Menacing rake towering over tiny figure surrounded by mounds of fallen leaves, pain from spring chores that trigger asthma

Raking Leaves: That Spring Job I Do But Probably Shouldn't

I considered hiring it out this year. There is a kid I know who would do it for $20. But after being cooped up inside all winter, it feels nice to work outdoors. And so I ended up raking the leaves on my own.

I started doing it in the fall. It’s easier to rake leaves in the fall. That is when leaf pick up is where I live. If I do it in the fall I can just rake the leaves to the road and the department of public works will come by and pick them up.

Raking this spring

But COVID-19 hit where I live in October. I work as a respiratory therapist. I work on the front lines, per se. We RTs are to this war on COVID-19 what the marines are in a real war. It hit so hard that I had no energy to finish my leaves before it snowed. So the job was left for springtime.

It’s a fun job. I enjoy doing it. Dad used to have us rake leaves all in one day. We’d rake and rake and rake until the job was done. When we were done we’d all be so exhausted and our bodies would ache. We'd be famished and eager to eat.

I can't rake in a day anymore

I cannot do that. When I do the leaves, it’s a prolonged process. I usually give myself a half hour and then I quit. It’s not that I don’t want to get it done like dad did. But I have asthma and severe allergies to mold, and there is lots of mold where there are leaves. This is especially true of leaves that have been out all winter.

Like any job, sometimes you get on a roll. You get into the zone and you forget you have asthma - if you have asthma. You work and work until you are too pooped out to go on. Or, you work until your chest is tight and you are forced to quit.

Last week this is what I did. And the next day I worked at my RT job and my chest was tight for most of the day. I was using my albuterol rescue inhaler every four hours or so. This was an increase from my usual albuterol usage. Though, after a few days, my asthma symptoms subsided.

What triggered my asthma?

The trigger was mold, I am sure. That is the neat thing about my asthma: my symptoms are mild and easily reversed with time or treatment. This is because I have pretty good control of it. If it were truly controlled, raking leaves would not cause asthma symptoms. So, there is a little frustration there.

This is one of the reasons my doctor and I have talked about Xolair. This is a medicine that blocks the effects of Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This is an antibody responsible for the allergic response.1

This is the main culprit for my allergic asthma. So, the thought is that this medicine may help me obtain even better asthma control. Unfortunately, my insurance won’t cover it - and it’s an expensive medicine. So, I am stuck with my current level of asthma control. And I’m fine with it. It’s not ideal, but it does allow me to live my life. And it does allow me to rake leaves, even though I may experience mild symptoms.

Still, it is a great workout. And it feels so good to have this big job accomplished. It feels so good to do it yourself. I could have hired out this job - and that is always an option for the future - but then I’d miss out on the great feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t get it done in one day as dad did; it took me about a month. But it’s done and that’s all that matters.


Does raking trigger your asthma?

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