Asthmatics! It's OK to Take a Day Off

Health Professional

Dear Fellow Asthmatics:

I just wanted to take a moment to write to my fellow asthmatics.   I understand that I've lectured in the past that you should be able to live a normal life with asthma, but if you are sick it's OK to admit you are sick.   It's OK, if not essential, that you take a day off, or even a week off.

If you're like me you're a busy, busy person.   You are a dad (or mom) with toddlers at home to take care of.  You have to drive your older kids to school, and pick them up.   You like your job and hate to call in sick.   You had plans to take your son's soccer team to the out-of-town game.   You are busy, busy, busy.

But you're sick.   You have the crud.    I don't care how good you take care of yourself -- and that includes you  Jake Gallant  -- you're going to get the crud.   The crud comes in the form of a cold, either caused by a common virus or a bacteria.   The crud is also believed to be the No. 1 most common asthma trigger.

If you're asthma acts up and gets worse, you won't be of any use to anyone.   You could end up in the hospital.   You could end up dead, for crying out loud.   Surely you're asthma may seem like a minor distraction, and it may even seem not to exist.   But it's there, and you must take it seriously.   You must not forget you have it.

Trust me when I say I've seen fellow asthmatics try to tough it out, and it's not always pretty.   A few years ago I had a weight trainer who had asthma, and she showed up to work huffing and  puffing.   She insisted she was too busy to take a day off.

Two days later I was taking care of her in the hospital as she was admitted with an exacerbation of asthma and pneumonia.   She got the crud, ignored it because she was too busy, and the crud gripped her harder.   She learned a lesson the hard way that it's not good to ignore the crud, especially if you have asthma.

Trust me when I say I'm no exception here.  Like "normal people" I usually tough out the crud, but last week I had to give in and call my doctor.  My streak of 14 years not needing to make an unscheduled doctor visit, and not needing systemic steroids,  came to an end.  I even had to give in and call in sick to work.

Yet that one extra visit to the doctor worked.  Those two days off work did the trick.  Sitting in a chair all day watching TV and taking breathing treatments (and eating, because the steroids make me hungry) may not have been normal, but sometimes that's what we asthmatics have to do.

If you have the crud, take the day off, or take the week off.   You don't have to be a hero every day.   Call your boss and tell him you have the crud.   Call your doctor and be seen.  Skip the soccer game.  Skip your workouts this week.   It's OK.   It's OK because if you take care of yourself now, you will be back to a normal life in no time.


Rick Frea

Fellow Asthmatic