At 50, I conquered the Mountains, Ocean, Land and Acute Asthma

12:16 PM Apr 21, 2022 | Team Udayavani |

I had my first asthma attack in 1988 just after my graduation. Luckily, the symptoms did not persist and within a week or so with medication, life was as usual.


However, the allergies surfaced again probably due to a change of city, post my marriage in 1993; unfortunately,  the attacks became more frequent and acute thereafter.

At times it used to be so severe that I had to take steroids. There seem to be no respite from asthma, it was extremely laborious for me to walk even a 50-meter stretch without panting heavily.

Asthma attacks became acute when both my children were barely out of pre-school, that itself was a very difficult phase of my life, draining me emotionally and physically. Due to the strong steroid doses, I gained almost 20 kgs.

It was difficult for everyone in my family to see me in that condition, especially my daughter who used to get frightened every time I had a wheezing attack and my rasping breath was loud and audible. A heart-wrenching memory from 2000, is clearly etched on my mind- The fear-stricken expressions of my 6-year-old daughter & 5-year-old son staring at my prostate wheezing body, as I gasped for breath.


Then of course was my work life; I was determined to add to the family kitty simply because I was capable of doing so. I dabbled between WFH, and part-time vocation till  I joined Orchids International School in 2014; it was a dream job- setting up the training vertical and taking care of the training needs of others. But I had to quit it, despite my successful 6 months in the organization, because of health issues.

When I realized that acute Asthma had taken over my life completely, I decided to take matters into my hands. Interestingly, my family doctor suggested my asthma is more likely because of anxiety and stress.

Within 6 months of deep breathing exercises on a daily basis, the Asthma-grip on my lungs loosened. This was followed by regular swimming and then I dared to do the unimaginable- Running.

In 2015, I ran my first Half-Marathon, from there on I have not looked back. My challenges became my achievements. Ever hungry to test my limits, I decided to dive underwater, as scuba diving is a big ‘No No’ for asthmatics.

To commemorate my golden jubilee,  I completed a Scuba diving course, went down  20-Meters  below sea level, and swam with an incredibly bountiful and colorful aquatic life. When I look back I see just undiluted delight at having become a certified scuba diver!

It turned out to be a life-changing decision as my steroid requirement decreased drastically and I only needed to use the asthalin inhaler which also became a seldom occurrence. Now I am back at Orchids and it has been more than a year of extremely satisfying training sessions, supporting the different teams- Academics, Operations & Sales- for their professional development

Recently I celebrated my 50th birthday and it was a rather extraordinary celebration for a 50-year-old female with a history of acute asthma. After my experience with severe challenges, I wanted to do something which will not only be a milestone in my life but also give confidence to women like me.

I decided to Go High up a mountain and dive deep into the sea. For the former, I joined a group of experienced trekkers who gave me a training plan to be fighting fit before climbing the Himalayas, for the latter I registered for a scuba diving course. And on 27th Feb, ( 2 days after a surprise party organized by my lawyer daughter on my 50th birthday), I left for the Andamans for my deep-sea diving certificate.

A month later, on 27th March, I climbed Sandakphu, a 3636 Meter tall peak in the Himalayan ranges. Naturally, my family was scared and did not want me to do such dare-devilry but these were such tantalizing feats, that I was determined. I was convinced that if I want I can achieve it and I did!

My children and  my  father- who was in the Indian Army and actively fought in the ’65 & ‘71 wars were my motivation to fight my personal war against these debilitating Asthma attacks.

One of my favorite songs “Main Zindagi ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya” from  Dev Anand’s film Hum Dono sums up my life philosophy. I would like to tell everyone that it is all about mind over matter; the body will do whatever you ask it to. Now, at the age of 53, I feel I am fitter than many 30 years olds and probably not as fit as some of fellow runners who are in their 70s.

At 50+ years if I can defeat asthma with minor lifestyle changes and commitment to a cause, anyone can do it!

Anupma Diddi, Training Head- B2B,  at LetsEduvate. 


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