Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Asthmatic Whirlwind

Last Wednesday, 9:00 pm

Bryan and I went on a run. It was late so we figured we'd just run a mile and run it fairly fast (faster than we'd go if we were running farther) and call it good for the night.

I set my ipod so we'd be on track for at least an 8 minute mile and off we went.

We ran down the street, turned up toward the temple, and were doing well.


I always get short of breath very early in a cardio workout. I've always just assumed that I needed to get in better shape, that I have a hard time with altitude change when I'm going up the Y or Timp, and on and on.

So, I've always just dealt with it, pushed ahead, and that was that.

Back to Wednesday, 9:03 pm

We were just about at the halfway point when I ran past a particular house. It smelled like dryer sheets... like their dryer exhaust was blowing out of the house and just staying there-- not dissipating or anything.

About one house later my lungs tightened, I was wheezing and gasping for air, couldn't breath deep, and I had to stop running. Basically I had an asthma attack.

Good times.

I coughed and coughed for the rest of the night and the next day felt like I'd been hit in the back by a baseball bat. Ouch.


I emailed my doctor and she said it sounded like exercise-induced asthma, and I should make an appointment with a pulmonologist.

I spent a good hour that day calling back and forth from my doctor's office to the pulmonologist's office getting referrals sent and trying to get an appointment.

I couldn't make an appointment til Monday when they had processed the referral.

In my mind: I spent a lot of time thinking, "really? why couldn't this have happened months ago so that I could get it taken care of before the half marathon this week?!" A tad frustrating.

I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't have an inhaler by the race and good thing it's downhill and all of that.


The pulmonologist's office called me from a really strange number that I didn't recognize (not their office number) so I missed their call. I tried to call them back on both numbers all day long and nobody answered.


The pulmonologist's office calls me and asks if I'd like the next available appointment which just happened to be the NEXT DAY. Um, yes. (When does that EVER happen?)


I went to the hospital for my appointment at 8:30 am. We were mid appointment when the dr said she'd like me to do some exercise-provoked spirometry tests, and "let's just call over there and see if they could fit you in right now". The respiratory therapist said "yes if she comes right now." (When does THAT happen?!)

So I ran over to the other side of the hospital, got my running shoes on, and spent the next hour or so doing breathing tests, running on an super inclined treadmill, doing more breathing tests, etc.

After it was done I went back over to the doctor.

We looked at my tests (she thanked me for being a math teacher so she could explain what all the numbers and graphs meant-- she got her bachelors in math. Kindred spirits I guess). It turns out that my lungs are really healthy; healthy enough that the "asthmatic" effects of cardio exercise don't drop me down into any dangerous levels, so she said she didn't want to label me as having asthma. (I'm fine with that.)

What I do have, however, is something that she named something like "highly irritable lungs". Basically, my lungs are way more sensitive than normal to things like chemicals in the air, allergens, and other irritants. Makes sense.

She gave me a prescription for an inhaler (which I will pick up this afternoon and have for the race!) and said I should be able to manage all of this with the rescue inhaler and antihistamine allergy pills. Done. :)

I'm really grateful that, in a whirlwind of really fortunate events, I got this taken care of before the race!

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