Have You Been Excluded From Activities Due to Your Asthma? 

Last updated: November 2022

When you are living with a chronic disease, it seems that everyone else is always trying to monitor your activities. If you have diabetes, people might not let you eat that cookie. If you have insomnia, people may tell you to go to bed earlier. And if you have asthma, people may have a lot to say about what they think you can and cannot do.

Friends have excluded me due to my asthma

People in my life seem to have opinions about what will trigger my asthma and where it will be triggered. For instance, I was not invited to a hike with friends because they thought my lungs could not handle it.

I reminded my friends that although I have asthma, I have successfully hiked 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado. I have mountain biked in Moab, Utah. Certainly, I could have handled a flat hike through a regional park.

I appreciate their concern. I really do. However, I can make my own activity decisions. I should be the one who gets to decide if I am capable of a hike. I know they were coming from a good place, but I did not want them to exclude me based on their perception of my physical abilities. I was really hurt. Being excluded felt icky.

Their concern for my health is not consistent

As I sat with some friends for our weekly Friday Night Driveway Happy Hour (a tradition started during the pandemic to protect ourselves from COVID-19), the conversation was focused on dealing with anxiety. A friend said they found vaping was a good way to relieve debilitating anxiety. Another friend said, “Lorene, you could never do that with your asthma.”

This is very true. However, he said this while sitting next to me, smoking a cigar. He was blowing cigar smoke in my face. Why didn’t he connect the dots? Why didn’t he realize that secondhand smoke is just as toxic for me as firsthand smoke?

Everyone at the gathering was smoking cigars, except for me. They all know I have asthma, yet no one seemed concerned about how the cigar smoke would impact my health.

I didn’t speak up for myself because I didn’t want to be excluded again

I decided to stay at this gathering, even though I was afraid the smoke would bother me. After all, I drove almost two hours to get there in traffic, and like so many others, I am still feeling somewhat isolated thanks to the pandemic. I did not want to miss the opportunity to spend time with people in person.

As I drove home, I kept asking myself, "Why didn’t I say something? Why didn’t I ask them to smoke farther away from me?" Because I didn’t want to be seen as needy. As the one who ruins all the fun. The weak one. Even worse, the one they will exclude next time so I don’t spoil everyone else’s fun.

My message

Please don’t exclude people because they have asthma. Instead, tell them that you care about their health and safety. Let them decide if they can participate. And if they can't, it would be really lovely and appreciated if you found an activity that everyone could enjoy together, regardless of their physical health.

Have your friends or family ever excluded you from activities due to your asthma? What would you want them to know about how that made you feel? Tell us in the comments below.

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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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