Wednesday, July 02, 2008

This is the Air I Breathe...or not

So back in high school, I ran track. Specifically, I was a sprinter. The shorter the distance I had to run the better. Most often my coach entered me in the 200m. I preferred the 100m, but seldom got to run it. You should know my high school did not have a track. We often went to a nearby school with a track, but we did not have one across the parking lot the way most schools did. So instead, for practice we ran around the outside of the school. Sound funny? Yeah, maybe a little. But it was what it was - practice.

One particular day we were running around the school - we had run one lap. We'd run another one. We'd wait, catch our breath. We'd run again. I don't remember the exact strategy in this training. At any rate, I'm rounding the final corner of the building and it occurs to me that I'm really really winded. I reach the stopping point where my teammates are huffing and puffing and trying to catch their breath. I hunch over (no, you're not supposed to do that) and put my hands on my knees. This was fairly typical of me - to be winded after a race. I waited to feel the slow release of my lungs relaxing. But this time, it didn't happen. I kept heaving - forcing my lungs to push out air and take in new air. And it wasn't working.

I turned to my friend, Nicole, and gasped "Nic...I...can't...breathe..."

I'm not one to shy away from a complaint. And truth be told, I hated running. So I did my fair share of complaining in high school track. If I wasn't running 100m sprint, I probably wasn't happy. I probably whined about stuff. A lot. And poor Nicole was my best friend so she got to hear the majority of my whining.

Bless her heart that girl didn't tell me to suck it up. She was standing up straight, still a little breathless, but clearly recovering well by this point. She took one look at me and yelled for the coach.

What happened after that - well, I'm a little blurry about it - but I think my coach and another friend's dad carried me to a warm vehicle. Nicole and the team manager stood nearby as they emptied out the contents of a brown bag lunch and handed me the bag. After 5 minutes I began to feel better. And I got out of running anymore at practice that day.

It all sounds a lot more dramatic and serious than me saying to you, "Once in high school, I hyperventilated." See, not so impressive. But that's basically what happened.

That was my first clue that my lungs weren't quite as normal as they should be. If you ever have the thrill of jogging with me, you'll see first-hand how true this is. Or rather you would hear how true this is. I breathe very loudly when I run. And a few years ago my doctor said, "I think you have exercise-induced asthma." Which made a whole lot of sense to me. He gave me an inhaler.

Why do I tell you all this? Because Monday morning I sat down after my morning shower to help Reagan finish her breakfast and I thought, "Hmmm...my chest hurts...that's odd...must have slept wrong..." And throughout the day on Monday it continued to hurt - specifically when I took a deep breath. Monday night I had to sleep in the recliner because I couldn't breathe well lying down. Tuesday morning I felt some better, but still uncomfortable. Tuesday night I slept in bed and boy did I sleep deeply. And today I feel some better. I can tell I am improving. I don't have pain in my lungs unless I take a ridiculously big breath. So I seem to be on the mend. But wow has this reminded me that we so take for granted every single day that we live without pain. At least I do. And the simple gift of taking a full breath of air - that's an unbelievable luxury. Asthma sucks...or blows...or neither.

No comments: