. I hope you understood it all and will be more empathetic to every one you meet.

One more thing you can do, share this so their voices will be heard.

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