Friday, June 17, 2011

My last, best, excuse

13. To explain the whole weired asthma thing I have to go back to where it all began.

12. I started smoking when I was 15. I never really had asthma prior tot this. Almost immediately after I started smoking, I got repeated bouts of bronchitis that one day, didn't go away. I was diagnosed with asthma. Over the next few years, as I idiotically continued to smoke, my asthma worsened. In my 30s, I became "chemically sensitive". I could no longer walk into used book stores because of the powdery mold, or walk down the soap isle at grocery stores. Anything would trigger an attack. When I had a small fire at home I wound up in the ED.

11. In 1995, I asked the physicians assistant at my school for a handicapped sticker because I was so breathless walking to my car. He refused, much to his credit, and told me i needed to move more, not less. I told him i couldn't exercise; i have asthma. He begged me, "you are going to develop emphysema. There is an enormous amount of damage already. It will damage your heart. Please stop."

10. A week later, after an asthma attack that nearly resulted in another 911 call, I finally did. I didn't use patches or pills or gum, just the reminder of that day, November 5th, 1995, when I found myself holding an albuterol inhaler in one hand and a pack Benson & Hedges lights in the other. Idiot.

9. The first thing I noticed after I quit was that my children stopped coughing at night. I had assumed that children just coughed at night.

8. Eventually, the worst of the cravings subsided, and asthma became manageable, but the damage lingered. In 2002 things were so bad my doctor prescribed advaire, which changed my life. I could sleep at night, exercise, almost never needed my inhaler. I was still sensitive, however, and after I took up running, I would occasionally stop running at the end of a workout and cough and gag for quite some time after. Baboo worried and fretted.

7. Now, from time to time, I would run out of advaire. I usually took my daily puffs in the dark, so I often did not see the little counter in the disk telling me how many doses were left. A day or so after it was empty, my chest would start to tighten, and I would notice that I couldn't breathe lying down, and I would look over at my little purple disk, and see the big red 0 in the window. Yikes. Then I'd order another one from walgreens. Such was life.

6. was sensitive. I accepted it. It was my own fault. My asthma was triggered by mold, mildew, dust, all kinds of pollen...the worst was grass and pine...and chemical fumes. Walking through clouds of smokers entering a "no smoking" building...I had to hold my breath. This past winter was very dry, and especially troublesome.

5. It was my favourite excuse, my last, best, excuse, for not training. I would point to any known trigger and say, "i can't work out today because...

  • The junipers are pollenating
  • It just rained.
  • It's really cold and dry out.
  • The grasses are pollenating.
  • I just walked by a guy whom was smoking.
  • The wind has been blowing, and the air is full of dust.


4. Then in March of this year, something odd happened. I ran out of advaire....and nothing happened. My chest did not tighten. I slept normally. I waited. Stuff bloomed and pollenated and...nothing. Thick smoke drifted in from Arizona, causing problems all over the city, air warnings, and still...Still nothing. I traveled to smoggy wheezing. I traveled to wet, green places, and breathed deeply I walked down isles full of scented detergents, drove past road crews spray oil on roads, Still nothing.

3. googled; I could find nothing about asthma spontaneously getting better. There were a lot of frightening hits about it suddenly getting worse, howeve. I asked a psychiatrist, at work. Hmm, she said. She had never heard of asthma just 'getting better'. Maybe, she said, there was some psychological's in the DSM as being a medial problem complicated by emotional factors.

2. So I'm cautious, so fat it's only been about three months. But if this continues, and I don't know that it will, I don't know how to explain it, except that maybe it was smoke damage and not really asthma. I smoked for 15 years, and it's been 15 years since I quit.

1. will keep running, and I guess I'll have to run more, because I may have lost my best, last, excuse.


  1. That is awesome! I was diagnosed with asthma last year and it sucks! I guess I should work on the mental part of it.

  2. Frm what I understand, the reason lung tissue is so prone to develop cancer from smoking is because it's one of our cell types that regenerates more often (like skin, blood, etc) - and again from what I've been told, the beautiful thing about that is eventually, yes, it does clean itself up over the years from smoking damage. So it sounds like enough years without smoking and you are finally back in a good place!

  3. So glad for you!! To have your asthma go away and be able to run cough free is fantastic. Here's to hoping you are done with inhalers forever!

    As I write this I am trying to get the nerve to go for my Friday run. It is a bit humid and that typically causes my breathing to be strained(yes I have asthma too, though never smoked, just horrible allergies). I always fear an attack. I have coughed so much lately I was prescribed some prednisone to help reduce the swelling in my throat. So yes, my asthma is my crutch, some of it is truely physical but I'll admit my mind is always afraid of the 'what if' even if the day is good. Hope I run soon!

  4. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 26 and pretended I didn't have it for two years; I would just get sick with bronchitis because I refused to accept the diagnosis that I had asthma. Finally I gave in and went to a specialist. He was a smart guy who liked his patients to be smart too. He had me read a lot and he did a ton of patient education. One of the things he told me is that asthma does have a six year cycle: 2 good years, 2 bad years, and 2 years that can go whichever way they want. They are not sure why the cycle exists and that just like asthma can spontaneously arrive in an adult, it can also depart. He also told me I would have been better off if I'd had asthma as a child because I would be outgrowing it. I told him I'd put in my application for childhood asthma, but it had been denied, so instead I got adult on-set asthma. We got got a giggle out of it. This has been a bad asthma year for me, but I've had two glorious mostly symptom-free years. The information from him that there is a cycle out there gives me hope that relief will return. Until then, every asthma drug known to man is my friend, and I keep running, biking, swimming, and coughing my lungs out.

  5. Excellent news! I too am an asthma sufferer since childhood. It used to be bad enough to predispose me to pneumonia, which I had numerous times (very scary experiences). Mine has also gone into remission (mostly). There is still a little coughing after dusty trail runs, but that's to be expected. I attribute my improvement to vitamin D (5000 units/day) which I started several years ago, and eating better (real food mostly, though I limit carbs). Asthma is an inflammatory disorder, so if you get your inflammation triggers under control, it gets better. I'm so glad you stopped smoking though (rah, rah!).



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