[UPDATE: Got a call from the doctor's office today (2/7/13) to let me know that my chest x-ray came back perfectly normal, so nothing to worry about there at least.]
A few weeks ago I mentioned Exercise-Induced Asthma in our results post, and today I wanted to give a follow up that’s all about that rather than squeezing it into a results post where it might be overlooked. Even though I read BJ’s post about Running With Asthma over three weeks ago, I didn’t actually get around to calling my doctor about it until last week (I’m a slacker when it comes to calling doctors).
The appointment was scheduled for yesterday at 2 PM. My doctor is in Amarillo, which is about an hour away from where I live, so I had a full hour worth of driving time alone to think about what we needed to talk about and what he might say and which questions he might ask that I would need to be able to answer and all of that. I got to the office, signed in and then sat down to wait my turn for about 2 minutes before they called me back. I stepped on the scale which showed me at 298 (4 lbs over my last weigh in, granted I had normal clothes and all my junk in my pockets) and as usual I had to prompt the nurse to slide that bottom weight all the way over because I weigh more than I look (can’t decide if that’s good or bad).
As I waited for another couple of minutes for the doctor to show up I wasn’t feeling nervous or anxious, but I was curious and maybe a little excited to talk to him and see what he had to say. My doctor is a fairly young Asian guy that likes to keep things short and sweet, gets right to the point and doesn’t sugar coat anything when it’s important.
He walks in with his little laptop and checks things over as he says, “Alright, let’s see here. Getting back into exercise (nods) and having trouble breathing. Ok, stop exercising.”
Did my doctor just tell me to stop exercising? “Do what?”
“If you can’t breath, stop exercising.” He’s good at keeping a straight face when he’s joking.
From there we talked about symptoms and what not, and he started checking things after verifying that I deal with allergies often, not a smoker, experience the symptoms 3-5 times a week, etc. It was a bit concerning when he was listening to me breathe that he verified again that I wasn’t a smoker and then sent me off to have a chest x-ray. I didn’t hear anything about said x-rays, so I don’t know what they found if anything. I’m sure he’ll let me know if something concerns him, but it does make me a little nervous. My parents smoked though out my childhood (Mom stopped in my teens, Dad’s been “working on it” for about 16 years), so I was certainly around it enough second hand to have had some issues, but…
He sent me out for some blood work to test for allergies as well. I know I have allergies that I fight year around, so I have no doubt they’ll find allergies, but I don’t know whether or not he’s going to want to give me something for that as well. We’ll see how that goes too, and I’ll probably write about it when the time comes as well.
In regards to the asthma, he asked me about all of the symptoms that I mentioned in that post a few weeks ago (trouble breathing, tight chest, wheezing, coughing, etc) and then he stepped outside to grab a SYMBICORT inhaler for me. After he asked about symptoms and I told him about how/when they happen and he didn’t need any more information than that. SYMBICORT contains formoterol, a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist, and budesonide. I don’t really know much about what that means, but since most of the people I’ve talked to use an albutrol inhaler, I figured I might as well share what he gave me. He also gave me a prescription for a rescue inhaler, but I don’t recall the info on it and don’t have it with me to tell you. He also gave me a steroid shot in the hip to give me a jump start.
This morning I wanted to give it an honest test, so I took my double-puffs this morning and then went to the gym and hopped on my treadmill. I started with a walk as I always do, bumped it up to a quick jog, back to a walk, and then up to my run speed of 9.0 for 60 seconds and then back down to a walk to see how things were going. I did still have some mucus issues in my throat, but it wasn’t too terrible. As for the breathing?
Results after my first day using an inhaler: HOLY CRAP, I CAN BREATHE!!!
— Psynister (@psynister) February 5, 2013
I had to cut the run short due to some digestion issues I wasn’t anticipating, but it was a nice run that lasted 42 minutes with an average heart rate of 149 (I actually tried to monitor that this time). Afterwards I was certainly breathing heavy from the run itself, but I had my breathing under control in under 2 minutes, and I had no trouble breathing at all.
It seriously makes me regret all the years I’ve spent struggling to breath after exercise because I thought it was perfectly normal for a fat guy to struggle breathing. After today, experiencing the difference between breathing heavy due to exertion and not being able to breath because your lungs are swelling shut, I very strongly urge you to contact your doctor if you struggle breathing during/after exercise. There’s a whole world of difference. If I had had any clue that this was a thing, and something so easily treated, I would have done this decades ago. Instead of feeling completely drained after my workout, I felt fantastic. I could freaking BREATHE, people! And what a difference it makes.