My life is anything but ‘normal’ at the moment. I’m starting a new job in less than a month, planning for my wedding, and trying to keep up with some semblance of a social life.
When I climb into bed every night, I wonder how I’m going to make everything on my schedule work the next morning. With asthma, it can be even more complicated.
Here’s a look at what the day is like when you’re overcommitted, a fitness fanatic, a dog mom, a career woman and a person with asthma. It’s messy, challenging and beautiful — even if asthma is always at the back of my mind.
6:32 a.m.: Wake up
The alarm goes off and a loud grumble comes from the 90-pound German Shepherd mix sleeping next to me on her own bed. She hates waking up early, but happily follows me into the bathroom as I turn on the hot water.
I like my showers really hot and stay in the bathroom as long as possible to let the steam fill my lungs and jump-start my day.
With seriously chilly temperatures hitting the Midwest this winter, I can tell I’m starting to catch a cold so just like every day, I take one puff of my maintenance inhaler and my nasal spray, and head on my way.
I live in Chicago, which means it feels like the weather changes every 15 minutes. It could be snowing, raining, or sunny at any point throughout the winter season.
I try to prepare myself for the brisk 23-degree morning walk with my well-insulated, happy dog. I like to check the pollen count and air quality as well to see if there’s anything I need to adjust in my daily schedule.
While the cold doesn’t bother my dog one bit, the cool air burns my lungs.
8:30 a.m.: The workday begins
I recently accepted a new job, and I’m finishing out my last two weeks in my current position as a communications director for a start-up company. Since the organization is small, there are many things I need to take care of before I leave, and time is starting to run out.
The stress only exacerbates my asthma, as does the cold, so I have my rescue inhaler with me at all times these days.
I drink my dairy-free chai tea and have a small paleo breakfast quiche at my desk while answering emails in between each sip and bite.
I gave up coffee earlier this year, even though tea doesn’t have the same jolt of caffeine. I have calls all morning, so the day is going to go by quickly.
Noon: Lunch time
In 2018, I shifted my diet to eliminate inflammatory-causing foods and coffee, which means nearly everything served in the building cafeteria is off limits.
Bringing my lunch to work forces me to be more intentional. I eat my modest serving of chicken, roasted carrots, and asparagus with hummus on the side while texting my mom about the color of the napkins I’ll use for my upcoming wedding.
12:37 p.m.: Email break
My fiancé sends an email with information for our honeymoon. We’ve been talking about taking scuba lessons and getting certified before we go to Belize. I quickly search “can you scuba with asthma” and am led down a rabbit hole of results with mixed reviews.
Most interesting to me is a 2016 article published in the Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology journal.
It notes that people with asthma who wish to SCUBA should complete a diving evaluation focused on patient history, spirometry, allergy testing, and bronchial challenges.
For me, asthma means always planning ahead — even months in advance — to prepare for certain activities. My next meeting is coming up, so it’s time to save that research for another day.
3:15 p.m.: Sign up for a workout class
The day has been particularly busy, and I’m in need of some Zen, so I decide to sign up for a candlelight, hot-yoga class for tonight.
I’m a novice when it comes to yoga, but there’s something so comforting about the warm air, the dim lights, and achieving a sense of quiet and calm within the bustle of the city.
5 p.m.: Commute home
My current job is roughly an hour commute from my home, even though it’s technically only 10 miles away. Gotta love city living! I opt for public transport as it’s faster during rush hour than any alternative.
My only complaint is that there are so many people (and germs) packed on one train. It’s flu season, and there’s sneezing and sniffling all around me. No wonder I’ve been feeling a little under the weather!
6:25 p.m.: Dog walk and dinner time
My dog has a walker who comes during the day, so she’s not sitting alone counting the hours for me to come home. Even so, we typically go for long walks in the evening as we both could use a little wind-down time.
The route today has us stopping at the bodega for a few ingredients for dinner. I love that some of the stores near me are dog-friendly! When we get home, I make a quick dinner of roasted spaghetti squash and meat sauce before changing into my yoga clothes.
8 p.m.: Hot Yoga
The yoga studio is only two blocks away, but the walk feels further in the cold, dark night. I briskly walk over and take two puffs of my rescue inhaler before slipping off my shoes and putting my coat into a locker.
I bring my inhaler into the class because you never know what can happen. With the change in temperature from extreme cold to extreme heat, I don’t want to take any chances.
I slowly move through the poses. My mind wanders back to my earlier Google search on scuba diving with asthma.
I imagine the beauty of the Great Blue Hole in Belize and think about how upset I’ll be if I have to miss it. The class is over, and I bow my head with a “namaste” to the instructor. I hurry home for a quick shower before jumping into bed.
9:35 p.m.: Bedtime
Right before I climb into bed, I use my maintenance inhaler and set up my humidifier. The warm hum of the steam is enough to lull me to sleep. I’ve added a few drops of lavender to make my breathing a little easier.
My mind continues to wander as I hear the siren of an ambulance in the distance. For me, it’s comforting to know that the closest hospital is only a few blocks away.
Like I said: With asthma, you never know what can happen.
For more information on how to manage asthma, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
RESP-US-NP-00104 MAY 2019