Muddy Obstacle Runs and Inhalers

Good morning!

I had a great question sent to me by a reader and wanted to put it out to you all to see if you could help her.

Liz wants to run a muddy obstacle race. She is wondering how to carry her inhaler, which she will need with her at all times. This type of race provides different challenges than just a road race. She will need for the inhaler to be protected from mud and water, as well as for it to stay out of her way on the obstacles.

I’ve never done a Tough Mudder but I have much respect for those who have. I’ve only done 5Ks and a Stair Climb that I loved/hated, so I don’t have personal experience with this one.

After some online research, I found some helpful discussions on runnersworld.com. Some ideas were to wear running shorts or skirts with pockets in the waist. It seems like it might poke at you but it could work. Also, some people use armbands to carry inhalers instead of phones. There are also runner’s belts that people use to carry gear like this one:

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Apparently, runners do use these on the Tough Mudder. I would still put the inhaler in a snack-sized plastic bag to protect it.

I wonder if a YOLO phone case would work? Paddle boarders use them for their phones and they are waterproof. Maybe you could wear it crossbody-style to keep it out of your way? I bought one from a YOLO store at the beach, but there are probably other brands you could find if you are not near a YOLO store.

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If anyone has any ideas for Liz, please leave a comment for her and anyone else planning to run a muddy obstacle race. Best of luck, Liz! Thanks for giving me a great topic to post on today and for inspiring all athletes who are beating asthma.

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Athletes Beating Asthma Has a New Look

Athletes Beating Asthma‘s site has upgraded its logo and cover photo, so don’t be surprised if things look a little different. A little color and pizazz never hurts, don’t you think? But don’t worry, we’re still the same little site as before. Thanks for reading!

First Game

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Haven’t blogged in a while here. My other blog and responsibilities have taken over my time but I promise I haven’t quit this project.

Today is the first game. High school football. Freshman team. Thursday Night Lights.

The weather is gloriously, thankfully, mild and humidity is down. There is no Code Orange air quality alert.

The pollen is not terrible today, according to the “Allergy Tracker” on weather.com.

So why am I worried?

Because I am a mom of an athlete with asthma.

The good news, and there is a lot of good news, is that he has done better this summer and this August than ever before. Possible reasons for this improvement are:

  1. He is in better shape than ever. They have lifted weights and worked on conditioning since the spring.
  2. There is less dust than last year. The high school field and facilities are a million times nicer than the middle school. They actually have grass and there is less crap blowing around.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, he’s getting better/growing out of it?

Wishful thinking, perhaps. It’s most likely the first two, but a mom can hope, right? He has only had one day of real breathing trouble — their first afternoon August practice — and even that day, he controlled it with his inhaler.

He knows now, at the age of 14, to sit down and use his inhaler when he feels trouble coming on, and not wait until it becomes a crisis. His coaches know. He has had some allergy trouble this week but nothing severe.

All of this to say, that even though I want to let it go and try to let it go and let Jesus take the wheel, the first game is always nerve wracking. I pray for all of these kids, on both sides, to be safe and well and have a good game.

I love football and I love it for my son and all the good it does him. I am grateful that his meds keep him well enough that he can play. And breathe.

As for me, I will breathe easier after the game. Go Cougars!

Spring’s Sting

Oh, Spring. How beautiful you look through the window.

If you suffer from asthma and allergies, you understand what I’m saying. Everyone’s talking about how happy they are that Spring is here, but you are sniffling, sneezing, eyes watering, coughing, trying to breathe, and staying inside.

No matter how much medicine we take, it gets us at some point. Some springs are worse than others, and fall is even worse for us, but so far, spring has sprung and stung. That little twitch in your throat, the little cough starts, the nose starts itching…and you know it’s spring. Oddly enough, the thick yellow pollen that covers my porch and car and everything else isn’t as bad a problem as the aftermath. Right now, the yellow is less and less but my symptoms are kicking up. It makes no sense.

I’m less inclined to go for my walks when it’s like this. I’m less inclined to work in my yard. I don’t want to walk my dog. I don’t want to sit on my porch. And yet I need some vitamin D, right?! I do get jealous of those who don’t have to worry about it. I wish I could just enjoy my spring.

As a parent of an asthma and allergy sufferer, as well as a sufferer myself, I can at the very least understand what my son is going through. He’s already started weight lifting and conditioning for football season and next week, will start spring practice. This year it’s high school ball. Hard to believe it’s already here. He was sick last week with cold/sinus issues, which is never “just a cold” when you have asthma. He thought he could handle weight training and I let him go. When I went to pick him up, they were coming in from the field where they had apparently been running. I panicked. I knew he had trouble because it was a hot day for April and he was already having some breathing issues. I thought they were just going to lift weights so I didn’t worry. I didn’t see him come in from the field. I didn’t see him at all. Kids kept coming out and going to their cars but he was nowhere to be seen.

I was in a bad position. My Mama Bear mode had kicked in. I needed to go and find him, be sure he was ok. What if he needed to go to Urgent Care? I also knew that if he was ok, it would embarrass him to the nth degree because these athletes are young men now and mamas don’t just show up in the weight room. It’s a man’s world up in there. This is no longer the Rec Dept league where I can watch him every minute.

I gave myself 5 more minutes before going in. I assured myself that the coaches would look after him. I assured myself that he would know what to do and would’ve stopped if he needed to. I tried to have faith in him that at 14, he would know when to sit down. I fought my anxiety and fear and anger over my lack of control over the situation.

And then I saw him coming out. He was ok. Not great, but ok. He got in the car and said he made it through the running but had to sit for a while afterwards, which was why he was late coming out. He promised he would sit if he needed to. He didn’t know he would be running that day, either. But he did it. And then was sick the next day and the next and the next. Such is the life of an athlete with asthma in the spring.

I don’t know why it has to be so hard for him. It’s not fair, but we all have our personal battles and this happens to be his. And mine. He’s a fighter, though, and I’m proud of him. He loves sports, most of all football, and wants and needs to be physically active as much as possible. I will support him as long as he wants to play and will do what I can do to take care of him, which seems to be less and less now as he grows up. Luckily, most days are good. But when it’s bad, it’s really bad.

This episode did motivate me to set up a meeting with the coach to be sure we have a plan for him like we did in middle school. Most of his teachers and coaches in the past have been wonderful and cared about his well-being. I’ve also set up an appointment with our asthma doctor. I’ve been fortunate to have so many other adults in his life who help me help him. I have no reason to think high school will be any different. Communication and teamwork really is the key.

So, Spring: I for one have mixed feelings about your arrival. Your flowers are lovely. Your trees, gorgeous. Your sunshine, healing. I’m glad winter’s gone. We will get through this. We always do. At least the scenery is nice and the temperatures pleasant. Soon, we’ll be able to experience it without a window in the way.

Forget Calgon: Epsom Salt…Take Me Away!

Now THAT was a dated reference. If you didn’t already figure out my age, you now have a clue, huh?! The classic 80s commercial hilariously captures a woman in the most hectic part of her day, pleading for the famous soap to “take her away,” which it does in the next scene as she luxuriously bathes (behind a major camera filter) in a deep tub of bubbles. Women have been quoting that commercial for years, so I guess it did resonate back in the 80s and obviously still does, although I have no idea if they still make Calgon or not. Anyone know?

I would like to make the Calgon case for another, less expensive, and all-natural bath product, whose benefits harken back to the 1800s: epsom salt. I’ll be honest; we are not big bath takers at my house. We are shower people…who has time for baths anymore? But when my son was having asthma issues and our doctor suggested epsom salt baths, we were ready to try anything.

When I purchased the epsom salts, which you can get at any grocery store or drug store/pharmacy, I couldn’t believe the bag only cost a few bucks! As much as we spend on allergy and asthma meds, this was a welcomed surprise. We got the bag home and started reading the directions and became confused right away. It was telling us to use it for constipation! I continued to study the bag and realized that some people apparently drink it for that issue, and was quite relieved that a bath in it would NOT produce a laxative effect. That would have been…unfortunate.

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Fortunately, it couldn’t be simpler. All you do is pour in a cup or so in a running bath and then soak in it for 10 minutes or how ever long you can. The magic ingredient is magnesium. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory that helps basically everything. Muscle soreness, pain of most any kind, and most important for us, airway inflammation. You can feel it working and it is a fantastic sensation. I feel it in my feet the most, so I guess the ol’ dogs are barking more than I realized at the end of the day. It relaxes you and when you get out, you will breathe better and any muscle soreness will be relieved. If you have pain in your neck or shoulder or somewhere the bath can’t reach, you can also soak a washcloth in the solution and apply it several times to the sore area. My son loves one of these baths after rough football practices and games; it helps his breathing and his bruised and battered body. Football players are crazy, no?! But I love ’em.

If you haven’t given it a try, see what you think. You can take magnesium in pill form if don’t have time for a bath, but if you do have time, there’s nothing more relaxing than soaking in epsom salt. You can get peppermint scented, lavender scented, or unscented. I either get unscented (strong scents can trigger our asthma) and add a bit of Aveeno lavender bubble bath (the lavender helps with sleep, too), or the peppermint, which is lightly scented and refreshing. And just to be clear: it’s not just for athletes battling and beating asthma — it works great for everyone!

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I usually use the store brand, but who knew? Calgon Epsom Salt! Take Me Away…

Click here for more epsom salt info from the Epsom Salt Council!

Breathing Easier With Supplements

The news story that came out this week about the faux vitamins at Wal Mart, Target, and other stores was a real bummer. While I believe that supplements do have health benefits, I feel that this situation only adds fuel to the skeptics’ fire…not to mention how much I loved saving money by buying store brands, since we spend a small fortune on other medications. Oh well, I guess that strategy’s shot.

If you missed it- http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/03/news/herbal-supplements-walmart-target/

Insurance does not cover these over-the-counter meds but we use quite a bit of them and they add up quickly. Generic prescriptions have helped the bank account tremendously; I was thrilled when a generic Singulair became available, but now I wonder what is in there. I believe that the medicine is in there, because it helps us, but what else is there? I’ve known for many years that brand-name drugs are “cleaner” than their generic forms. In the past, I’ve had prescription medications that I could not take in generic because of side effects, but insurance will only cover the generic. Sigh. It’s a real dilemma. Sometimes it feels like you can’t win. Who am I kidding, with insurance companies, you definitely can’t.

I look for coupons and use them whenever possible. My wonderful pharmacists at Target often find coupons for me, which I think is so kind. Always do an internet search before you shop for the brand names. I have found them for Advair, Culturelle, Nasonex, and Flonase. I’m sure there are more out there — which ones have you found?

We take or have taken probiotics, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin C. We have been told by our doctor when to take which ones and why they will help us, except for vitamin C, which I added because of overwhelmingly positive anecdotal evidence. Ask your doctor if these supplements might be right for your athlete. 

Probiotics

So much research shows that wellness rests within the gut. Our good bacteria has been destroyed by processed diets and food additives, so we need to replace that good bacteria to help our immune systems. This medicine helps with digestion, as well. I can’t say enough good things about these wonder pills. We use Culturelle because they have no gluten or dairy. Anything that will help keep my athlete from getting sick is good stuff to me. A simple cold for an asthma sufferer is not simple at all. It can keep him out of school, out of practices and games, and turn into bronchitis quickly. Check with your doctor to see if these might be helpful to your athlete.

More info — http://www.livingwithasthma.net/asthma-and-probiotics-whats-the-real-story/

Magnesium

My athlete has taken this in pill form, as well as in Epsom salt baths. This remedy helps with…well, just about everything. Magnesium helps inflammation, whether it be sore muscles or inflamed airways. After an intense football practice or game, nothing feels better for my athlete than taking an Epsom salt bath. It is super cheap, you can find it at any drugstore, and I pour in a little Aveeno bubble bath to make it smell nice but not too strong…we’re trying to help the asthma, not trigger it! The pill form works well, too, if you don’t have time for a bath. Check with your doctor to see if this would help your athlete.

More info — http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/asthma

Vitamin D

Apparently, many of us are now deficient in vitamin D because we don’t go outside enough. That’s pretty sad, isn’t it? This supplement is especially helpful during the winter, when the sun isn’t out as much and we stay in to avoid the cold. Among many other things, vitamin D also helps with inflammation. Check with your doctor to see if this supplement would help your athlete.

More info — http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

Vitamin C

This last one I have adopted as part of our winter routine. My husband is on airplanes a lot and has found Airborne/EmergenC to be somewhat effective in helping him stay well. It may not keep you from catching a cold, but it can help lessen the severity and the duration. I recently found Airborne gummies, which taste delicious and you can take up to 3 times a day. The past couple of weeks, my husband and I (and most people I know!) have both been sick with throat infections and cold and sinus problems. I started taking the gummies when I got sick with a second round and so far, I have not had to go back to the doctor or had to get back on antibiotics. My son caught it last week, started the gummies immediately, twice a day, and over the weekend, got better and never had to go to the doctor. Can I prove it was the gummies? No. But it’s can’t hurt, as long as we follow the dosage requirements, so I’ll keep doing it.

More info — http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm

What supplements does your athlete take? What have you tried that hasn’t worked? I quit taking the Magnesium pills daily because I couldn’t tell a difference, but I swear by those Epsom salt baths. You will feel so good afterwards. I hope this information helps you with your athlete; as noted ad nauseum above, please check with your doctor before starting any new supplements. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. I am, however, a mom and a writer with mad internet research skills, and I’m not afraid to use them to help my athlete beat asthma.

Play hard, work hard, and stay well!

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