Looking through a window at a lamp shaped like an inhaler with a tree and dog in the background

An Asthmatic Christmas Story

Several holiday seasons ago I wrote an article about a terrible asthma episode I had while traveling to Michigan to be with family for Christmas. It was a really difficult ordeal and if you want to know more about that, check it out here. This is about another holiday season, though. As if history was destined to repeat, this particular year was an asthmatic attack anniversary reimagining! As an asthmatic reader, you may identify with and enjoy the comical twists that led to yet another holiday flare-up. Let’s start from the beginning, about a week before Christmas.

Rescue inhalers are great!

I am a very passionate climber. I am essentially addicted to the dance and discipline of climbing. While in my parent's hometown, I went to the local climbing gym to satisfy my cravings. The climbing was great, but to my disappointment, the air quality was fairly poor. Most climbing gyms have air filtration systems to keep chalk and dust out of the air, a very appreciated technology by any asthmatic climber. Unfortunately, this gym did not. So, after my session of climbing, I was in serious need of my rescue inhaler.

It was in my backpack, where it is always supposed to be. I took two puffs and felt much better. My family watched and remarked on how bad the last year had been for my asthma because my inhaler was expired when I really needed it. They passed my up-to-date inhaler around, jokingly double-checking the expiration date and how many doses were left. Then left it on the counter, in plain sight.

My sister's new dog and my asthma

Last year, just after the holidays, my sister and her husband adopted a dog. Jasper is a very cute mix of Australian Shepherd and what they were told was a poodle. They thought it would be great because he was supposed to be hypoallergenic for me to be around! It turns out, ironically, he is anything but hypoallergenic and is probably the most allergy-triggering dog I’ve been around in years. He would be with us from Christmas Eve through the 26th.

The other thing to know about Jasper is he is abnormally smart and mischievous. So, the whole house was cleaned and “jasper-proofed”. Meaning everything was taken off of counters so he could not grab things and run away with them. My inhaler was there.

Rescue inhalers are great…if you can find them

We have a Christmas morning tradition in my family. As ridiculous as it has gotten over the years, while we have gone from little tikes to fully grown adults, the tradition is to gather on my parents' bed to unload our stockings of all their stuffings. As all 6 of us, my family and our partners, crowded on the bed and unloaded our stockings, Jasper was excitedly there with us, giving me some allergy issues. This was ok until the presents coming out of everyone's stockings were scented and potent. The mixture of dog dander, crowded bed of people, and patchouli became too much. I felt my wheeze come on and my chest tighten, so decided I needed my rescue inhaler.

I left the room and went to the kitchen where my inhaler was last seen on the counter. It was not there. 'Where could it be?' I thought. 'Did I put it back in my backpack without remembering?' That would have been the smart thing to do, but it was not there either. I checked all the drawers and cabinets. It was nowhere to be seen, so I went back to my family to ask them if they had seen it. They saw the alarm on my face and heard the wheeze in my voice; they quickly sprang to life, leaving their morning coffee, to help in the frantic search. No jacket, car door, bedroom drawer, or couch cushion was left unchecked. No luck, no inhaler.

My family and their help

Luckily for me, my sister was diagnosed with asthma earlier in the year. However, she realized she left her inhaler at her house across town. (Keeping our inhalers close is apparently a weak point in our family.) So, my sister hopped in her car and raced home to get her inhaler just in case we could not find mine. It was a good thing she did, too, because it was the 28th as I was writing this and we had not yet found my inhaler. While we waited for her to get back, my breathing got slightly better, with a cup of hot coffee and being removed from the triggers in some fresh cool air on the porch. My family continued to search for my inhaler, double-checking every crevice. After about a half-hour, my sister came through the door with an inhaler, of identical prescription to mine, and a spacer in hand! Sweet relief.

Lesson learned from Christmases past

It would seem that I have a habit of inhaler troubles around the holidays. One year, an expired inhaler, and the next year, a lost inhaler. The lesson I've learned is to keep your family close and your inhalers closer (and in date); you never know when you will need them!

It is the season of gratitude and giving thanks, so, I would like to resolve by saying what I am grateful for. I am thankful for my rescue inhalers and all the times they have saved me. I am also so thankful for my family, my partner, and their support of my asthma. If you have a holiday asthma story you would like to share, or something you are grateful for, we would love to hear from you as well.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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