Ian Bland's Story

Mail To: Ian Bland,

Hello there,

Where to start? I guess my story started when I was first diagnosed as having Asthma at the age of four. Both of my parents were relatively young and didn't really understand what that meant, but were willing to go along with whatever advice our local Doctor and Hospital advised. At that time I was given tablets and my very first inhaler, which I diligently used every day. That didn't stop me from attempting to be the bright little boy that I was, but unfortunately asthma had other ideas. I spent the next 8 years going to the hospital every month for checks on my health, with attacks every three or four months putting me in a hospital bed for anything from three to four days to three weeks. I still managed to get an education and spent a lot of time reading, studying and watching TV (I am a firm believer in young children watching educational programs while at home - it worked for me!) Due to this forced internment my reading level was raised dramatically - I spent all of my school life excelling in English language with a reading age at least +4 years ahead. It's not all bad then!! Things turned around for my asthma as I grew older - by the time I started comprehensive school (year 9 of school life) the attacks had started to come under control - I had been used to asthma for so long that I had started to "relax" during attacks, not stopping the attack itself but aiding in the recovery. The then thin, weedy little boy decided that his appearance (along with the onset of puberty) had become a little more important to him, as well as "I've just had enough of been weak all my life!" - spurred on by the hormonal changes plus a competitive edge that seems to have always been with me I started on a light fitness program - light walking / jogging to school (a 15 minute walk for an asthmatic) and back each day, with light weight-training and general flexibility exercises - this took the form of stretching, sit-ups, squats, chin-ups, press-ups and the like, regulated every day (before homework!) with a chart of progress, which I would build on over time - I really was determined! The asthma complained throughout, but that determined little boy was steadily growing into the determined man he would become, so stuck at it. Those formative years are the best time to exercise as the body is just starting to grow at its greatest rate, gaining the most benefit from any fitness routine; I took full advantage - from barely managing 5 press-ups, only 1-2 chin-ups (sweat!) and a brisk walk to school nearly wiping me out (I would need my inhaler with me to take before and after!) in 1 year I could do 100 press-ups, 100 sit-ups, 25 chin-ups and a run to school that took 4 minutes without stopping (I still needed my inhaler though) For me, the achievement was beyond belief! Ok, throughout this time my physical condition improving didn't really help the asthma, but showed me that it was at least possible to exercise - I still woke up in the middle of the night coughing, up in the morning wheezy-chested, wheezy when the weather / atmosphere changed - I just took this as normal (I'd been like this my whole life!) At the tender age of fifteen I again suffered a number of attacks which sent me back to the doctor's office - this time though something different happened. Not just the listening to the chest and the "Well, Ian's asthma is bad at the moment because he has a cold, so for the next few weeks double the dose of ......" No! Into my hands was placed what I would have described as "The best chemical breakthrough known to Man!" Ok, so it was only the propellant Salbutamol inhaler. Only!! Stop asthma attacks in under 2 minutes? Fantastic!! No more sitting around for half an hour while the attack subsides - I can just "Puff and Go!" Sounds like some kind of strange TV commercial, doesn't it? What I was actually given was a time-bomb waiting to go off - two years later I added to my drugs-list the Becotide inhaler (which I didn't take very regularly *sigh*) and didn't stop - I was down the Gym three times a week, I started work as a printer / film processor, I was out all the time socialising - I was enjoying my new-found freedom for the first time in my life!! At 19 I changed career direction and started working shifts as a lowly computer operator - I spent most of my working life in an air-conditioned humidity-controlled computer room. Add together the lifestyle, the "working-out", the socialising, the shift-work and the changes in environment that I kept putting myself through (Cold, dry air to warm, moist air and back every other day) - there just weren't enough hours in the day!! I still felt bad in the night, woke up wheezy - never really thought about it though. I later find that this is the sure sign that your asthma is "out of control" - it took until aged 22 for the "Time-Bomb" to stop ticking - I awoke in the middle of the night to an attack that no amount of Salbutamol would stop - I just got up (it was 3 in the morning) and drove myself to the hospital, expecting them to put me on a nebuliser for 30 minutes and i'd be "right as rain" - yeh, right! 12 hours later and another really heavy attack put me on a ventilator in intensive care for two days - having a machine breathe for you can be quite a sobering experience I can tell you, especially for your family. Once i'd recovered fully (a month later) I was then told all about what I should be looking for, given the right amount of drugs and told - "be careful!" Since then I stuck pretty much to the "drug regime," although I always have been slack with the Becotide (just can't get around to taking it!) unless i've got a cold or am a bit run-down.

So why, after all those years trusting the advice of the medical profession, do I try something so radically different as Buteyko? Well, as previously mentioned my appetite for reading has never diminished - I am a voracious reader and now that I am a Computer Consultant have access to a large amount of data: The Internet. I've always been very sceptical of homeopathy and other forms of "natural healing" - to add insult I also suffer from eczema and have tried a number of "alternative medicines" - no joy. I consider eczema to be a low-risk disease so there was no way I was going to try my asthma out on it. You know the story - "Hey, you're having an attack - take this herbal tea and you'll feel much better!!" And what part of "There's No Way i'm Trusting that to Save Me" don't you understand? The other thing is that most of the people I have spoken to about asthma couldn't really answer the fundamental question - Why? All the doctors I spoke to said "We don't know exactly what is the cause of asthma - you are just triggered by "something" which closes your airways" Ok I say, I can take that as long as the drugs carry on working i'll be fine. Thing was, when that obviously wasn't working it was time to change my lifestyle to fit my illness. I'd have to calm down and not run myself into the ground, get plenty of sleep, not stress myself, that kind of thing - ok, I can accept that; doesn't mean I like it though. Then came my final asthma breakthrough - I was reading on the Asthma NewsGroup all about different drugs people take, different remedies, symptoms, conditions etc,. when I came across an interesting word - Buteyko. As I had only just started reading messages posted by the group it took me a while to find out what this word meant. Most people posting on the board were giving it what can only be described as a hard time, but if it was worth talking about then to my mind it was worth looking into - I love a good puzzle. Not only are there a few people talking about this "Buteyko" but someone just happens to post a memo saying that there will be a QED Programme (TV Science / Fact Show) on this Buteyko thing - i'll watch a bit of that! Unfortunately I missed the first half of the show but caught enough of the info and the results to convince me to take a further look into it. Back at the office I started hunting on the net - lo and behold a WebSite! For the next two days I burrowed through the blurb and finally had enough info to try the technique myself. Now i'd been running low on my inhaler for a number of days as my asthma was pretty hay-wire - I was using the inhaler about 10-15 times a day. I had to put into the Doc's for a prescription for Salbutamol - this I did, but ran out later that day. That's when I started using the Buteyko method, breathing through my nose from then on. I did the control pause (10 seconds) and relaxed my breathing down to practically nothing, then tried to hold my breath for as long as possible - the feeling of "no air in the lungs" was quite disconcerting at first, but I soon got used to it after a number of tries. On the second week, I think on a tuesday, I was seated at my desk when the "attack Warning Signs" reared their ugly head. Following the Buteyko method I again relaxed my shoulders and breathed shallowly, holding my breath for the control pause again for as long as possible. Within five minutes my lungs felt "clear" - no attack, no wheezing, just an incredible sense of euphoria I will never again feel - I almost burst into tears. From that day to this I have not used my Salbutamol inhaler, nor have I needed to. I bought the inhalers with my prescription two days after starting the Buteyko method and I used the Becotide Inhaler for the following two months - after that I stopped taking it altogether. The Salbutamol inhaler I carry with me always, but since Day 1 have never needed to use it and hope I never have to use it again.

Now I could go into the reasons the Buteyko method is supposed to work; the carbon dioxide control, the "ultra-hyper-ventilation" theory - for me, that doesn't matter. The real reason for my trying the method is simple - the question "Why?" has been answered, a question none of my Doctors could answer. The symptoms of hyper-ventilation and their relation to asthma I feel is easy to see, once explained rationally with the concept of hyper-ventilation in mind. The answer to the question "Why?" is plain. That the "answer" has been under everyone's noses all these years is just life - that's the way it goes. What we come to in the end is a really simple premise - IT WORKS. I don't want to get into a debate / argument over the issues because i'm not a Doctor or a scientist so I don't feel i'm in a position to argue - what I am is an asthmatic who is practising the Buteyko method and for the first time does not have to use drugs to control it and has had no further asthma attacks. I can run, train, play paintball - I play for a team and no longer require my inhaler to enjoy it, as long as I breath through my nose while playing and don't try to "gulp down" tons of air! I still get tired and sweaty, just like every normal person I guess, but still no asthma attacks or wheezing. I have to admit to not taping my mouth shut at night but otherwise follow the principles to the letter. Not much to ask then to get rid of my asthma altogether, just a few minutes "exercise" a day. Dead easy.

Well, that's about it - if all this does is make an interesting read to an asthma sufferer somewhere, or the worried parent of a child who has been diagnosed as asthmatic then that's fine by me. I could give you all that blurb about "I have no affiliation with the Buteyko Institute blah, blah, blah" but I don't think that's necessary - you don't need to hear it. My only "hard sell" if you like is that I would Strongly Advise you to investigate this method and to try it out. It works for me and i'd hope it would work for any asthmatic, young or old. If that means getting a Buteyko expert if you can contact one direct for training in the method, then please do so. I have learned how to do this from studying all the literature I could get my hands on, as well as the Web Pages and mailers from people who have attended the courses, but I did it with my GP's guidance and the "crutch" of the drugs until I felt I was strong enough to get off them, just as I was advised to do. Never stop taking the drugs you have been prescribed until your GP says otherwise, as this is against all the teachings of the method.
So there you have it - My Story. Hope it helps and good luck for the future.

Ian Bland.

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