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© 2017 The Gladiator Within™

September 22, 2017

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Just Breathe! (easy for you to say) - an asthmatic's journey to health

November 17, 2016

I had slight asthma as a child but with an afternoon of rest, I was back outside playing. Throughout the next 40+ years, I had minor reactions to foods and airborn stuff that made me wheeze. It didn’t stop me and it was so infrequent that I never worried about it or took medicine.


Both of my children had asthma growing up. They had attacks that landed them in the hospital and we had a nebulizer at home. My daughter’s asthma stopped when she was around five, but my son's was severe. It was bad in the morning and in the middle of the night when his tiny lungs compressed during sleep.


During his attacks, I would cradle him my arms, reading a book in one hand and holding the nebulizer in the other while he inhaled Albuterol. When he was able to breathe enough to sleep, I would cry. I kissed his forehead and held him close. I prayed fervently for years, begging God to give me my son’s asthma. As he grew and got stronger, my son played soccer and basketball. In high school, he was ranked as one of the top point guards in Texas and earned scholarships around the country, just like his sister. (She played D1 basketball through college.) He still carries a rescue inhaler, but seeing him now, you would never know now how he suffered. He's never complained.


A month before I turned 40, I broke out in hives. I laughed, thinking it was a reaction to “ratcheting up the rhetoric” during the 2000 presidential election with hanging chads and polling-place misconduct. My doctor treated me with Allegra D and Fluticasone. My hives were deemed to be “Idiopathic Chronic Uticaria” (ICU) – no known cause – but the meds kept them at bay so I didn’t care.


I was managing until about 48. During an evening jog around the lake in Austin, Texas in October - a time when the weather transitions quickly from summer to fall - I had an attack. I hurried home. I sat alone in the kitchen gasping for breath. All I could think of was what my son used to go through. I cried. I didn’t go to the emergency room. I just forced myself to calm down. I closed my eyes. I laid down on the cold tile floor. I took slow breaths. I put a wet rag on my forehead. I cried some more. I found an old Primatene Mist inhaler and took some puffs. It took a few hours before I could catch my breath. It was scary but I thanked God for answering my prayer.


From that point on, my breathing was different, harder. At 49, I moved to Dallas and my asthma got worse. The doctor prescribed more meds. In addition to the Allegra D and Fluticasone, I was given a home nebulizer, put on Singulaire, Dulera, steroids, codeine cough medicine, and antibiotics. Then, I was prescribed a “rescue inhaler,” in case I needed it. I did. Often. Still do.


By this time, I had been lifting weights for years and still jogging but my breathing got worse. It would take two hours in the morning to get my breathing under control - one reason I avoid scheduling early morning meetings. During the middle of the night, coughing fits often land me in front of the bathroom sink spewing phlegm. Not fun. Not sexy, just ask my husband.


It took me until this year to admit that I have chronic asthma. I can’t breathe sometimes. You can see the retraction at the base of my throat. It’s rough - a "disease" according to the medical bible. Recently, I did the full blood panel and scratch testing for allergies. I am allergic to plenty of things, most of which I had already figured out on my own. I’m on immunotherapy (allergy shots) that promises relief. None yet; maybe soon. I still jog. I lift with a trainer and just finished my first bodybuilding figure competition.


Yes, I have asthma. It's a pain but I don't complain. In fact, between my ragged, wheezy breaths, I thank God for answering my prayer.


(Nebulizer treatment at the doc's after returning from my first bodybuilding figure competition, 2016)



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