When They Don't Know What They Don't Know

I've had asthma intermittently my whole adult life. I'm now a 71-year-old fluffy grandma. I've had times when it was manageable with minimal meds and other times during the year when it was difficult to maintain. This week we traveled from Phoenix to SoCal and Nevada to visit relatives and celebrate our anniversary. The weather has created super blooms most everywhere, which has made asthma management more challenging.

Changing climates trigger my asthma

When we got to SoCal, it was windy and cold with high humidity, along with being one of the hot spots for allergens and asthma triggers. I was uncomfortable but managed okay. We traveled to Northern Nevada and on the trip, I noticed I was struggling with the altitude (Conway Summit is at 9,000 ft. elevation). I've dealt with altitude sickness before and hoped once we reached Carson City it would settle down. Unfortunately, Carson City is a higher elevation than Phoenix and also in full super bloom, along with being cold, humid, and windy - all asthma triggers for me.

Explaining my asthma symptoms to family

We went to visit my first great-grandchild and my oldest granddaughter and grandson-in-law. They have four cats and two German shepherds. Needless to say this triggered even more symptoms, with pet dander, pet hair, and dust mites. I immediately felt worse but stayed to see the new baby for a bit. After leaving I knew I couldn't go back into their house, even though we'd planned to spend time and hang out together over the weekend. After explaining the situation, we decided to have dinner together the following night, but after dinner, we had to say goodbye since we couldn't go back to their house and couldn't be outside for any length of time. There were hurt feelings because I know they expected us to stay longer and spend more time, but I needed to rest and try and recover.

Managing hurt feelings because of my asthma

The next day we got out for a few hours and visited a nearby antique store and had lunch just to get out of the hotel. They saw my posts on social media about the weekend and my grandson-in-law commented about how I managed to get out but couldn't be with them. He also thought I was being disingenuous in my posts that it seemed like I was trying to say we had spent all of the three days with them. To try to relate all the symptoms, conditions and triggers I was dealing with would only make matters worse because he has no understanding of what asthma is like, and on the surface I looked fine except for having to work hard just to breathe. Even though I tried to explain why I couldn't be in their house and did manage a brief trip from the hotel, there were hurt feelings all around, which became criticism and judgement of me and my asthma.

Explaining asthma symptoms isn't always easy

I'm not sure what will happen, I just know without understanding what asthmatics deal with, especially when the triggers are primarily weather-related and mostly environmental, I can't explain any further than I've tried. It's such a hard place to be right now. Heading home tomorrow with lots of uncertainty.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.