Into the woods: Enjoying nature.

Into the woods: Enjoying nature

Last updated: March 2021

Outdoor Office

Today I come to you from my outdoor "office". The leaves are rustling, fall colors are just starting to turn, birds are chirping. It is a nice place to sit and write and get away from it all. Of course, the woods are not without their asthma triggers. I'll be headed straight home to the shower after this to wash off all the pollen mother nature is sharing with me. I'll let you in on the secret of these woods: it's an urban forest preserve in a local park. A quarter of a mile's walk down the path and other than traffic noise in the distance and you'd never know that you are in the middle of the city. I'm less than 2 miles from shops, restaurants, and all the trappings of city living. I have full bars of LTE cell coverage. It's the best of both worlds.

I enjoy nature responsibly. Before I head out into the woods I check the weather forecast not only to figure out what kind of clothes are appropriate but also to find out pollen counts, mold spore levels, and what the air quality report is. On yellow, orange, or red air quality days you probably find me indoors. The same goes for when mold or another asthma trigger's count is through the roof. Just like hikers without asthma, I let someone I trust know where I'm headed and when I expect to be back (perhaps irrelevant in the modern world where we can our phone's location with loved ones). I, of course, carry my rescue medications and treat or pre-treat as appropriate.

I also enjoy more remote adventures with friends. However, I am perhaps overly cautious about how I am feeling before we go out to more distant destinations. Much to my dismay I recently canceled on some friends for a bicycling and camping adventure. I know my body and I wasn't feeling particularly bad. However, I also wasn't feeling up to biking many miles and sleeping outside in rural Illinois. I missed out on beautiful fall colors but I'm not sure any of us would have enjoyed it with me sneezing and coughing. When I'm feeling up to camping I tend to do my cooking over a camp stove instead of a wood fire. It is a much cleaner burn than a campfire. Maybe you do better than I with campfires.

Are the woods "off limits"? Sometimes, other times I trek right in with gusto. It can be quite wonderful to behold the natural world around you and disconnect from your normal daily life. Do I expect to be able to hike the Appalachian trail anytime soon? Probably not, and that's OK. I will be talking with my asthma doc at my next appointment about the possibility of going on a week long organized bicycle camping trip next summer. My primary care doctor has already given me the green light. Like most things in life with these lungs, it's about finding balance and being in tune with what my body is saying.

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