Adventures in Carpentry: Oh, THAT Dust Allergy!

Last updated: March 2021

Among many of the random camps, I attended during my middle school summers, one such camp was a week long, half-day woodworking camp. If I remember correctly, I did not actually do much of my own project (thanks, instructor guy), and left with a half-finished easel which still probably remains in my grandma’s garage, unfinished and unhinged.

Thus, my carpentry skills are, you know, lacking. But they are existent, as I occasionally find myself wielding a drill and looking as if I know what I am doing.

Now it’s probably close to fifteen years later, I am about nine years into the asthma thing, and I am attempting another totally ridiculous carpentry project, which on one Saturday in February involved five hours of work, plus a trip to the local Habitat ReStore, dollar store, Home Depot, and my grandma’s house seeking a two-by-four or some such. Actually, I did not even think of this easel endeavor for all the painting I do[not do] while I was in my grandma’s garage seeking wood for the latest carpentry endeavor. I am building a cheap, moveable, makeshift goalball net. (For those unfamiliar, AKA the majority of people, goalball nets are like GIANT soccer nets that are 4 feet high and nearly 30 feet long. They cost about $2,000 each, and are also difficult to store, making them a hard sell for a variety of reasons. So that’s why I am undertaking this absurd project.)

Asthma triggers and carpentry

Now, of course, this post is not about the project itself, but instead about the Oh… THAT dust allergy realization I have each time I do some sort of woodworking-esque project. Or multiple times during such a project. As a person who does not deal with much in terms of allergies, remembering that I do have a dust allergy is pretty far from my mind. As such, I do not put a face mask on as a precaution as I begin to saw. Rather, about 10 minutes in considering my shortness of breath, whether as a byproduct of hacksaw induced exertion or sawdust and take a couple hits on my inhaler and keep going, briefly contemplating going upstairs to tie a bandanna around my face and then stubbornly… not doing so.

Then, I go and take a break, visit my aunt for dinner, and snag a few surgical-type face masks from a box in her doorway, as I figure they are easier to breathe in than the hardcore ones that are in my upstairs closet at home. I don’t know if it’s an asthmatic thing or not, but I hate the feeling when a face mask obstructs my breathing, even though that is kind of the point, and figure that the surgical type ones are sufficient but also from experience know they are more breathable.

So what do I do when I get home? Oh yes, get right back down to work sawing the new piece of wood from my grandma’s basement, and drilling, and hammering and… not wearing one of the masks I brought home with me. Best of intentions, I guess! I can’t remember if I needed to use my inhaler again, but while definitely not a typical allergic reaction, one of my hands did become quite red, as visible in this picture I sent to my assistant coach:


Apparently, in addition to managing this dust allergy, I also need some work on hammering straight, because this actually did not end up in the piece of wood I intended it to!

Premedication to manage asthma triggers

So, what did I learn? Pre-medicating before attempting carpentry-type activities is probably a good idea if you have any sort of dust allergy (or exercise-induced asthma given the intensity at which I was sawing), actually using the mask you bring home is also probably useful, AND that I clearly need more practice at this activity. And maybe trying to build a goalball net for under $35 CAD ($26.50 USD) is a ridiculous idea.

I am not sure what the next carpentry adventure will be (beyond a second goalball net), but masks are now on my dresser... and will probably be lost by the next time I want them. ;)

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