Life / Travel

Charleston: Highs & Lows

Wow, I’m behind! We left Charleston 5 weeks ago and I’m just sitting down to write about it…but hopefully you’ll understand why after reading all the way through. This part of our trip came with some unexpected complications that have been dragging on for quite a while. Trust me, it’s the one big ‘Low,’ so we’ll get there. But let’s start with the good stuff. It was our first time to ever visit Charleston, and we’d heard so many great things that we were really looking forward to experiencing it for ourselves!

Charleston Highs

The Food – Honestly, I have NO idea how so many amazing restaurants stay in business in such close proximity to each other. From burgers to tacos to BBQ to fancy food and cocktails, Charleston has it all. Our favorite casual places were Edmund’s Oast for burgers and Lewis BBQ for beef brisket (they have a brisket cheese dip appetizer that Nathan was obsessed with). The best nice dinner we had was probably High Cotton, though its sister restaurant Slightly North of Broad was also delicious (yes, it’s really called S.N.O.B., ha!). If you’re into cocktails that are also works of art, we’d also totally recommend The Gin Joint. We also visited a great little authentic French crepe restaurant called Breizh Pan’ Crepes that had gluten free crepes! So good.

The amazing part is that we had more food recommendations from folks who’d visited than we could possibly consume in one trip! Honestly it was hard to narrow it down most of the time. One thing we’re realizing is that we also have to take the recommendations we get from folks and filter them through gluten free options as well since I definitely have to eat that way to avoid getting sick. It’s annoying, especially when it comes to southern food, but we were pleasantly surprised by how many restaurants in Charleston were completely accommodating and knowledgeable.

The Weather – We’d been told that October/November is a great time to visit Charleston, not only because it’s less crowded, but also because it’s less hot/humid. Since it’s the only time I’ve ever been there, I don’t have a lot to compare it to myself, but I totally believe it. It was the perfect temperature to enjoy days at the beach and eating/being outside!

It was actually the first time I’d spent time at a beach in fall-like weather and it turns out I’m a BIG fan. Why go to the beach in sweltering, draining heat when you can…not?
Bathing suit? Sun? Water? Totally.
Sweaty? Fanning yourself all day? Pounding water (or, ya know…whatever) so you’re not dehydrated? I’m good, thanks.
I don’t mind it for a short time, but I’m pretty positive I wouldn’t enjoy living in it.
Maybe I’m still recovering from Key Largo.

The Beach – So yea, I definitely enjoyed the short drive North across the bridge to the beach. I spent most of my beach time at the southern-most end of Sullivan’s Island, and it was beautiful and quiet. It was also dog friendly, so Juneau got to join! The beach is on the end of the island and overlooks the canal heading to downtown Charleston, so you can watch all the boats and ships as they come and go. Fort Moultrie is also there, which turned out to be a convenient spot for a potty or picnic break that’s a very short drive from the beach.

We ventured to Folly Beach one day because we kept hearing about it, but I’m gunna be real honest with you – we stayed for probably half an hour and have no desire to go back. The little ‘downtown’ strip is basically a couple of blocks of sports bars and tourist shops that all sell the same T-shirts and shot glasses. Think Panama City Beach but waaaaayyy smaller. I can see how if you’re in college/love bar food/with a bunch of friends that might be fun, but it just wasn’t our scene. So if you’re looking to visit or stay at a beach near Charleston, I’d absolutely recommended heading North instead of South if you can swing it. I’m sure there are some other great places on the South side, we just didn’t get a chance to explore them this trip for a number of reasons…which leads me to…

Charleston Low

The Sickness – Ok, so I’m giving Charleston this one big ‘Low’ fully realizing that it’s not actually about Charleston itself. It’s just where we happened to be at the time, though it could have happened anywhere. But it massively impacted our ability to experience Charleston and, honestly, since it’s the only time we’ve ever been there, it’ll probably be a little hard not to associate all that’s unfolded from it with the location. Here’s the story:

We rented an AirBnB house in the main part of Charleston that was just a few miles away from all the restaurants, a few blocks from the Citadel and Hamilton Park. It was quiet little street, and our first impression of the house was that it was cute, older home with a great back deck and updated kitchen/bathrooms that would be great for our 4-week stay. We could tell the house wasn’t super well taken care of, but it was an AirBnB, so whatever.

About 5 days into our stay I started coughing. I know what you’re thinking. But I didn’t have any other symptoms.
A couple days later, Nathan started coughing. Crap.
And then Juneau started making weird breathing sounds and acting more lethargic than normal. Wait, but dogs can’t get ‘rona.

Fast forward 2 more weeks – our coughs kept getting more and more persistent. I was so fatigued that I didn’t get out of bed for several days straight, and it was feeling hard for me to breathe, especially at night. But never any fever, aches, chills, sore throat, congestion, or loss of taste/smell. We both got Covid tested just to be sure, and both were negative.

We weren’t sure what was causing it, but we felt pretty confident that there had to be an air quality issue in the house – especially since even Juneau was affected by it. We know that there had been a sewer gas leak in the house for the first two weeks because we could smell it, and then a plumber finally figured out it was coming from a broken toilet flange. It was also a house built in the 1940s with a crawlspace in a humid environment, so mold isn’t out of the question either.
But all that to say – 3 weeks in, we decided we had to get out of that house. We made the call at Noon on a Sunday, and 4.5 hours later we were in the car heading to Jacksonville to stay with Nathan’s parents. (SO thankful we had family close by for this who were willing to let us crash on such short notice!)

You’d think the story would be over there, but the saga continues.

We were still coughing a ton several days after leaving the house, so we went to an Urgent Care doctor in Jacksonville who gave both of us some prednisone and prescription cough meds. This did help us both initially. After another week or so, Nathan was pretty much all the way better. I was still struggling to stop coughing though.

By week 6 of coughing, we were in Atlanta and I had the bright idea to go for a run outside when it was quite cold. To be fair, I was tired of not being able to workout for so long during all the coughing, gyms don’t really feel like a great option right now, and I was kind of getting used to the coughing.
Bad idea.

That cold run, followed by a cold walk the following day set me WAY back, not only to incessant coughing, but now to feeling like my chest was tight and it was hard to breathe. Urgent Care Snellville to the rescue – another negative Covid test, a steroid shot, inhaler, and more large-dose steroid pills later…and it was clear this thing wasn’t over. (And we had to cancel multiple plans with friends in Atlanta over it, which I’m still bummed about.)

Then we get to Memphis by early December, where my family lives. My Uncle, who’s a radiologist here, makes a call to an internal medicine doctor friend who graciously agrees to see me the next morning. Another negative Covid test (that’s 3 if you’re counting), some chest chest X-rays, and lots of questions later, he says to me:

“I hate to tell you this, but you have asthma.”

I’m sorry, what?

I’m still not really sure how it all works, but apparently adult-onset asthma is a thing…and I guess whatever air quality thing happened in Charleston triggered it for me. It’s been a week now and the doctor put me on some maintenance drug, with an inhaler for when I need it. It takes time for those preventative types of meds to work, but I’ll go back the week of Christmas for a follow up and to learn more about what exactly the next steps are. It seems like asthma’s the kind of thing where you just learn how to control it and what your triggers are, but many people learn to have totally active, healthy lives with it. I also don’t know yet if it’s just a season of dealing with it, or forever. Only time will tell.

So…wasn’t expecting that! But that’s why it’s taken me so long to sit down and write this. It felt like the story kept unfolding AND honestly I’ve just been exhausted and trying to focus on getting better, not pushing myself to produce anything.

If you actually made it to the end of this, and you happen to have someone in your life who’s navigated living with asthma (especially as an adult), I’d love to hear about any suggestions or cautions you might have! I’m praying that it’s not a forever thing, but hopeful that even if it is, there are at least medicines and ways to make it better.

We’re looking forward to taking the next few weeks in Memphis to rest and be with family before heading WEST in January!! Also, we’re continuing to be thankful that so far no one in either of our immediate families has gotten Covid. Definitely feeling the need to be extra careful these days, especially because I can’t imagine asthma and Covid mixing well. Pray for us!


  • Lisa Bodker
    December 21, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Praying for you!!! I got late adult asthma – had 2 out of 3 of the trifecta they call it – (allergies, ezcema and asthma) as kid but not asthma until a couple years ago. I called on ENT docs and allergists for work for 5 years who diagnosed me after i quit calling on them and worked in another job calling on other docs. Went out for run in first cold atlanta evening few weeks back and it set me back for a couple weeks. Came home couldn’t breathe, had to use rescue. Much of it is exercise and cold weather induced but no joke! Makes you winded and tired! You can and will get through this. Never thought in million years I’d develop asthma!

    • Lauren
      February 20, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Oh, wow, that sounds so frustrating. (Sorry I’m just now seeing this message!) I hope you’ve been able to figure out ways to manage it without too much daily impact. I still feel like I’m trying to figure out the whole workout outside piece, especially in these winter months.


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