From:Craig Gabbatiss

My name is Craig. I was born in 1962 and at the age of 7 or 8 was told, by my doctor, that the cold I had wasn't a cold. I had hayfever.

As I grew older my hayfever developed into asthma and I started on my 22 year journey of learning how to live as an asthmatic.

I never went anywhere without my Becotide or my Ventolin. They were my lifeline. My name for my inhalers was not 'puffer' but 'breather'. It very often was the only word I could gasp during a bad attack. And yes, I am all too familiar with the 4 am 'alarm call' of the asthma attack and the frantic search for my breathers.

Like a lot of other asthmatics I was hospitalized on several occasions, 3 to be exact, and I will never forget one occasion when the attack was so bad and my breathers were not working for me, I was convinced I was seeing my wife and son for the very last time. I thought I was dying. On that occasion I was in hospital for 4 days waiting for treatment to normalize my condition. It makes me laugh now to think that, whilst in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital, I was given oxygen, when my body was, in fact, crying out for CO2.

After that attack in 1995, I was determined to rid myself of this burden, this ball and chain, this shackle. I started walking, improved my diet, kept away from asthma triggers such as hairspray, cigarette smoke, and certain beers. I even paid 18 each week for a prescription from an oriental herbalist here in Newcastle.

All of the above did contribute to a modest improvement in my condition, but there were still occasions when I needed my breathers and I still would not go anywhere without them.

A few weeks ago, I received a telephone call from my father who said there was a program he thought I should watch. It was the QED program about Buteyko's treatment for asthma.

At first I was skeptical. How could the lack of carbon dioxide have a negative effect on a person's state of health? Carbon dioxide is a waste product and something which the body tries to rid itself of.

Anyway, having nothing to lose, I ceased all usage of my Ventolin and dosed up on Becotide. I practiced the exercises. I relaxed after my exhalation, and waited until it was really necessary for me to inhale. I already knew, from a book called 'The Science of Breath', that nasal breathing was far superior to breathing through the mouth, and therefore had no problem with that aspect. What I did have a problem with at first, was the pause. I could only manage 5 seconds!

Its early days yet, but as I sit here typing, I can now manage a pause of 25 seconds. When at rest, I breathe twice in a minute, I do not wheeze, my cough has gone. One week ago, and for the first time ever in my adult life, I went to work without my precious breathers. I no longer need them.

I am angry that I am the result of an industry that seeks not to cure asthma but to treat it with drugs which do no good and deny the body its right to be heard.


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