two people in a crowd reaching out for each other

Do I Know My Fellow Asthmatics or What? 

I have been off work for ten days. I vacationed with my kids in Florida. We had a great time, and I feel totally refreshed. I came back to work to find that a new floor had been inserted in the hallways outside our department while I was gone. And, of course, it had a strong smell. My initial thought was: “This can’t be good for me and my fellow asthmatics.”

I love the smell of new flooring. How do you describe it? It smells fresh and new. It is like the smell of spring. It’s new. It’s fresh. It smells good. But, that does not mean it is good for asthmatics. As spring also brings about pollen. And pollen triggers asthma.

Just like that strong smell of new flooring may trigger asthma for some people. It could be the smell itself that triggers asthma. But, it might also be chemical sensitivities. And this is what I was thinking as my coworker sent me a text. “Where are you? Are you in the department or EKG room?”

The impact of the smell

As my regular readers may well know, I am a respiratory therapist (RT). I work in a hospital.

Of course, I am in the respiratory therapy department. So that is the location I told her I was at. And then I realized that the department was dark when I entered. I had to turn on all the lights to see. And it was also remarkably clean. So, I remembered our staff was going to be relocated while the flooring was done. So, that’s what I figured she meant by wondering where I was.

Several moments later my coworker rushed into the department. She is the night shift respiratory therapist. And she hurriedly said,  “I’m going to give you a flash report, and then I’m out of here. The smell of the new flooring is bothering my asthma. So I’m holding my breath as we speak. I spent the night in here until around seven last night. And then that smell started bothering my asthma. So, I spent the night hanging out with the nurses in the unit.” By “unit” she was referring to the Critical Care Unit. That is also my favorite hangout place when I am not in the RT department.

She rushed to the refrigerator. Grabbed a few things. Stuffed them into a bag. Then she opened the closet door. Grabbed her coat. Put it on. And said, “Only one of our patients is scheduled for treatments. And she doesn’t need them. And that is our lady in the unit. She is the only patient there. And we also have a patient on North. And she has COVID and is a DNR.”

The term DNR is an acronym for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is a term to let us know the patient has decided she does not want heroic measures to be taken if her heart stops beating. She does not want chest compressions. She does not want to be intubated and placed on a mechanical ventilator. I always think of DNR status as a patient deciding to go out with grace and dignity when the time comes. But that is a discussion for another day.

My coworker continued, “You will also see we have one patient on the floor.” By “floor” she means in one of the patient rooms on the general patient floor. “She is on 100% oxygen and her oxygen saturations are running about 85%.” This is a low oxygen saturation. For COVID patients, normal is anything above 88%. “But because she is a DNR we aren’t doing much for her other than the oxygen to make her comfortable. So, that’s my report. Do you mind if I rush out of here?”

I said, “No problem. Get out of here and take care of yourself. Sorry, you are having issues with your asthma.”

“I knew you would understand.” She said.

Of course, I think to say, we are fellow asthmatics. But before I get a chance to say anything, she rushes out the door and it slams. Thus letting it be known that she is all business when it comes to her asthma. As well as she should.

And this gave me an idea for an article.

Fellow asthmatics, colleagues, friends

Here I sit at my computer writing for the first time in over ten days. I had no plans to do this today. I had no plans to write. It is neat how life just throws things at you. And in this case, my coworker, unknowingly I suppose, gave me this article idea.

But she knows I do this. My asthmatic coworkers all know I do this. And we often talk about asthma. It is neat having fellow asthmatics to talk to. As a matter of fact, my dayshift colleague comes in in a couple of hours. She is also a fellow asthmatic. She just got approved for a biologic called Fasenra. It will be neat to hear how she is doing with that.

And I also have a third asthmatic coworker. We all have asthma. We all experience it in our own unique ways. We all have similar but different asthma experiences. We all have similar but different asthma treatment regimens. And we talk about it openly. It’s good therapy, I think.

It’s great to have asthma friends. It’s neat to have friends you can talk to about your asthma. It’s great to have people who know what it’s like. I am fortunate to have three fellow asthmatic coworkers right here in my own department.

What about you? Do you have asthmatic friends you talk to about asthma? Please let us know 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 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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