Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I pissed my lungs off

When I was a freshman in college, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. Last night, I remembered again how bad my asthma is.

There had been a couple times as a kid when I would have a lingering wheeze or crud in my lungs from a cold and was treated with an inhaler. I had always noticed that when I worked out, my lungs would be on fire, and I would cough up mucus. I didn't necessarily think anything was wrong--just that I was out of shape. So, I was often discouraged from exercise.

When I got to college, I began to run, and found my symptoms were awful. I decided to take advantage of the free student health center. After asking me a few questions, and measuring my lung capacity, the doctor told me that I had exercise-induced asthma. I had never heard of that before, nor had I ever thought of calling what I had asthma.

I always thought asthma is where your lungs lock up, you turn blue, and have to go the hospital. I knew several people that had serious asthma that could be triggered for simple reasons. So, I was prescribed an inhaler. There are definitely days--especially in the hot and humid Missouri summers, where my chest feels tight because my lungs don't like the air. However, most times I really only need my inhaler for exercise.

So back in college, with my inhaler in hand, I'd go jogging and had a good timespan where I was jogging three or four times a week. This lasted until I rolled my ankle one night. It wasn't good to run on again before the humid summer came. Even with my inhaler, my lungs were useless for running in the humidity.

I had wanted to start jogging again for a long time. It is something that I really enjoy doing. However, my lungs never had cooperated. Last night, I got psyched up and went for it--I regretted it. I've never had much of a problem with sore muscles, my weakness has always been my lungs.

So, last night, I did some stretches, walked around the block a bit and then began the jog. The air was crisp--somewhere in the low 40s. I had been jogging for maybe a few minutes when my lungs started fighting back. They burned at first. Then, I had to stop to cough up mucus. I walked for a minute or so more, and then went back to jogging. I got a bit further before there was more coughing and more mucus.

I walked home, coughing up crud the whole way. My lungs burned and I coughed up stuff all night long and into today. Sure I had my inhaler--but that only helps to open my lungs more so I can cough the crud up easier. It doesn't stop my lungs from making the crud in the first place.

I've been thinking that I should perhaps find a good English-speaking doctor and start looking into other treatments. One thing is for sure, coughing up crud or not, I need to get back to running.

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