10/22/2016 11:33:00 pm

Attack of the Breathlessness

Around 1 hour ago, I had my first attack. Not sure if it was a panic attack, anxiety attack, asthma attack, or an attack by any other term.

I was at the back of the car, with my mum driving and her friend at the passenger seat. Usually, my breathing was 80%-90%, having to breathe 3-5 consecutive 80%-90% breaths before getting a 100% deep breath. But for some reason, I started having chest pains that got worse with every breath, and each breath was less efficient than the previous one. It got so painful that I started tearing up and this made the breathing harder because I started wheezing and hiccuping, and it was then I informed my mum between hiccups, "Ma, my chest is very painful." I'd say it was 40-50% efficient (I'm not even sure if that's an accurate way to measure breathing.)

Initially, she wanted me to drive me to the A&E at the nearest hospital, but I knew that this wasn't that serious, so we went to the nearest 24-hour clinic. By the time we reached the place, filled in all the necessary documents, my breathing had subsided to 70%-80% (meaning every 5-6 breaths I could manage to get 1 full, deep breath). The physician took my heart beat at left and right sides, both from the front and back of my chest,  and concluded that my airways were a little tight. I was prescribed an inhaler and some tablets to take orally when the situation arises.

For the past 1 year (maybe longer?), my breathing wasn't always 100% deep with every deep breath I tried to take, sometimes it took 3-4 breaths to get 1 deep breath. But maybe 4 hours before this incident, I was sitting at an open area and the neighbouring table had smokers. I did walk away immediately, but somehow that made the airways tighter, and on the way to the car I had to walk slower to take more and deeper breaths. [After this location with smoke I went to a discussion meeting- in a living room, not really ventilated but somehow my breathing wasn't too out-of-the-ordinary -80%-90%. It was in the car after the meeting, heading home, when the incident happened.]

I'm thinking the reason for this was:
1. Stress- I just started my O-level examinations (similar to IGCSEs, final year exam taken at 16 years old), and I often found myself at a situation where my brain pressured itself about how unprepared I was, and that made me feel even more stressed up.

2. Lack of exercise- also, O-levels are (kinda) to blame for this, I decided to temporarily stop the weekly futsal (football/soccer in a smaller court) sessions (2h) which were my only consistent exercise [no, I don't count walking up the elevators or brisk walking for efficiency excercise]. The funny thing was,  even when I had non-100%-breathing, it was during the days when I didn't have sports, during sports my breathing was at its maximum efficiency. Plus, I also stopped choir for awhile (also, point fingers at O level and my unpreparedness). Singing (plus the breathing exercises for warm ups) not only helped me to relax my mind, but also relax my airways, because we took in deep breaths at specific places to last for a phrase or few bars.

This incident gave my mum a large shock, and for myself it was a big wake-up call, because I never imagined it would be so bad- the most, I thought, I'd just have to take more breaths to get more oxygen. I was also asthma-free during childhood, and during the past haze-periods I seemed alright, and also when I was near cigarette smoke. There was also no history of asthma in my family.

So, I guess this incident was a warning my body gave to myself, to:
1. Not stress myself (my grandma was like, "Why stress on exams? Exams are exams lor!")
2. Exercise consistently (during my exam period I'll spend around 15-20 mins a day at the nearby park to walk around, and after exams I'll try to swim as much as I can). Also, go for choir practices (or practise/pick up some woodwind instrument).

Yep. I'll head to bed straight after this, like the doctor recommended, and get enough sleep (tomorrow's Sunday, so I won't set an alarm and let my body wake up when it wants to).


  1. Oh no, I hope you get better soon. It's horrible to have physical effects of stress and anxiety like this, it kind of scares you off from trying anything new like "oh but what if I have those anxiety attacks again?" and I feel like it severely limits some of the things we can achieve. I hope you find a way to make sure you don't have to go through attacks of breathlessness again!

    1. When I was typing this post out I was convincing myself that this breathing difficulty was only temporary, and it'll be alright when I wake up the next day, but I still find it hard to breathe properly, my throat's tightening as the day goes by (it's alright when I wake up but at night it's just horrible) and the worst of all the inhaler and medication I was prescribed doesn't work. I'm scared, scared that it'll be a life-long thing. I know there's people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions since birth and struggle with every breath, but I never thought it would happen to me.

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