Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

Asthma Sucks

Monday, September 28, 2015

Asthma sucks. I spent my childhood watching my grandmother and mother suffer and die young from COPD. I cared for many asthmatic patients as an ICU Nurse.  I witnessed one my closest friends have issues and even attacks in front of me.  I could appreciate the sentiment, “Asthma sucks” - or so I thought.
Eighteen months ago spring allergy issues made my normal running routine challenging. After an allergy consultation ended in normal test results, I was sent off with some “as needed” medications that included a rescue inhaler and my breathing problems resolved quickly.

Six months ago, a cough landed me back to see the allergist.  Once again, tests were negative, but this time I was given steroids, antibiotics and more “as needed” drugs to get me healthy for the Blue Ridge Marathon. Within a week I was, once again, right as rain. Problem solved.

Tuesday July 21st:  I am up at o’dark thirty, to run Yasso 800’s on the treadmill before my CX works class.  Yassos are a type of speed drill I was using to gauge my goal pace for MCM.  Complete ten training rounds and you have a good chance to make your goal.  I was on round five and feeling encouraged that I could reach my target Boston Qualifying Pace.

A half mile into my warm up I felt off and sluggish. “I need more PlowOn and coffee” was my initial thought, but pushed through thinking once I warm up, the energy will come.  I began my first Yasso round, and started sputtering and coughing like I had inhaled a glass of water and nearly fell off the treadmill after about two minutes.  I collected myself, and tried again. Same result.  So I gave up and taught my class thinking I was having an off day and would try again tomorrow.
The coughing continued with little relief for a week, and at this point, I am taking ALL THE DRUGS and none seem to be helping.  I schedule my appointment with the allergist and when I see them a couple days later, I am a veritable hot mess.

“See this? This result is definitive. You have asthma”, said my doctor in a matter of fact way pointing at numbers on a test sheet.  The statement hit me like a 2x4 across the face.  The nurse in me gets it and understands. The athlete thinks all my healthy activities and still my family history bites me in the butt. The fact that Asthma NEVER goes away sunk in. I’m given steroids, antibiotics and various other drugs with the hopes I will be good to go in a week.
Cough, sputter, wheeze, and cough.  Sleepless nights and fatigue drag on for weeks.  No relief, no let up, so much that even my friends were grabbing me by the shoulders and saying, rest, heal, and go back to docs.  I cannot remember being so miserable, ever.  Forget about breathless exercising; I was breathless sitting.  I could barely do basic living necessities for my family and I can tell you, my family had way more than our share of take out.  It wasn’t until a repeat visit to my primary care physician and a change in medication that I finally started to find relief.

It’s been more than two months now since the start of my initial flare up. I don’t cough nearly as much, and more extensive tests this week show improvement, but not in the time frame I had hoped for. Fatigue is still there, and cannot physically push myself like I had been used to. Pulmonary consults and comprehensive asthma treatment plan and knowledge is helping me understand my asthma and how to manage it.
In less than a month from the time I am writing this, I will have completed my 10th Marathon as part of the 40th anniversary of the Marine Corps Marathon and gearing up for my second Rosaryville 50k.  I wish I could look into my crystal ball and know what happens, but this story is still playing out and I will take each day and moment as it comes. No matter what the result, I will toe the line with my inhaler and give my best effort on that day.  This is not the end of my journey. My path may have had a detour, but the best paths are the ones less traveled. 

No matter how badly Asthma sucks, it will not define me or limit my possibilities.

Love, Cindy
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