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home : columns : dear harriette May 27, 2020

2/19/2020 7:48:00 AM
Asthmatic reader questions going on hiking trip

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a weakened immune system due to asthma. I have never bowed out of activities because of my health, but now I wonder if I should.

I went on a hike with friends this summer and had an asthma attack. I hadn't told them about my condition, as I keep my health to myself, so they were freaked out. I had my inhaler and ended up being OK, but not without slowing down the whole trip. I do not want people throwing me the side eye because of my health. I have always been able to manage without drawing extra attention to myself. I'm thinking about this because friends are organizing a trip to the mountains for a much bigger hike, and I wonder whether I should go, and, if so, what precautions I should take. -- Question of Health

DEAR QUESTION OF HEALTH: Your first stop should be to your doctor. Contact your physician and your pulmonologist (if you have one) to discuss the status of your health and the upcoming trip. Talk about how you can protect yourself, what safeguards should be in place and who should know about your condition.

Many people with asthma, as well as other health conditions, participate in athletic activities without cause for alarm. To prepare, you should reveal all details of your previous trip and what happened. Talk about what to do in case of emergency. With your physician's blessing, go on the trip. But do inform at least one participant of your health profile. Also find out about how medical emergencies are handled on the hike route that you have selected.

DEAR HARRIETTE: A young woman interned with me many years ago, and we get together from time to time. I am happy to stay in touch with her, but sometimes it gets expensive. We typically go out for drinks or to eat. Since she is much younger than me, I feel like I should pay for our outings. But my income has changed, and I don't really have much disposable cash anymore. I am embarrassed to point this out, but I think I must if I intend to continue meeting up with her. How do I tell her that I need her to split the bill? -- Managing Expectations

DEAR MANAGING EXPECTATIONS: You are not beholden to this young woman financially. Though you feel responsible for her, this is not a requirement. You have a few choices to consider. For starters, why not spend time in places that do not cost money? Go for a walk to chat during temperate weather. Visit a free museum or art show in your town. Meet for coffee, a far more affordable alternative than drinks or dinner.

You can also tell this young woman that you are happy to meet with her, but you need to split the bill. It is important for the next generation to learn about the realities of aging. This includes financial changes. This can become a teaching moment -- even if it does feel a bit like eating humble pie.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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