At some point as a kid, you became determined to ride a bike all on your own. You had to learn how to steer, how to brake, how to keep yourself going, and how to get up when you fell down. That's a great metaphor for how we deal with asthma, too.
Steer clear of obstacles and know when to use the brakes. Staying on top of the symptoms is key; when you can’t do that, adjust accordingly. The Willamette Valley offers a veritable plethora of environmental triggers for allergies and asthma: grass pollens, and tree pollens, smoke from grass burning, molds, dust, take your pick. For most of us, we’ve learned what kind of medication works, and we adjust our activity when pollen counts are peaking. Keeping the triggers at bay allows you to fully enjoy what this corner of the planet has to offer. If asthma or allergies are already compromised and then a trigger hits you, that’s a bad day, and it’s going to be a long journey getting back to normal.
Keep your momentum, and get back up when you fall. An asthma plan should be seen as a process that moves with you every day. It’s a routine with a "plan b,” just in case. That’s all. Once it’s working for you, it honors your possibilities and potential. It keeps you out of asthma jail long enough to enjoy the freedom of a normal day, even in the valley. You’re going after control of the factors as much as possible. However, you can’t control every factor all the time, and it’s likely that at some point, asthma will flare up despite everything you tried. You’ll get back up, just like riding a bike.
It’s important to have some kind of exercise that keeps you motivated and active. It will help keep excess weight off and improve lung function. I’m learning to keep junk food out of the house and drive past the drive-thru windows. When I’m not wheezing or tight, I do workouts that emphasize deep breathing; it strengthens the intercostals and all the muscles that assist the lungs. I’ve noticed that continued, frequent workouts that don’t trigger my asthma have actually scaffolded up so I can do more, for longer periods of time. High on my list of real-life heroes: Beth is able to race bikes in the mud because she’s got this figured out. Jessica is biking, running and swimming in preparation for a triathlon (and chasing after three very active boys, so she's getting extra workouts). As soon as I can swim greater distances, I’ll jump into a triathlon, too. That’s what plans can do for people with asthma.
Asthma plans can’t “cure” us, they just help us unleash our possibilities.