Do you Allow Pets?

This weekend, I stayed at The Inn on Long Lake in Nanaimo and it was a wonderful experience! From start to finish. I was EXTREMELY pleased. I called in 48 hrs before our arrival date and mentioned that I had severe allergies to pets (cat and dog) and wanted to know whether they allowed pets. The women I spoke with was extremely understanding and explained that yes, they do accept pets. She said that they “try” to keep the third floor free of pets, though they cannot guarantee 100% that there has never been a pet in those rooms. She said that the decision would be up to me, dependent on how severe my allergy was.

I expressed that my allergies were VERY severe and she offered to put me on hold whilst she spoke to her manager. Only a few minutes later she returned. She explained that they did have a few rooms that were a little higher priced as they had a king size bed and were more spacious. For the extra $20.00 I decided it would be the best decision for me. Now, some might wonder… how did you decide? Well, considering I have had a tough time with my asthma the last few months and that Inns, Hotels etc. usually trigger allergies, due to the cleaning products they use and detergent for sheets and towels, the decision was a , “no-brainer” for me. No point adding another “possible” trigger into the mix!

I opened the patio door for the night (usual practice for me) and slept great.I had a great stay despite being a little itchy from the sheets and towels, which I have gotten used to.

I highly recommend their beautiful in, with views on long lake. What an amazing sunrise this morning.  :)

 

Allergies and Language Barriers

Have you encountered a situation when you are unable to communicate your allergies and their severity due to an obvious language barrier? Perhaps you have traveled to a different country where they spoke primarily french, portugese, spanish or another language you may not be very familiar with. How have you dealt with these situations. Have you trusted them when they said that your food would be safe? Have you trusted the hotel staff who seemed convinced no animal had ever been in the room? Do you try and learn some phrases before your trip if you know that your language may not be spoken where you are going?

One trick my parents and I came up with a few years ago was to have someone translate a few key phrases and words for us and write them all on separate pieces of paper for us. When we went to the Dominican Republic years ago, we at least 3 different notes in spanish that we could give to the chef for assistance. One would say: “hello, my name is Erika and I have SEVERE, life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, …” another said “can you please help me find something safe to eat?” and the notes went on. I found it extremely helpful to have everything written down, because I didn’t have to worry about not saying something correctly, or mispronouncing it. I felt safe, knowing the chef had very specific messages. The chef on this particular trip was awesome. He did not speak a word of English, though he would nod or shake his head when pointing at items in the buffet, to express whether I could eat it or not.

I find it truly amazing how despite talking, gestures and written communication can be a very successful means of expressing thoughts.

Are there times you have found it impossible to communicate your allergies? Maybe when eating out, or renting a room at a hotel, when you are asking them about cleaning products they use and their pet regulations… How have you felt in those situations? What have you done? Do your friends or family try and assist?

My thought on this topic is to try and have a few phrases in the languages of the place you know you will be visiting. If you live in British Columbia or any other province or territory.. and will be visiting Quebec, don’t worry, there is English and French, though it does not hurt to go prepared, with a few notes and phrases!

Who knows about your Epipen?

If you have severe, life-threatening allergies and carry an Epipen are your friends aware that you have one on you? Or perhaps even two. Do they know what the signs are that you are having a reaction? Personally, I am pretty quick to bring up the topic, with new friends and acquaintances as it is so important. What if something happened and you couldn’t administer it to yourself? If ever I am hesitant about telling someone, likely a person I don’t know well, I always remind myself… “there’s no shame  in having allergies, and the Epipen is what will save your life”. We all have our moments.

At work, my colleagues know about the Epipen, and I demo’d how to use the Epipen to the colleagues I share an office with. How do you discuss your allergies with your employer? Or do you? I know I was a little unsure at first how to approach them. In the end, it came down to a simple talk. In your experience, what has the response been? Are they accommodating?

 

Back to School and Asthma

With classes approaching, asthmatics (children and young adults alike) will be faced with unique challenges and awareness of the triggers will be of great importance. How have you prepared for your child’ return to school in the past? If you are a University student, what does back to classes mean to you, that is if you were off for the summer…

I know I had a tough time, especially during pollen season. However, there is usually a work around, and hopefully some of your professors are understanding and willing to accommodate. In my own experience, discussing your allergies and asthma with the professor at the start of the course and/or making an appointment to talk with them during their office hours is always a GREAT idea!

Here’s an interesting article about back to school with asthma. http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3598314

Asthma attacks and Flare-ups

Have you or someone you know ever had to be on prednisone? After such a flare-up were you able to fully identify what the triggers were that lead to the asthma attack? Most of the time it is hard to know EXACTLY what the trigger/triggers were. Sometimes it is a combination of things and our body is not able to handle it.

The last 10 days have been hard as I had a flare up with my allergies and asthma which has resulted in my being on prednisone. As annoying as the side effects can be, I am glad to be feeling better. This is the first serious flare-up for me in quite some time and it makes me realize that though I have lots of support, a great allergist and family doctor, there are still some actions I can take, which would make me even better prepared for any similar attacks in the future.

Do you have an adequate “Asthma Team” in place? Here in Victoria, BC we have an Asthma Clinic which has a pulmonary specialist on call. Do you have a pulmonary specialist? What is your action plan, or the action plan for your son/daughter or loved one? Having a proper plan in place is very important. Do you have a peak flow meter and know how to use it? Knowing what your lung capacity is when you are feeling at your very best and when you are feeling tight provides a great way to monitor your lungs. The American Association of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a great article on peak flow meters and how important they are; “A peak flow meter for asthma is like a thermometer for a fever. It helps monitor what’s going on inside your body.” AAAAI

I highly recommend having a glance through National Asthma Patient Alliance – Asthma Society of Canada‘s website. Do you know many others who struggle with asthma? Are you wondering how others deal with their asthma and how they might have overcome some of the challenges we often face on a day to day basis? Have a read through some real-life stories on the Asthma Society of Canada’s website! It’s always nice to know you are not the only one :)

 

 

XXI World Congress of Asthma is around the corner!

I am very excited to be attending thanks to Allergen NCE. There is a little more information on their website now about the topics that will be discussed and the FINAL Program is also up!

Looking through the numerous sessions, titles and keynotes & speakers has been extremely inspiring, as my primary concerns and interest lie in why asthma is on the rise, and, how to manage asthma in the work place or school. It is one thing to have a home that is clear of mold and dust and is controlled, however I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with alternate environments which have multiple triggers that are beyond my control.

Over the next few days, I will be looking through the program and trying to figure out which sessions I will be attending! It’s like looking at a menu! Hopefully I will be seeing some of you there!

BTW, I can’t seem to find abstracts yet either…

:)

Willing to share your story?

Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction? The Youth Anaphylaxis Panel in conjunction with Anaphylaxis Canada have a special section on their website dedicated to opening up the floor for sharing. Perhaps someone will learn from reading your story, or become more cautious about the dangers of cross-contamination. There are many stories on their “Reaction Registry” http://www.whyriskit.ca/pages/en/resources/reaction-registry/browse-reaction-registry.php

Even if you don’t feel like sharing yours, it’s a great place to skim through a few stories of youth and young adults who have been through similar events as you. Their site also has great resources for youth, including podcasts and videos! From dating to dining out and travelling with food allergies.

It’s all about community and awareness. :)