Public Transit – A challenge for someone with allergies and asthma


Many people commute to work, school and extra-curricular activities using public transit. And most of which use it on a daily basis as their primary transportation means. It helps us reduce our emissions, our carbon footprint and can have so many other benefits. The bus or metro is often a great time to catch up on some reading, relax and listen to music, or even look out the window and be inspired. Here in Victoria, commuting to work by bus means we are not having to pay extra for parking and can sit and relax on the ride to and from work. Now, there is a catch. Living with severe environmental allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities, public transit has not always been an option for me. Over four years ago, I started immunotherapy treatments for cats and dogs. Many may think the reason for this would be to enable me to have a pet or have less allergies when I was in someones house who had a dog or cat. Actually, the treatments has served as a means for me to be in public spaces, including public transit.

For some time, If someone who had cat dander on their clothing sat next to me it used to trigger my asthma, and I ended up in the ER on a few occasions. Nowadays, with regular antihistamines and continued immunotherapy, I can take the bus on a regular basis, but it means that there are several mornings when I get to work and my asthma has flared up. And mornings where I have to take antihistamines which make me extremely drowsy and make it very hard to concentrate at work. On the bus, all my worst triggers are present. There is dust, pet dander on people’s clothing, smoke from people who smoke right before getting onto the bus, people with cigarette butts on the bus with them and lots of perfume, cologne, the strong body lotions and creams. For someone like me, with lots of allergies, it is quite something. And it’s a gamble. There is no way of knowing what triggers will be on the bus each day.

Do you or anyone you know take public transit and struggle with environmental allergies, asthma and/or chemical sensitivities? If so, please share your experiences below.

How do you relieve stress?


Today marks the start of yet another busy week for me.

Fall always seems to be a really busy time of year for me and along with the busy time comes stress. Stress, as you all know can really impact our health. There are so many ways out there to relieve your stress, whether it be work related, health related, school related or other.

When I am really stressed and running low on sleep, I seem to be more sensitive to environmental triggers and definitely more susceptible to colds. I’ve been fighting a bad cold that flared up my asthma for the last two weeks. For me an easy win, when I am stressed is to get out for a walk, head out to the beach to take some pictures, have a hot bath or do 15 minutes of yoga.

What do you do when you are really stressed. Does your stress impact your health?

When injury, asthma and allergy collide! Part 1 of 2


You may be asking yourself how injuries, asthma and allergies relate…or perhaps you have already had a few experiences of your own, where these three factors have been at play…

I’ll start by saying that I’m a young adult who LOVES to be active and living with pain from an accident I was in 3 yrs ago has been challenging enough. Now if you’ve ever been injured, you know how tricky it can be both mentally and physically. It can be especially tricky mentally, when you are used to being active, and all of a sudden are either home with your ankle, leg etc. in a cast, or dealing with another injury, which limits and often entirely prevents you from doing almost all sports and activities, even walking.

Now, there’s good news for most of us… And that good news is that more commonly than not the injury is a sprain, break or other injury that will take a few months, or perhaps a year to heal and then we can start getting active again. Slowly at first of course. Alternatively, the injury is such that the pain you are dealing with is like a roller coaster, where some days are better than others. You are up and down, and often somewhere in between your high and low.

Soo… being lucky enough to have an activity that I CAN do, to stay active and strengthen means that nothing can get in my way from doing the activity. For me, it is swimming. Now, I swam back in high school, and always seemed to get sick and struggled with asthma, due to the chlorine in the pool. As  result, I was only on swim team for a season, and then I opted for another intramural.

Swimming on a regular basis, means that I need to be extra cautious about managing my asthma and allergies. Taking my controller medication morning and night for the asthma is a HUGE priority for me and I never miss a dose. Aside from ensuring my asthma is well controlled so the chlorine does not trigger me, I am getting lots of rest, to ensure my body is in top shape in case I get a cold. The last thing I need is to get really sick and not be able to swim, because my allergies and asthma have flared up! I also make sure my skin is well taken care of, so it doesn’t not break out into a rash or hives due to the chlorine.

It is thus extremely important to stay on top of your asthma and allergies, ESPECIALLY if swimming is your rehab therapy for an injury, because if you get triggered, well, your rehab therapy might be on the line.

There you have it.

Injuries + Allergies = The need to be extremely proactive.

Have you ever struggled with injury all the while trying to manage your asthma and allergies which were being directly affected?

What strategies did you come up with?


Hotel stays… Not always exciting for us folks with allergies and asthma


It’s all in the title. This coming weekend I am taking some kayak athletes to an out of town race. What this means is that we will be staying in a hotel for 2 nights… As there weren’t many options to choose from in this town, this place was our best bet. Coincidentally, they allow pets. Now if you have environmental allergies as severe as mine, it’s a little worrisome.

Yesterday I called the hotel and asked my “slew” of questions… I was lucky to have a receptionist who was not flustered by all my questions and was helpful. It went something like this… (not verbatim)

Me: Hi, I will be staying at your hotel this coming weekend and have a few questions for you as I have severe allergies, especially to pets.

Reception: Ok, sure, go ahead.

Me: Well, it says that you allow pets, is that correct? 

Reception: Yes

Me: As I am extremely allergic to pets, I am wondering whether you can guarantee that the room I stay in has not had a pet in it. 

Reception: Well, we generally don’t have pets above the 1st floor. And it looks like the room you reserved will be on the second floor. When you arrive, you can go to the room and if it affects you, we can move you to another room.

Me: Ok, thank you.

Me: All rooms are non-smoking, correct? 

Reception: Yes

Me: Are there windows or patios in the rooms? And if windows, can they be opened?

Reception: No patios, there are windows that can be opened.

Me: Thank you so much, umm, just one more question… Can you please make a I am extremely sensitive to cleaning products and such. Is it possible to have them use less scented products for cleaning our room prior to arrival and not spray any air fresheners or other products in the room, as I am extremely allergic.

Reception: I cannot confirm that now. I would recommend you call on thursday morning, prior to your arrival to confirm your allergies with the reception as it will be closer to the date. They should be able to accommodate.

Me: Ok, thank you very much. I appreciate all your help. It is tricky traveling with allergies. I am also wondering if there is a fridge in the room.

Reception: You are welcome, I can only imagine. Yes, there is a mini-fridge in all rooms. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No, you have answered all my questions. Thanks you again. Have a nice day.

Reception: You too.

Though the answers did make me feel better, I am still a little hesitant about the hotel and will be sure to take all my antihistamines and asthma inhalers with me. I will likely bring a few masks just in case there is no other option. Thursday morning, first thing, I’ll be calling them back.

Have you ever had a conversation like that with hotel reception? Have they been helpful or did they not really understand? My questions about the patio are the result of a bad experience two weekends ago, when all rooms in the hotel had patios. Though the hotel is non-smoking, there had definitely been people smoking on the patio in the first room we checked into as my asthma was triggered almost instantly upon walking into the room. After talking to the receptionist about the room, she moved us into another room (upgrade) and I was symptom free! Thinking back, had we stayed in that first room overnight, my asthma would have flared up and I would have been sick and miserable. I am so glad my boyfriend convinced me to go to the reception right away. Yes, even I sometimes try to settle because I feel like I may be “annoying” about my allergies. I am so lucky to have someone to help me keep my game on. When it comes to health, it’s not worth the risk! Step up and speak up. I’m good at this, but sometimes I slip. Luckily this time when I slipped I had someone to catch me. :)

Travel safe!!

A busy summer is winding down…


Yeepers! For the last few weeks I’ve been telling myself it’s time for a new post, however it’s been very hectic over the summer. This morning I was surprised to see that my last post was July 3rd! I guess it has been quite some time…

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer! Our summer in Victoria British Columbia has been quite a nice one! We had a whole lot of sun which was wonderful. As a kayak coach, I was lucky enough to spend a good part of the summer on the water in a coach boat. A real treat. What was your summer like? Any family vacations or camping trips? This summer I’ve been dealing with injuries and it’s meant that I wasn’t as active as I would have liked to be, however I’m hoping next summer can make up for this one, with hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and camping trips.

One of the major highlights of my summer was a visit from a family in Calgary who has a child with severe food allergies, which, I met through this very blog! They had read my blog early in may and had reached out to me asking if I had any tips on things to do in Vancouver or Victoria, restaurants that were allergy conscious and safe and places to stay. We corresponded for 2 months and the family decoded they were Victoria bound! I was extremely excited to meet one of my readers and supporters from Calgary!

Combining two busy schedules was tricky, however we managed to spend their last afternoon in town together out on the water! We took the kids out for some kayaking and canoeing. It was so inspirational for me to meet a reader who so strongly believed in what I write and who I aspire to be. To meet her family was wonderful. It was almost magical. We had only corresponded by email, yet it felt like I already knew them . They were my friends. It was an experience like no other. I look forward to the next time we will meet! Perhaps I’ll visit Calgary next. :)

Though this summer has been a busy one, it has been a great one. I have spent much more time focusing on me and trying to overcome injuries and other health challenges. My asthma symptoms have also been significantly better over the last 2 months which is extremely exciting! Throughout this busy time, the two things I never skipped were my immunotherapy treatments. Both sublingual and subcutaneous, as they have continued to make a HUGE difference in my allergies and asthma and I know that skipping them will make my allergies and asthma worse. Immunotherapy is one of my biggest health priorities! What is your biggest health priority?




Training Camps and Food Allergies


When I was younger, I competed regionally and provincially in sprint kayak. Now, I am coaching athletes, here on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia. I was recently invited to join the provincial team for their training camp, over on the mainland, which I attended this past weekend.

This camp was the first one I have attended as a coach. When I competed in kayak and cross-country skiing, I attended numerous training camps. Planning food for these camps became almost second nature for me, as I attended so many of them. Attending this camp, even though I was not an athlete, brought back memories of when I used to plan out meals, how to keep my food safe and away from others who ate peanut butter and other nuts as protein, at these camps. Being an athlete with life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and lentils, means you are constantly surrounded by those allergens.

Often times I would bring my own coolers and keep things out of the fridge. If we had a kitchen, I would bring a separate sponge, my own cutlery and have a separate drying towel, so I did not dry my cutlery with a towel that may have some peanut or other residue on it from an improperly washed plate or other. There are many things to think about when you are in a different environment, surrounded by others that live off of the foods that can cause anaphylaxis for you. My first camp, I was terrified. I quickly learned ways to stay safe and learned the best ways to communicate my food allergies to my fellow athletes. The coaches always new, however it was hard to get other teens to understand how serious it was for me…

I’ll be writing more on this topic soon. I figured it was time for a post and thought this topic may spark some conversation.

Have any of you been to training camps? What have you done to stay safe, or how have you helped your children stay safe if they went to training camps away from home? Whether it be a day, two days, or a week, there are many similarities in planning, communication to fellow athletes and coaches. Are there challenges you have faced when trying to communicate the severity of food allergies?

Cruise ships!

Cruise ships at port

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went out to the breakwater here in Victoria and watched the cruise ships come in. We watched two cruise ships dock at port, to allow passengers to visit the island for the evening. This is a fairly frequent site here in the summer months. It’s always fun to watch the massive cruise ships dock. It all seems slow motion! Watching these cruise ships reminded me of my experience yrs ago, aboard a cruise to Alaska, on the Zandaam with Holland America, and all I wanted to think about was when I might be able to go on another cruise!

Cruise Ship

Have you ever been on a cruise ship? Perhaps a family cruise to Alaska or warmer yet… the Caribbean? Nowadays there are many cruises, including themed ones, like the Disney Cruise! For families who have a severely food allergic child, a cruise may be a scary thought. An impossible event. To others it may seem manageable if the necessary precautions are taken.

I have been on a cruise. To this very day, it was the most memorable trip of my life! We planned safe snacks to take with us, spoke to the booking agent about the allergies prior to the trip, and had a meeting with the kitchen manager our first day on the ship. Before a single meal had been made. I had a wonderful experience! The manager sat down with me every night at dinner, for a few minutes to plan all my meals for the following day. He advised it best that I only eat at the main restaurant, so he could make me the meals, and our family decided to eat there for most of the meals. There was one lunch where my family wanted to try out a different restaurant on board. I walked to the main dinning room, where my lunch had been prepared for me, asked to speak to the manager, as I did at each meal, and he brought me a plate that I took with me to the other dinning room. Not once did I feel scared. I felt safe.

It is all about being safe. Making sure they can accommodate your allergies. That they understand how severe and life-threatening the allergies are. As I mentioned above, there are many different cruise lines out there nowadays. You need to take precautions. If you don’t feel like they understand, consider looking for another cruise line.