Thursday, October 22, 2009

To Hike or Not to Hike?

Most recently, hiking is what has made me most nervous as far as travel goes. In the past year I have gone hiking twice. Although I love the idea of hiking, in actuality it really scares me! Not only do I have the general fears that anyone might have: "What if I fall and brake my leg? What if I accidentally fall over or slide down the cliff when I climb up the rocks at the end? What if..." My main fear though is: "What if I get an allergic reaction on top of the mountain, with no cell phone reception and no way of getting down except by climbing?"

The thought of being so far and inaccessible can be both exhilarating and frightening for people. For allergic reactors though, this can be very scary! I remember when I was growing up, my parents were always the ones making the decision of where I could go, by their comfort level. Now that I am an adult, it means that I have to decide my own comfort level. I don't have my parents telling me what I should and shouldn't do based on my allergies. Instead I have to make the decision of whether I feel comfortable or not. Sometimes this can be difficult, but I definitely feel like my parents prepared me well, and gave me the tools to assess and make good decisions.

My biggest problem on both hikes was not an allergy issue, but a boot issue. I couldn't find my hiking boots anywhere! I had no idea where they were, and after hiking in my running shoes on the first hike, I knew I wanted my hiking boots for the next one! Of course they were still missing though, and here I went again, hiking in my sneakers! I was slipping and sliding everywhere! This made it much less enjoyable.

I made sure both times to pack: hand wipes, water, lunch, snacks, and a sweatshirt for the top of the mountain.

At the top of the mountain.

Cleaning off my hands before eating, and sharing some wipes with my
friends after their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Having a snack.

The problem with hiking with a big group of friends, is that there are bound to be at least half, if not all of them bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat. Never mind the granola mixes, etc. that all contain nuts. Everyone is very aware of my allergies, so I had no problems, but of course I wasn't completely at ease. I felt much better once I knew we were done eating and on the way back down!

This is what makes the entire hike worthwhile...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Asthma Frustration

It started today when I was outside with the kids at recess. I could see the pollen floating in the air, and felt my lungs tighten while my breathing became mildly constricted. "Ugh..." I thought as I waited impatiently for recess to end.

When I was first diagnosed with asthma, it was only sports induced. It happened my freshman year of high school. I was, and still am a runner. I started having difficulty catching my breath though at cross country practices. That is when I got my first inhaler. Unfortunately, my asthma has only progressed from there.

I am trying to get the flu shot in Italy. Everything takes much longer here! Having asthma scares me. In more recent years, I have had some scary experiences with my asthma, and the thought of getting sick is frightening. Asthma is such an out of control feeling. My albeterol inhaler helps, but I still have scary moments where I feel very uncomfortable and very afraid of the lack of control I have. I take the lowest dose of advair twice a day, Flonase, and Singulair. (I have lots of environmental allergies too.)

Two years ago I came home from grad school to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family for the long weekend. We had our Thanksgiving dinner at our house, and during it I kept feeling more and more restricted. My dad end up having to rush me to the ER when my albeterol inhaler did nothing for me! It really scared me! I had never had that happen before. I was really stressed out at the time and I hadn't spent time at home most of the fall, so I had't been in our house or around our dog, which didn't help! After that they put me on Prednizone for a week, I felt better.

I have a student in my class who has asthma and every time she is having trouble my heart goes out to her because I know that feeling. She has an inhaler, but we have had to call her mom before because she has left it at home. The other day she was playing outside too, and had trouble, took her inhaler, and still didn't feel better. I felt so bad for her! It is such a scary feeling!

There also seems to be a lot of dust where I live in Italy. I am in a brand new apartment, yet the dust accumulates so quickly! I have heard other teachers I work with say the same thing about their apartments! Everyone smokes cigarettes here too! I hate it! Smoking is so gross! It makes me sad to see all these 11 and 12 year old kids already starting to smoke cigarettes. It is such a cultural thing here, that no one seems to be bothered! It is unbelievable to me with all that we know about cigarettes, that it is still such a significant part of the culture here! Yuck!

Hopefully this week I will find the flu shot! Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Traveling to Italy

Although I thought I was all set and ready to go, I spent the last few minutes before we left for the airport throwing things in bags! It is very difficult trying to figure out what to pack when moving to another country for the year. The one thing though that I made sure that I had packed ahead of time was all of my medication, doctor's notes and records, and my Italian Medic Alert bracelet. Those were most important!

I was flying Luftansa and called about my allergies ahead of time. They will not fly nut free though, which I actually remembered when I called from past flight experience. I asked when I got to the terminal to be the first to board, so that I could wipe down my seat. I had to be a bit insistent, but I was in the first group of people boarding. Instead of flying nut free, they were actually handing out bags of nuts...helpful! It did certainly give me some anxiety. I ended up being very lucky though, because I was bumped up to business class, where I had more room then I knew what to do with! I always wipe down the seat when I first get on the plane, so I did that and then got comfortable. I brought my own travel pillow and blanket, so that I didn't have to worry about that either.

The plane flight was va bene (okay)! In business class, they serve all sorts of tasty looking foods and drinks. I didn't have anything though, of course! I barely like eating the food that I pack on the plane. I would never even consider eating anything provided by the airline! The flight went by pretty fast. It was a short flight anyway for me, compared to all my travels back and forth to Australia!

I had a layover in Munich, so I sat at a table in the airport and ate some of the food that I had packed. I felt more comfortable eating it on solid ground, than on an airplane flying over the ocean.

My last flight was on this teeny, tiny, ity, bity, thirty-seater! I am not a huge fan of small planes, so I didn't really enjoy it, but it was short, which made it okay. I asked before the flight if they were serving a snack, and they said that they weren't. I ended up falling asleep, but I did realize that they were passing out a snack, which luckily was not nuts! Phew...

All in all, my travel experience went well. I am used to airlines not being nice or flexible about my allergies, so it is something I am always prepared for. I will have to write about the numerous times I have had them say, "Maybe you shouldn't be flying if your allergies are that severe. You should find another way to get there." Clearly that is an easy solution to places where flying is the only option! I will explain more about this in another blog...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back from my hiatus- Life in Italy

I am sorry to all of you who follow my blog on a regular basis and have been disappointed by no new or recent updates! I still appreciate your support, and hope that you will continue to read, now that I am back to blogging!

I have been in Italy now for a month. I love it here and feel very lucky for this opportunity! I am teaching 25 fourth graders with Italian accents! They are very sweet and a lot of fun to teach (most of the time)! :)

I definitely have a lot to share about my allergy experiences since I have been here. I have not had any major problems, and have actually had a much easier time than I was anticipating! I will start to share these experiences in the next few blogs! I just wanted to let everyone know that I am back and will be updating on a weekly basis!

Thanks again,
Miss Allergic Reactor