Health Hero: Carmen Sanchez

Carmen Sanchez's asthma was debilitating and was even threatening her life. But weekly asthma attacks and unsuccessful procedures didn't diminish her hope. Learn how she was able to gain strength even though there were times she thought she would die.

I am 42 years old and live in Florida. I am married and have one son. And I have asthma.

Living with asthma used to be very frightening. It impeded me from living a normal life and it affected my family. The very act of walking left me short of breath. I went to many doctors and each one had different opinions about my situation. In the end, nothing changed. I used steroids to bring relief, but I still suffered episodes of shortness of breath and I had asthma attacks at least once a week. The ambulance arrived at my house so frequently that the medical response team recognized my voice when I would call.

I literally became homebound with uncontrollable asthma. I suffered pulmonary failures and was put on life support many times. Asthma continually threatened my life.  I carried an EpiPen® with me at all times.

My arms were bruised from IV's and needles. In time, my veins were no longer accessible, and my doctor suggested I undergo a procedure in which a port would be inserted under my skin.

During this process, I was tested for Cystic Fibrosis and had several bronchoscopies. The only medication that worked was cortisone, but it caused weight gain and horrible mood swings. I was angry and depressed, and I had terrible insomnia. There were many days I wished I could just die. I felt miserable and guilty for not being able to care for my son. My parents became slaves of my disease because they waited on me hand and foot. I hated my condition and I was desperate for an answer, but could not find any.

After years of waiting, I tried omalizumab injections to prevent asthma attacks and it helped me considerably. But it took years of suffering and relying on my faith to get me through. I have learned patience, surrender, and acceptance. There was only so much I could do, and I just left the rest up to God. I made the best of every minute when I felt better, because I never knew how long it would last. Living with asthma taught me that in a second everything can change, and nothing is as valuable as loving others and enjoying time with loved ones.

My family learned the value of life by seeing me suffer day after day. They discovered the desire to live no matter the cost, and they treasure their lives all the more because they know what it's like to not be healthy.

What can I tell someone suffering from this disease? Never lose your sense of peace. Maintain a hope that's alive. When you think you can't go on, trust in the power of a mighty God and hold on to faith. Most importantly, never give up on yourself.

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