Saturday, December 01, 2007

I can't breathe!

Nine years ago, I trained pretty seriously through the summer for the first time ever. My goal was to run the Chicago Marathon. I'd found a good group of running chicks; I was training with a coached group; I was feeling strong. All was good. Until the week of my birthday when I got sick. It started as a cold but then went into my lungs and wouldn't leave. Finally my doctor ordered a chest x-ray, but my lungs were clear. So he sent me to a pulmonologist, who ran me through a battery of tests and diagnosed me with adult-onset asthma. To this day, I blame the crummy summer air in Austin.

It took a while to get the medications balanced out, and my running suffered as a result. I didn't make it to Chicago, but I did pull things together enough to run the then Motorola Marathon here in Austin.

Most of the time, my asthma barely bothers me. Ten months of the year, I don't even have to take any asthma medication. But one or two times a year, something happens and my lungs tighten up completely.

Last week I had a bit of a cold - it lasted all of two days. But now I can't breathe because of asthma. I'm back on my medications and having to use my albuterol inhaler, which I hate because it makes me so jittery. If things don't improve soon, I'll have to call my doctor, who will put me on the dreaded prednisone for 10 days. Ninety-eight percent of the people who take prednisone feel better for it; all their aches and pains go away, their skin clears up. B loves being on prednisone because it makes all the aches in his neck from years of diving platform go away.

I, on the other hand, and one of the lucky two percent who have the opposite reaction. The stuff makes every joint in my body throb and ache, down to the knuckles in my toes. I don't sleep for the first five days of the treatment because of the pain in my joints and because the medicine winds me up so much, and I buzz around the house like a hummingbird on caffeine. I also tend to lose a lot of weight because of my buzzing activity.

The last time I was on prednisone, my doctor took pity on me and prescribed Ambien for me so that I could sleep. It turns out that I'm one of those people who does things she doesn't remember while on Ambien. I was in New York City with friends when I took it for the first time, and apparently I made a phone call to another friend back in Austin and had a long conversation with one of my traveling companions. I don't remember doing either thing.

Aside from feeling like I'm breathing through a straw and coughing all night, I'm frustrating by the hit my running has taken as a result of this. I ran Wednesday morning and felt great. But by that afternoon I was feeling the cold come on. I had hoped to run Friday afternoon, but Thursday night I started wheezing. I wanted to run this morning, but last night I was wheezing even worse. I knew better than to even try to run. I'd have ended up on the side of the road, doubled over, sucking on my inhaler.

I know that there's nothing more for me to do right now. I'm taking my medications and running the humidifier at night. Beyond that, I have to wait it out for a few days - and cross my fingers that I don't have to take prednisone.

1 comment:

Suburban Correspondent said...

I can't believe there isn't another steroid you can take. But I'm sure you've researched this.

I feel for you. Not being able to fill your lungs is a lousy feeling. I dealt with it once when I was pregnant and my husband was doing some home improvement stuff (surprise!) - for some reason the dust and debris irritated my lungs. Really scary. My son carries an inhaler in case he encounters cats or mold or (get this) melted cheese smell in the air. He's allergic to dairy, and if there's any in the air, he needs the albuterol. When he can't breathe, I can't breathe. But we're lucky it's not chronic.