It all started around about the age of three I think, course I was too young then to remember but my mum told me anyway. That was when I was first admitted into hospital with severe brittle asthma, and it was all down hill from there!
I was in and out of hospital like a yo-yo on elastic! Often being admitted four to five times a year. Then at the tender and innocent age of six I was sent to a special hospital in London where I stayed for the next three years!
Finally escaping at the wise old age of nine, I returned home to a world and family I didn’t know, but I adapted. My frequent trips in and out of hospital continued until I was once more carted off to an `Open Air’ boarding school at the age of eleven. Open Air schools were supposed to allow those with respiratory conditions to get the care and all the fresh air they needed to become healthy, rubbish! While there I still managed to rebound in and out of hospital, just in a different county!
At last I managed to leg it from that prison laughing called a school at the age of sixteen and continued my career as a frequent hospital respiratory patient, until I began smoking at the age of nineteen following an argument with the then girlfriend. Surprisingly my asthma improved, soon relented and became almost negligible, causing me very few problems and my hospitalisation decreased dramatically. I did still have attacks and a few hospitalisations, but less frequently over the years until I stopped have to be incarcerated at all! About 20 years of almost normal breathing!
I did stop smoking again after a few years.
I took up Martial Arts, cycling, rowing, sailing, motorcycling, fornicating, drinking, partying and even ran my own business which I eventually sold and undertook a BSc in Environmental Science and qualified as a FE/HE teacher/lecturer. I learnt music, played in bands, duets and did hundreds of solo gigs as a guitarist and singer!
From 1998 to 2003 I was enjoying my employment as a lecturer in HE Science and also Music at my local higher education establishment. But that year my department moved to another building that was still undergoing renovation as we moved in. Often I could not see someone walking towards me due to the dust in the air. Spooky! It was not long after this that I was hospitalised with a blocked and collapsed lung!
A year passed in terrible health, asthma got the blame as I previously mentioned I have always been an asthmatic. For a whole twelve months I was on constant anti- biotics and huge doses of Prednisolone along with nebulisers and other assorted sweeties! Nothing worked!
Finally I went to my respiratory consultant and informed him forcefully that what I was suffering was not asthma! My sputum was different, my symptoms were different and none of the medication was working. To my surprise he agreed! He told me to sit down and explained that I had ABPA. Unfortunately at that time neither he nor his colleagues knew much about the disease so he asked me to research it and let him know my findings, which I did and it was that which ignited my interest in self research. I am pleased to add he and his colleagues have since learnt about ABPA and are very knowledgeable and have helped me immensely.
It became apparent that when my lung collapsed, tests were done that showed I had large amounts of aspergillus in me plus an IgE level of 12,000. But due to an administrative error, it took 12 months before he was sent the results!
Twelve months of suffering and being on friendly terms with the local Undertaker!
Finally in 2004 I was diagnosed with Aspergillosis and the appropriate treatment began. This consisted of Itraconazole and Prednisolone medication. I was told to stop all anti-biotics immediately and switch to the anti-fungal, an improvement was evident within days!
The following years were terrible; I was in and out of hospital constantly! Finally in 2008 I was forced to give up work as I could no longer do my job, it’s hard to lecturer when you can’t breath! I also had to halt my hobby as a singer and musician, sadly I never learned to cough and wheeze in tune!
It was concluded by the `experts’ that I had most likely contracted aspergillosis during the renovation work, but this could not be medically proved so I had no claim to compensation, though my employers did treat me well and I left with happy thoughts. I most likely contracted this joyful disease due to existing lung damage from the asthma, my consultant appeared to take great pleasure in informing me that I had more chances of winning the Lottery than getting this disease. Wish I had won the Lottery instead!
During those years while still trying to work, and in the years following, I have made a study of the infamous Aspergillus fungi and its effects on the human respiratory system. I have even conducted my own research into identification, causes, triggers and symptoms, gaining some valuable knowledge along the way. Playing around with sputum and a microscope, lovely!
Today I am managing my ABPA, Asthma and Bronchiectasis with help from Itraconazole, Prednisolone, salbutamol & atrovent nebulisers, a better understanding of the disease, and a nagging wife! I am only thrown into hospital about twice a year though I do tend to still have bad bouts of asthma and/or aspergillus each month. I am not allowed to work, on pain of death by my wife, daughter, son, sister, consultant and grandson! However I am attempting to write a book, I still research my own condition and I generally try to keep busy in a possibly vain attempt to avoid going nuts!