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Changing Plans When One's Asthma is Not Cooperating

My partner and I live a very active lifestyle: we rock climb, play tennis, go on hikes, and love to travel. He has lived with asthma since birth and has luckily been able to learn how to manage his asthma as an adult.
Despite this, he of course has asthma flare-ups and attacks from time to time. When this happens, we typically have to change our plans and do something that is more mellow than our normal activities.

Step one: assess and manage asthma

If he is experiencing a flare-up, he will take his inhaler. Often, after struggling to breathe well, he will feel tired. If he takes his inhaler at night, it might keep him awake. Therefore, the lack of sleep will cause him to be tired in the morning.

He will assess his energy levels, and determine what he is capable of for the day. First thing in the morning, he always makes a strong cup of coffee, or if we are traveling, we go to a coffee shop. A warm beverage like coffee feels soothing on his airways, and coffee is actually considered to be a mild bronchodilator.1

Step two: acceptance

We might have travel or social plans, or a fun day in the works, but asthma does not care about that. In fact, my partner's asthma flare-ups seem to occur at the most inconvenient times. When we are traveling, we are exposed to new environments, going into family or friends' houses, and meeting new people. We often have little control over what triggers we might be exposed to, whether it be a fragrance-filled store or extremely humid weather.

It is totally possible for an asthma flare-up or attack to happen whenever and wherever. Therefore, we have just learned to accept whatever comes our way and deal with it to the best of our abilities. My partner accepts that he may not be capable of participating in our original plans, and then we move on to part three: alternative plans.

Step three: alternative plans

If we had plans but have to cancel or postpone them, we still try to do an enjoyable activity together. It can often be disappointing to do this while traveling somewhere new, but we know whatever activity won't be as fun if he is having a hard time breathing or feeling fatigued. More often than not, he just needs a day to do mellow activities and feels almost back to 100 percent the following day. Here are a few enjoyable activities we do if we need to take it easy:

  • Go on a slow walk
  • Visit a museum or botanical garden
  • Visit a new brewery or winery
  • Stay in and watch a movie
  • Check out a new coffee shop or bakery
  • Visit a local bookstore
  • Find a park to read a book in and sit in the sun

Conclusion

If you live with asthma or any chronic illness for that matter, it is inevitable that you have had to cancel or change your plans. It can be a letdown to be faced with this, but no fear - there are different ways to go about your day. After managing your asthma flare-up, you can accept how your body is feeling, and then plan the rest of your day accordingly.

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