Halloween is always a date that I remember. Not because of the fact that my birthday (yeah), falls on the 30th October, but mostly because for as long as I can remember I am sick with a rotten cold or flu – you name it, and packed up in bed with my inhalers, nebulizer blah blah on my birthday!
Yip, the start of silly season – school goes back in September and then October arrives and it becomes bug city…for us asthmatics, trying to avoid any form of infection. It’s really just a giant sized pain. But don’t think for a minute I am a negative person – quite the opposite! In fact my positive visualization works on nearly every area in my life – apart from these wee babies called my lungs! They are part of me and for that I love them and quite frankly this Scottish weather is just the worst weather for asthmatics – always damp, always raining, cold so in their defense, it’s maybe not all their fault, it’s the climate…at least that’s what I say.
Reality is that my story is not unique. There are literally 1000’s of teenagers who live with asthma and after countless hospital trips with my asthma over the years, I realized that my problems are really nothing compared to some people, so I still feel very blessed and lucky!
You see I had a rough ride into the world, my folks tell me. It’s a long story but basically my mum’s pregnancy was traumatic – very stormy, hence the reason my middle name is ‘Storm’. (Yip she actually called me that on the birth certificate). Anyway, moving on, they believe that during her pregnancy and the varying issues my mum encountered, that my lungs didn’t quite develop the way they should have and hey presto I have asthma.
It took many years to get a full diagnosis but I have the same amazing pediatrician since I was a toddler and she is part of my life. So now I actually like to celebrate my lungs. I work these babies now to the bone, they give me voice and my singing is my life so you see I almost think that if they were any different that I may not be able to sing the way I do – right? ‘Everything happens for a reason’ is one of my mum’s many mottos.
So I guess what I am saying to you is learn to love your lungs. Respect them, look after them. Feed them well. I got so fed up of my mum’s (yes sometimes paranoid behavior of avoiding many activities) that I started to do research myself. I would get so frustrated, fed up of not doing what other kids my age were doing. Could I cure this? Sure we had hard floors, removed carpets, had a list of every trigger in the book, no animals and on and on. But a breakthrough happened about 2 years ago when my singing really started to kick in, I discovered that I wasn’t as fit as I should be. I would get out of breath so quickly on stage, reach for the puffer, almost panic like. But hey, was this the asthma or was it simply because I was unfit? Yip you’ve guessed it, I was actually unfit. Something had to change. My mum got me into yoga at first and I must say – when a yoga teacher teaches you how to breath it’s like no other. You know it actually took me about 4 weeks of practice to learn how to breath properly! Then I started walking, building up cardio slowly over time. (Swimming is a no go for me, unless it’s in seawater in a hot climate – the chlorine always knocks me – this is a real shame, as I loved swimming). Sometimes I can’t be bothered but you know, after exercising you always feel so much better and I am always sooooo glad I made myself do it.
So I guess what I am saying to you is learn to love your lungs. Respect them, look after them. Feed them well.
So after I started to notice an improvement with my stamina, everything changed – for the better. I could sing for longer, I could hold longer notes, my confidence shot up, result – I was nailing it – finally! Not a cure but a great programme!
The hardest part for me was chocolate and sugar. Yip who doesn’t love a good splurge on sugar, crisps, ice-cream. But you know what, when I started to cut down on the all the bad stuff and replace it with more fruit, good sugars, other kinds of healthier biscuits that made a difference too!
Yes I know this sounds boring, exercising, cut out sweets – hardly the life of a typical teenager, but then I don’t consider myself a typical teenager. The point is none of us are typical teenagers – we are products of ourselves. This is my body, I want to rock the world with my singing and I am not going to let my little chum ‘asthma’ ruin my chances. In fact I would go as far as to say we are pals now. We clearly can’t live without each other so we make the best of it and what a time we are having. Sure we have the odd disagreement and the inhalers are never out of sight or mind but hey, there’s a storm coming and she’s gathering speed and these wee babies will not be holding me back any longer!
So make your lungs your best friends, but stand up to them, be the best and strongest you can be and I promise you, you won’t look back! It’s not easy, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to marching into my room in a bad mood, but once I turned the corner and really started to see my fitness and performance improve radically, I never looked back. Neither will you!
P.S Just for the record – I am no saint all the time – Galaxy chocolate is another friend of mine – a wee reward every now and again!
Tallia Storm is a 13-year old (soon to be 14 year old as of the writing of this post!) Scottish R&B soul singer, and asthmatic! The fashionable Tallia was famously discovered and opened for Elton John upon a personal invitation, performed at the 2012 Scottish Fashion Awards, and is a guest blogger for Huffington Post Teen.
We sincerely thank Tallia for helping us raise awareness about asthma, and wish her a Happy Birthday tomorrow!