New Job, No Problem!

I ascend the stairs sandwiched between two escalators. It’s the most efficient way to get around campus—we often discussed in Physical Activity: Promotion and Adherence how few people take the main stairs on campus, despite it being faster. According to my Fitbit, today I ascended 8 flights of stairs going to and from my office on the third floor of the university.

Yep, an office not in my house. Weird. I share the space with a coworker, who has very much of the knowledge about how to do this job stored in her brain (She’s also very fun and has told me it’s 100% okay to listen to podcasts while I am working, which mostly involves—thus far—counting paper). New jobs can always bring some uncertainty with asthma, though, and this one was no different.

Asthma in the workplace

This is my first office job, and I correctly anticipated that there would be fewer asthma-related concerns and trigger exposures than other jobs I’ve previously held. Daycare worker—chemicals, fragrances, germs, exercise at work, weather—probably more. Ditto camps, plus sometimes fires/smoke, plus walking forever with a day of my life in a backpack at day camp. Tennis tournament assistant—weather/heat/humidity, air quality, being outside forever.

So, really, while I’m not sure how often my office is vacuumed, my only real concern going in was perfume-y coworkers, and that has so far been a needless contemplation. If that were to arise, there are scent-free guidelines (though not a policy) on campus, and the Accessibility Services staff know me from my time as a student (though they do work with students more-so than staff as far as I know). Really, my only pseudo-asthma problem so far has been that I keep booking it up those stairs and am a tad breathless upon getting to the top. Which is fine so long as I have a moment to catch my breath before I have to be conversational.

Disclosure: A matter of conversation.

I’ve written before on the issue of disclosure when you have asthma. My new boss knows much of my background from our previous encounters (and his conversations with my mom), but we haven’t had a specific conversation about asthma. My coworker and I haven’t specifically discussed it yet, either—we haven’t needed to. I’m more than open to the conversation coming up, but I’m also happy to talk about far more interesting things—like podcasts, what 4-year-olds are into, and my failures at using the university’s e-mail system and accidentally sending an e-mail to a random faculty member because I have no clue what Outlook is doing (yes, that happened today…).

Weighing the options

When choosing if a job is right for you, it also has to be right for your asthma—and in a lot of cases, that comes down to the work environment. While asthma does not have to be the first thing you consider when choosing a job, it should certainly be part of the deliberations—with some forethought, you can have a plan in place for what to do if certain triggers are an issue in your workplace, and know where to go to resolve them. Knowing your rights to a healthy and safe workplace is also an important tool when it comes to self-advocacy!

What are your tips for balancing a new job (or old!) with asthma?

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