I am finally writing again. I’ve had a very busy spring and am headed into an even busier summer. I have been busy with work volunteering with Anaphylaxis Canada’s new “Allergy Pals” peer mentoring program and was recently chosen to be Canoe/Kayak Head Coach for Vancouver Island Zone for BC Summer Games which will be held in Nanaimo this year. It’s made me go from “busy” to “insanely busy” as this volunteer position with BC Summer Games has me organizing/running training camps and getting the team prepared all the while keeping parents informed.
When I applied to be a coach for the Summer Games, I didn’t worry about my food/environmental allergies, asthma or chronic pain one bit. I was just really excited about the possibility of being a part of the BC Games as I attended Quebec Winter Games as an athlete and loved it!
Now that I am officially the Zone coach and the games are only 32 days away I feel like I have so many mixed emotions around it. I am excited, happy for the new adventure, confident about my abilities, though I am also extremely anxious… I am anxious about how I will manage my food/environmental allergies, asthma and chronic pain. If you have allergies, asthma and/or chronic pain, you know that a few days away is not always that simple. It depends where you are going. Here’s what I am headed into… See if you can imagine what this will look like.
Food: Uncertain of how it will be served. They mention people with food allergies will receive their own plate at each meal…
Transportation: By bus with the local athletes from various sports
Accommodations: Sleeping on the floor in a school for 3 nights
We will be leaving home on a Thursday morning and returning on a Sunday. Ultimately, this means 4 days of food that I need to somehow prepare because with all my life-threatening food allergies and other dietary restrictions, there is no way I am going to risk having a reaction or getting sick while I am in charge of 15-17 athletes! Now, while riding on games transportation we can only bring one suitcase and a sleeping bag… As the bus will be full! That’s when I consider myself VERY lucky that some of the athlete’s parents will be attending the games and be driving there. My plan will be to find a spot for a cooler and a place to keep my food… Still working on that. One thing is for certain! I will have at least 2 EpiPens on me at all times.
Food allergies aside, my next hurdle becomes my environmental allergies. I have had serious asthma attacks on buses before which lead me to the emergency room due to pet dander, smoke and/or perfume on people. Imagine a full bus. I will have to be extremely careful and prepare for the 2 hr bus ride by taking extra anti-histamines and preparing my lungs ahead of the departure day. For me, this will mean upping my medication as prescribed by my doctor, to ensure my lungs are in the best condition possible. I will also need to make sure I have a new rescue inhaler and it is not expired as that would be the worst thing that could happen. Now, environmental allergies and the bus is one thing, however my even bigger concern is sleeping on a floor in the school.
My most serious environmental allergies which trigger asthma attacks fairly frequently nowadays are dust mites and cat/dog dander. I think it is fair to assume there will be significantly more dust on the floor in a school than there is in my extremely safe allergy-friendly home which we vacuum with a high quality vacuum that has Hepa filters built into it. I will definitely be carrying a lot of antihistamines for this trip! Thinking through all of these scenarios ahead of time becomes the first of my planning steps. The last thing I would want is to be having a reaction and not have enough antihistamines or not have the right ones.
Now, last but not least is the chronic pain. I know it is not allergies or asthma, however it is a fairly big part of my life. If I have a hard time sleeping on my comfy bed at home… I’m a little concerned about how my pain will be affected with the sleeping accommodations at the Games. That being said, I have already found an inflatable mattress I can borrow, to ensure I can get some sleep while I am there. In my “before the games” plan which I have written down that I need to have all my pain medications from the pharmacy as well as all my allergy asthma medications.
All in all, the Games are going to be a wonderful experience! I am so excited that I get to be a part of it! I will have to work on that flash mob dance though… Being busy seems to be my thing. The most important thing I have learned about being busy is to make sure I have a plan, because with allergies and asthma and chronic pain, I always need to be prepared and on my game!