Has it been a year already?

Yes, just around this time last year my lungs took a turn for the worse. I had just finished training and racing a half marathon when the symptoms first hit me. I can remember my first few weeks of marathon training, when I would wheeze so much that I listened to music to drown the noise out. At the time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Maybe I caught I lung virus or something. So I continued to train for my marathon the best that I could. Sometimes I would get so winded that I could barely climb short hills, usually getting over the top gasping for air. I would just walk slowly and some how control my breathing again.

During the warmer weather we like to walk my oldest son to daycare, which is just down the street. I can remember carrying him thinking I might not make it there, yeah, a half marathoner that can’t walk a quarter-mile. This went on for a couple of months.

I would suspect that I was in denial that there was something seriously wrong with me. I was hoping that it would just vanish as quickly as it appeared. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Also, I am not a big fan of going to the doctor. Main reason is, I am petrified of blood work and shots. To actually go to the doctor would mean being subject to this and I would prefer to suffer.

In July, I had one of my usual sinus attacks but this time it got in my lungs. I had never had a chest cold this bad in my life. Plus, having poor breathing to boot, it was just too much for me and I needed help. So, I went to urgent care and found out I had bronchitis, yikes. The doctor put me on cough medicines, antibiotics, and rescue inhaler. Personally, I think the cough medicine was a bad choice for an asthmatic but I was not diagnosed at the time. I will say though, the rescue inhaler (Pro Air) did wonders for my life. I was able to breathe again.

In August, my inhaler was starting to run out so I decided to just suck it up and see me primary doctor. He gave me a new rescue inhaler prescription and ordered me a PFT and the dreaded blood work. I actually was so afraid for my life that somehow I did get the blood work done this time around, although, I have yet to be able to duplicate my bravery that day.

After the brutal PFT test, yeah, doing that test while being off the rescue inhaler for six hours was something. It is a tough test on control meds and felling pretty good. Many times I thought for sure that I was going to pass out. I didn’t have to complete the whole testing because I was already symptomatic. They gave me a breathing treatment and I did the test over again and was grateful that my test showed that meds increase my lung function. Sadly, the test did show that I have moderate to severe asthma.

My primary doctor referred me to my now pulmonologist and we started me on control meds. I can’t tell you how much the controller meds changed my life. It was getting so debilitating that I could not do much, which included training for the marathon in the fall.

Yes, life started to improve. My lung function started to climb, from 54% un-medicated too in the 60% range medicated and climbing. I was able to get back to marathon training but did have difficulty with the high mileage days. Recovering from them took many days of rest.

October came around and I finished my first marathon, woohoo. Unfortunately, three days after the event I had my first really bad flare-up, the kind that lands me on prednisone. This was not my first time on prednisone but I guess I didn’t remember the side effects the last time. But this time, the side effects were quite prevalent. It did not take long to solidify that I hate this stuff. Thank goodness it helps or I would refuse it.

November was OK, but was smoked out by my neighbors who were leaf burning. Yeah, I had my first experience with air-trapping, thought I was going to kick the bucket from that episode. That landed me on the evil prednisone again just in time for Thanksgiving weekend. What a way to enjoy four days off from work.

As I look back at December, I think I did really well. At some points I was well controlled. Some of it could have been the cool dry air, my lungs were digging it.

January, walked my second half and full marathon in the same weekend. Imagine what happened next? If you said, three days later my lungs would try to kill me, you are right. That is actually what happened. My lungs were so exacerbated that I thought I was headed for respiratory failure. I have never had dyspnea that bad before and it was exhausting. That definitely landed me on prednisone and a very exhausting two months of dyspnea.

In February, I went to my normal pulmonologist visit and spirometer test. I have gotten up to 79% on lung function before the marathon but he wouldn’t tell my test results from this one. Heck, I almost told them that I could not take the test. I almost passed out on the first try. I have to rest for a few minutes, the other two went better. Thanks goodness it wasn’t the PFT because I would have told them I couldn’t do it.

As of this writing in April, I am still struggling with my asthma.

Well, that has been my bio for the first year of having asthma.

Saving the best for last, I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have such good blogging friends, especially my tight nit asthma community. I honestly do not know how I would have made it without you. As some of you might know already, I had a hard time excepting the fact that I have asthma, harder than it probably should have been. I am just glad that someone was there to make sure I was not alone in these trying times. Again, thanks Y’all and I owe you one.


3 responses to “Has it been a year already?

  1. Aww. *Hugs!* What do you mean you had a harder time than you should have accepting asthma? I don’t know how I’d react if I was diagnosed with a life altering illness later in life, or if my asthma suddenly took a turn for the worst. I’d for sure be a huge baby about it. I’m babyish about my asthma as is – when it’s really bothering me, which as of now isn’t all that often. I think you’ve been taking it well, all things considered. And we’re happy you found us too 🙂

  2. Thanks for writing this, James. I’d often wondered about your diagnosis and how your asthma was before I started following your blog (not sure if you wrote about it and I just missed it, or you didn’t blog it as much before).

    I really hope that your symptoms and lung function continues to improve with treatment and that you continue to get your asthma in even better control. It’s a long and drawn out battle, but you’ve accomplished so much already, I have no doubts that you’ll continue to improve — and keep rocking those long races! 🙂

    Hugs — and thanks for being a part of our community! 🙂

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