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Monday, September 25, 2017

Hiking, high elevations, and asthma

We live at an elevation around 4,000 feet. So when we decided to go to Moab with all the other tourists and hike up to the world famous Delicate Arch, I wasn't too worried. It's about the same elevation as where I live now.

I have hiked Delicate Arch before - in fact just a year ago. It's 3 miles round trip, but VERY steep. So this time I brought my hiking sticks. We packed water, had good hiking shoes, and were ready to go!


Enter asthma. 

Yep.

Sometimes it can be just one trigger that causes an asthma attack, other times it can be a lot of triggers piling up until your lungs can't take it anymore.

For me, it was a few triggers piling up. 

It started in the hotel room - which must have been dusty, because I woke up in the middle of the night sneezing and coughing. Dust is one of my worst triggers. So I started out the day with 2 puffs of my albuterol inhaler.  

Strike 1.

Then we followed the long line of cars to Delicate Arch and when we arrived, I noticed the weather was unusually hot.  Heat is another of my asthma triggers. 

Strike 2.   

We grabbed our water bottles and walking sticks and off we went. We hiked for about 10 minutes when I realized I wasn't going to make it up the trail. Exercise is another asthma trigger for me.

Strike 3.

I was out.

I told my hiking group that I wasn't going to be able to finish the hike and I would wait for them back in the car. I was a little annoyed. We had planned this hike for quite a while and I thought I would be fine. 

So, I turned around and headed back to the car. There are usually a LOT of people on that trail, but I was alone and could use that time to think.

I was startled to notice a vulture flying overhead. Oh pu-leeze!! He has to be kidding me! I'm not that bad - I'm going to make it back to the car just fine. (I did have a good chuckle about it later when I related that event to my hiking party!)

As I slowly made my way back to the car, I decided to change my thinking. Instead of being frustrated that my asthma ruined a fun hiking trip. I was going to be GLAD that I listened to my body. Instead of pushing through it (and really getting into trouble with my lungs - and having no cell service to call for help), I would respect my body.

It TRIED to keep up. It really did. But a dusty hotel room, heat and exercise was just too much. But that's okay! It made it through a week of traveling. My lungs and I made it up a beautiful tram ride over a flower covered meadow - hello pollen! And survived an exhilarating ride back down the mountain on a tiny cart on a cement track. 

It made through a day of kayaking and paddle boarding on a beautiful lake. Even with a crazy wind storm that blew sand all over us, knocked over the beach chairs and tumbled our beach umbrella into the lake. My lungs made it!

It survived a long car ride, dusty hotel room, heat and exercise. And then it said "uncle!"  

Even though I couldn't finish the hike, my body and lungs had been AMAZING! What a busy week. 

So, if you have to cancel an event every now and then because of your asthma, think of all the good things your body and lungs do for you every day! 

Thank you body.

Thank you lungs.

  

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