Dealing With Discussing Your Asthma
Just when you think you have had all the awkward discussions about your asthma, there comes another. This afternoon I attended a family event. I forgot that I could track my asthma trends by the details the last nosy family member received. First let me put a couple of disclaimers out there, I generally love my family and my many extended family members. I understand that people are just trying to help or be thoughtful, however unsolicited advice, is just that. UNSOLICITED and although it comes from a loving place, it is not always appropriate. Lastly, at this stage there is currently no cure for asthma. It is true that some people may try and offer you one, or a story about someone they know who cured theirs.
Discussing asthma with your family can be challenging
Let me set the scene for you. It was a lovely summer afternoon party, celebrating a milestone event. My family is a bit of an instant party. We are a lot of people and to a certain degree, we are large and in charge. There were many people milling about that I have not seen in quite some time. I will confess, that perhaps I am getting a bit older and the guests were also getting older. I honestly, did not recognize a few people. This lead to a higher than usual volume of small talk and dancing to possibly figure out who I was talking to. Have I mentioned that my family really likes to cut a rug? Or engage in prompt sing alongs. I have on occasion needed a little bit of extra rescue inhaler to get through the dance-a-thon. It did not take long for me to be engulfed into the "how are you?, what's new? how is your health?, are you still dealing with that asthma thing?" conversation. Ugh, I was in the midst of that conversation, looking for anyone to come rescue me, of course no one was making eye contact with me to come to my rescue. This led to a series of slightly uncomfortable discussions about my asthma and why it is so bad.
It is somewhat funny when people jump to such high degrees of conclusions that they are not even close to describing what ails you. There is a remote family member that has a very serious lung disease LAM (lymphangioleiomyomatosis) which for the record is not asthma, although a family member did try and confuse the two of these. Talking about illness definitely makes some people uncomfortable, they want to be kind and considerate. Do them a favor and give them an out. It is almost like you can see the wheels turning in people brains to grasp on to something to relate to. I find that giving them a quick highlight on how you are doing usually can shut the awkward conversation done.
Pick and choose, what and how much you share about your asthma
My tips for making this process a lot less painful is to just recap the highlights. Know your audience, if you have a nosy aunt that it would best to just give them the broad strokes, paint that picture for her. This is also a great opportunity to do a bit of education on what asthma is, and what it is not. You also get to demystify all the "cures" that people will advise you on. Such as if you stopped eating (insert any of the above or all the above, dairy, wheat, sugar, carrots...etc). It a great opportunity to talk a little physiology at the dinner table. People are generally quick to listen and speak less when they are receiving information. You can even ask them "a time when they felt unwell", if you need to explain the severity of symptoms or activity limitations. While these tips may not alway prevent unwanted discussions, then can at least put you in the drivers seats during them.
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