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Archive for the ‘Asthma’ Category

I am back from my business trip and generally had a really good time. I was up in the mountains, and despite the altitude (~7,000 feet) I got in a fair amount of walking. And it snowed! I haven’t seen snow is years, so that was a rare treat (even if it meant the trails were too muddy for hiking). I had packed a windbreaker and layers, so other than having to buy a hat I was well-prepared for the weather. I hadn’t, however, taken into account that Utah is officially in the Southwest, and garlic is used to season almost everything.

If you’re new to my blog (and I’ll admit, I don’t talk about it often), but I have a fairly severe allergy to garlic. As in “my-throat-closes-up-and-I-can’t-breathe-carry-two-EpiPens” kind of allergic. I can usually tolerate a little dried garlic if it’s mixed into pre-packaged food (anything with “spices” on the boxes probably has trace garlic in it), as long as I don’t do it too often. The Southwest is pretty blatant about their garlic usage, so it’s easy to identify but hard to avoid. There was a “food allergy buffet” (lots of gluten-free, etc. foods) but 4/5 had garlic in it, and the 5th was pork (no pork or red meat either- sometimes it amazes me that I weigh as much as I do). It’s a rare allergy so I did notify the conference folks ahead of time, but I ended up having a cheese quesadilla and frenched fries that meal.

Speaking of, you know that I’m lactose intolerant, right? Even lactaid can only save me so much. I am currently going completely dairy-free for a few days/weeks until my body settles down.

None of this is really a surprise though- I came prepared with lots of me-friendly snacks and oatmeal so I could make breakfast in my room; every other meal I was able to find good alternatives, and every other single thing about the resort was amazing. They were super-kind about my feather allergy, swapping out my comforter, checking all my pillows and bringing me an extra blanket (which I ended up needing when the snow started!). I did them leave feedback, both good and bad, and especially praising the chef and server who helped with my food issues.

To be honest, I don’t think of my allergies and dietary restrictions as being particularly major or, well, restricting. It was just one of those cases where I’m reminded that I’ve shaped my immediate environs so I don’t need to worry about these things on a regular basis. The joys and tribulations of leaving your comfort-bubble, right?

As for other health stuff, my right hip was pretty bad the whole trip, which was very disappointing. The plane ride out was painful and I never quite 100% recovered from it (maybe just as well I didn’t try hiking after all). I also never managed distilled water for my CPAP and learned that dry air causes things to evaporate faster, so I need to refill more often. I had the usual dry-air problems: dry skin and nosebleeds, but I never needed to use my inhaler which I count as a win! Staying hydrated avoided any altitude sickness headaches as well, so go, me!

You’ll notice that I haven’t said anything about the actual conference so far- this is long enough so I’ll make it a separate post. I also have PICTURES! So I’ll post some of those as well. Stay tuned!

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Allergy Shots

Well, something happened (that didn’t take long, did it?). Starting tomorrow I go in for my weekly allergy shot for ant venom. These notes are a reminder to myself, but if you’re curious about how the whole allergy shot thing works or have some in your future- this might be useful (or scary).

I don’t need an appointment (yay!), I just show up during shot hours, which are early morning or late afternoon: I will most likely go Wednesdays since they are open until 6:30 and I can just stop by after work. Tuesdays at 4:30 is my second choice.

  • T 8-11:30 or 1:30-4:30
  • W 12-6:30
  • F 8-10
  • I need to hang out in the office for a half hour afterward, to make sure there isn’t any adverse reaction. Note to self: bring laptop, book, or both.
  • If I get stung, I don’t need a shot that week. (heh)
  • If my asthma is flaring up, call them before I come in.
  • I’ve already met my deductible for the year. If I remind them around November, they’ll refill my order for the new year before it rolls over- very nice of them! I already put a note on my calendar.
  • No exercise for one hour before or two hours after. The before isn’t much of a problem- after won’t be an issue until I get the okay from my podiatrist to swim and walk again. I’ll then try and exercise after dinner. Since I live in Florida, it’s cooler at that time, anyway.

Other things:

I am in love with my prescription sunglasses. They’re my first pair ever and rocking my world. Pricey, but worth it. Less squinting! Yay! Now I just have to remember to put them on (and take them off when I come inside!).

I also found some notes. Back in March I was tracking my weight and managed to lose six pounds. Life happened and the weight came back with friends. (That’s my problem, my fat is too friendly!) Even with ups and down I gained 13 pounds since then. I’ve already managed to shed six of those pounds, so I hope to stay on track this time. I am almost back to where I started four months ago- I’ll call that a win.

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Fun in the Sun

Yesterday was my department’s annual picnic (ah- the joys of living in Florida!). Unfortunately, the day did not get off to auspicious start. When I left home I realised the morning haze was actually low-lying smoke from a nearby burn (ah- the “joys” of living in Florida). It was widespread enough that it was smoky when I reached work as well. By the time I got to my desk I needed my inhaler (for the first time since the infamous Airplane Incident). Not a full-on attack, but I was fairly wheezy and then I had steroid jitters from the inhaler. *sigh* It made two hours of early meetings somewhat less than fun, especially since I didn’t want to brave the smoke for my favourite tea. I shut up the office and sent my team over to the picnic while I wrapped up some things, just to have a last minute support request come in. I took a quick look at the issue and opened a ticket (most likely an outdated browser) and headed on over.

The smoke had cleared off and while it was cool and breezy it was warm enough in the sun. We ate ourselves silly and then were divided into teams doing relay races, tug of war, and more crazy stuff like that. My team won! I have a sash and everything- I’m going to hang it up in my office.  :} Unfortunately, traffic was awful getting home, so leaving early still put me home about my usual time. I made dinner, set up the snow village, and finished my international letters.

I headed out early this morning to the post office to buy postage for everything and drop things in the mail before the office even opened- I love those automated machines! On my way out an elf driving Santa and Mrs. Claus cruised by so I waved and they waved back- it was very silly and made me smile! I decided to stop by the Coffee Chain place and ran into a barrista I knew from another store. We caught up a bit and I had tea with a slice of yummy pumpkin cake. I read my book for a bit, then headed home with a stop to put gas in my car. A very productive morning! Once hubby is up I will vacuum and start putting up the tree. Yay!

I did have a wistful moment yesterday- I received a baby shower invite for a dear friend who lives out in Denver. Hubby expressed that he’d be supportive if I decided to fly out for the weekend and surprise her. I gave it some serious thought and checked prices, but I have been strictly budgeting money, time and energy and as much as I’d love to go it would put me in the red for all three. I already sent a gift and we chat online often, but it would be wonderful to see her- maybe once the baby is born and things settle down a bit for everyone. *muses*

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Perils of Travel

Well, we am 1/4 of the way to our vacation. Our first flight took us 1,000 miles north. The next will take us 3,000 miles west. We’re killing time after a yummy lunch. Unfortunately, I had an incident on the first flight.

You know those air fresheners in the airplane restrooms? Well, I had a massive reaction to one. I went in and initially thought it was awfully strong, then my chest began to close up- it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. My allergies were bad this morning but I had already dosed all my usual precautions- I expected the air fresheners but I sure didn’t expect this.

I finished got out as quickly s possible only to fall gasping in the aisle. Thankfully one of the attendants was right there (apparently its not uncommon for folks to have panic attacks in those things since that was their first question). I was able to gasp out “inhaler” and my row. They brought my backpack and I got the puffs in time.

Everyone was incredibly helpful with water, oxygen, and helping me manage my meds. It’s not the worst reaction I’ve ever had, but it was a pretty sudden one (I still have a splitting headache). I sometimes take things like my asthma and anaemia for granted since they are mostly controlled- it’s always a shock when I’m caught off-guard.

In all, I’m okay but very, very tired. We have a long flight west during which I plan to catch some sleep. Hopefully I have gotten my health unhappiness out of the way early on this trip *crosses fingers*.

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I am pretty lucky in that I work in a health-conscious office. I’ve already written about fundraising for the Relay for Life and training for the Corporate 5k with my coworkers. At office events there is always vegetarian and health-conscious options. I brought in a microwave and mini fridge so I can have fresh and hot food for lunch, and there are plenty of healthy options for food on campus (although I try to limit myself because it’s not cheap, and there are lots of tempting, unhealthy options, too!). We also have a water club for folks who don’t like the water fountain- I have a Brita water pitcher and electric kettle stashed in my office to meet those needs.

This week is spring break for us, so the office is relatively quiet. We’ve spent the past two days cleaning the office, rearranging, and getting ready for the new hires who will hopefully start soon. This has been a much bigger project than you might imagine.

You see, I work in one of the only basements in Florida. The building is older, and the air circulation is not great (which is a gross understatement). We almost had to argue for building maintenance to come and clean our vents, and you must submit a work request for them to come vaccum (you can bet that I did!). Three of us in my office have respiratory issues, and another employee is getting over a killer sinus infection. Sure there’s pollen and wildfires contributing to the poor air quality, but I’d hope that we could keep the inside somewhat clean.

We do have an air filter and clean it regularly, and just invested in Clorox Wipes for the office (and Febreeze- one of my employees smokes, but I’ll save that for another post). Even though we clean fairly regularly, the dust still accumulates remarkably fast. (Because of the technical equipment, the cleaning service is not supposed to clean surfaces- good for computers, but bad for those of us who work here.)

So here’s my query- what else do you to keep healthy at work? We normally do not share workstations, and if someone is out sick we wipe down surfaces with the Clorox wipes. Any other suggestions? I try to keep as pleasant a workplace as possible, and helping my staff stay healthy is part of that, but with limited space and budget, I’m not sure what my other options are.

(I wish this was my office! We have no windows, being in a basement…)

Image from We Heart It

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Just a few odds-and-ends kicking around inside my brain-pan today:

  • I really need to put my medical bracelet back on or start wearing my sport bracelet, since I can take that one off and on by myself.
  • Must get dates for the controlled burns by work so I know when I will have bad asthma days.
  • Try the dental-floss picks and see if they’re any good. Cranky hands make for poor oral hygiene. Possibly write a product review.
  • Buy more earplugs. Possibly write a product review of silicone plugs which are effective but icky.
  • Pick up prescriptions from pharmacy tomorrow. Whee- just how I want to spend my Friday night.
  • Start paraffin bath as soon as I get home so I can treat my hands tonight- this makes me happy.  :}
  • Schedule my sonogram and bloodwork for endocrinologist.
  • File GI contact in my medical file- things are going better but I don’t want to lose the info.
  • Schedule a massage!
  • Don’t forget lab work appointment for the rheumatologist today after work.
  • Need to change the bedsheets and vacuum today to try and cut down on whatever is making my allergies crazy.
  • Call mom and find out how they’re weathering the snow with her broken wrist.
  • Put away clean clothes.
  • Get hubby’s new work #.
  • List of houses to view to realtor.

And in little, fun things, one of the student groups on campus was selling long-stem roses for a dollar to raise money for Relay for Life, so I got myself a yellow rose and made my day 100% happier. I got myself a super-yummy (if not particularly healthy) lunch, and someone wrote on the pavement in pink chalk: “Don’t step on the cracks- they’re lava!” I tried to take a picture and failed, but it still made me smile. :}

Images from WeHeartIt.

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M is for Migraine

Hopefully, you won’t see me write much here about migraines. Thanks to careful management I experience migraines much less often than I used to, and the right treatment now minimizes the impact they have on my ability to function. Unfortunately, I haven’t shaken them entirely, and today I’ve been flirting with one most of the day.

Any day that I wake up with a stiff neck I know to start watching for migraine signs. Sometimes a sore neck is enough to trigger a migraine all by itself, but I’ve found ways to minimize the chance. A year or so ago I bought an ergonomic pillow- one of the wavy “memory foam” ones. This has been a huge help in avoiding neck stiffness. I’ve found, though, that the memory foam needs to “rest” for a couple days every once in a while, or else it gets too soft. It may just be that it’s time to get a new one- I haven’t decided yet.

Gentle stretches in the morning can help get past any neck stiffness, but if a headache persists I know that I need to take steps. I’ve had to adjust the progressive treatment for my migraines to work around other medications, and some things don’t work as well as they used to, so there’s still some guessing involved. At one end of the spectrum is food and light caffeine, in the middle is Ibuprofen and a decongestant, and at the far end is Treximet (with other steps in-between). I’m managing my migraines well enough now that I only need to resort to Treximet once every three months or so (which is a good thing since it’s so darn expensive).

Today was a borderline day. Sometimes light exercise will help, other times it can make things worse. I was hoping for the first and ended up with the second. Unfortunately, I am sensitive to artificial scents at the best of times- when I’m skirting a migraine they’re a killer. The gym at our apartment complex went a little overboard with the holiday cinnamon scent today, and my head was pounding almost as soon as I walked in the door. I stayed on the treadmill for my minimum (20 minutes or 1.25 miles, whichever comes first) and then got out. The cool air outside helped immensely and I took something as soon as I got home. I’m really annoyed that I felt well enough to work out but still couldn’t do much due to headache and air freshener.

And, really, this is a terrible time of year if you are sensitive to smells in any way. A combination of allergies, asthma, and migraines make artificial scents pretty much a bad idea for me at any time. I skirt the perfume aisle and candle or bath shops just in case, but sometimes I’m caught by surprise. Twice in recent weeks someone went overboard with the air freshener in the restroom at work. The first time I ended up with a lungful and had a all-out asthma attack, scaring the daylights out of me and a few of my co-workers. I then had to go to a different part of the building to find a usable bathroom- it was a miserable experience, and rather embarrassing.

I’ve never really seen the point of artificially scenting your home. I remember how much I loved the smell of a school friend’s home, which always smelled like Indian spices and curry. Who would want to cover that up? I do like natural cinnamon scent, and baking or making hot mulled cider is my favourite way to fill the house with holiday scents. I’m not sure if I dislike artificial smells because I’m sensitive, or just because they seem unnecessary (maybe both).

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