Asthma and an Ice Storm

Asthma and an Ice Storm

I had been looking forward to traveling to Seattle (from Indiana) to attend the US Asthma Summit for months. This one day conference put on by the Allergy and Asthma Network brings attendees up to date on all of the latest and greatest advancements and current challenges in the asthma world.

Being a respiratory therapist and a severe asthmatic myself, I love to attend conferences and learn as much as I can as often as physically possible.

Anxiety and asthma

What I enjoy about medicine is that it is always evolving and changing for the better. There are always new and improved medications coming on the market as well as non-medical treatment options as well. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and didn't get much sleep the night before my flight.

When my alarm went off painfully early the next morning I checked the weather report to learn we were under an ice storm warning. Not what I wanted to hear as we had to drive 2 hours south to catch my flight out of a larger city than I live in.

I was already on edge as we drove extremely slow and cautiously down the highway to the airport. Being born and raised in Southern California my entire life and relocating to the Midwest in the spring of 2017, this was my first real ice storm experience. It was AWFUL.

Stress and asthma don't mix

I am not an anxious person at all but this drive had me downright scared. My husband is an excellent driver and we were going really slow so - we were totally fine - but it was still a nerve-wracking experience.

Once we got to the airport I was completely frazzled and shaky. While I was walking into the airport I was having a hard time breathing. I doubt I actually did much breathing on the drive down because I was so nervous. Stress and asthma don't mix. I had my rescue inhaler in my bag and I used it which helped a ton.

In-flight triggers

Once on the airplane we were delayed due to the ice storm and needed to wait for the plane to be de-iced before we could take off. By this time we had been sitting in the plane on the tarmac for over four hours. The air circulation was terrible and several times there was an overwhelming smell of engine exhaust wafting throughout the plane. Thankfully I had my fabric vented face mask (I have a vogmask, but there are many styles and types that can be purchased online) in my bag, and I was able to put that on to help filter out the smell and sudden bad air quality.

I found myself sitting there and just focusing on my breathing and I was able to get it under control along with my rescue inhaler. By the time the plane finally took off, I was breathing comfortably and fell asleep from the sheer and utter exhaustion from my early morning fiasco. I ended up sleeping for almost the entire four and a half hour flight and woke up when the captain announced that we would be beginning our descent into Seattle.

I got off the plane and still took it easy the rest of the day to be sure my asthma would rear its ugly head once more. I had the best time at the Asthma Summit the following day, and was very thankful that even though getting there was rough, I was prepared with my inhalers and face mask and took the appropriate steps to help keep myself breathing easy.

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