Caught between a walk and a hard place

As I type this post up, I’m slowly recovering from what was my 91st Hospitalization. By asthma exacerbation standards, it was only a moderate attack, but it was by far one of the most stressful hospitalizations I’ve ever had. And to think I may have brought the attack on myself….I can only describe my feelings as … unsure of anything now.

Ok, so for whatever reason, I ended up in the hospital and ( ICU again) , but I’m still not totally convinced that my walking was the only culprit. In defense of the medical establishments stance on this subject , I have to agree that there is mounting evidence to support their theory that because my asthma is so severe and because I air trap , that I may be unknowingly exacerbating my own flare ups by “over-doing it”. Not just with my walking, but with ANY activity that causes physical or emotional stress . They also point out that regardless of how well I keep my internal living and breathing spaces clean and free of allergens, there are potential environmental triggers outside my home that could be making the milder exacerbations more severe. As logical as this all might sound, it’s still at best, speculation, an educated guess, one of the only explanations left , if you will. It could also be just as true, that no matter what I do, or how well I safeguard myself from all triggers, I’m going to get sick. It’s a classic catch 22. If I exercise ( or live) too much, I put myself at risk for death, if I don’t exercise , I will die an unhappy blob. Given a choice, which path do you think Id choose?

Coming in for treatment early probably thwarted off an intubation, but I’m beginning to wonder if all these preemptive hospital interventions are worth the huge emotional and physical drains they inflict on me. Never have I felt so much like a medical oddity or burden on the system. Never have I been poked , prodded or questioned by so many lung specialists in such short order. For the first time ever I got an uneasy feeling that they just wanted me be to do what a nice stoic severe asthmatic is supposed to do…not argue with them , take my steroids, and quietly fade away, (preferably at home). Never have I felt so beaten up depressed , or defeated after such a short hospital stay. As crazy as this might sound, when I used to wait until I was critically ill to come in, at least I felt justified that I was sick enough to be there in the first place and therefore the resulting torture was somehow acceptable.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not Superman and I am NOT a gluten for punishment . If I am making myself sick by pushing myself too hard during exercise, then I need to modify my training. Having said that, I am not afraid of dying doing something that I love.
Right now I’m working on an exercise plan to reduce both the mileage and intensity of my training walks, while at the same time maintaining a minimal level of endurance needed to complete the goals Ive set up for myself. Ive decided to eliminate the majority of my daily bridge walks, as this is where I’m most tempted to racewalk, (which is probably the main culprit in my walk related exacerbations.)

In the meantime, I’ve been referred to yet another team of ” asthma specialists” who work with the worst of the worst. From reading their bios, it looks like they deal primarily with behavior modification. I think they’re hoping that they can somehow brainwash me into thinking that I’m not short of breath, thereby eliminating the dyspnea-anxiety cycle. I’ve agreed to try anything except psych meds or anything that makes you “feel” that it’s OK to suffocate.

For those of you who think Ive wimped out because of this recent set back, this Saturday, just 4 days after getting out of the hospital, I will redo the 8 miler that supposedly made me sick to begin with. This time however, I will not push myself as hard. If I can pull this off without getting sick, then the plan is to continue with bi-weekly LSDs to prepare me for the upcoming summer races.

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5 thoughts on “Caught between a walk and a hard place

  1. Wow. That sounds horrible. And to think that I had trouble dragging my sorry but healthy behind out of bed this morning to do my hard workout. I am lucky to be able to do it at all! I needed a good dose of perspective, thanks. But what I really hope is that you are able to do your LSDs and do some more races, despite it all.

  2. All I can say is keep doing what you love to keep living, because that’s what life is about.

    And just like Dori in Finding Nemo said…Just keep swimming…. And for you, just keep walking!

  3. Steve —

    BIG HUG AND LOVE FROM DENVER!!!!

    Firstly – you are not a slacker! Secondly – you are going to figure out how to keep going, because that is who you are. Thirdly – I think you’ll drive everyone in your house nuts if you decide to go home, sit on the couch, eat bon-bons and wait for the grim reaper!!

    Just a thought – can you slow the speed a little, wear one of those doofy little particle masks so you’re not inhailing the delightful exhaust, and maybe go slightly shorter distances especially during times when air particulate icky gunk might be high?

    Worst of the worst … GET THAT OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!! Don’t make me fly out there and whollop you!!! Best of the Best … who have the heart, drive and determination to not be just a lower statistic!

    I know you’ll find a way to keep going … you might not make those goals this year … but maybe let some of us take on some of that load.

    I love you, Steve … as the song goes — just breathe … please … just breathe! We’ve got walks to take!!

    Love – Lizzy

  4. Okay, I’ve already said what I needed to in my email, but—I’m in awe of the path you take. Keep arguing and fighting! You are NOT a burden.

    Take care of yourself.

  5. Nothing annoys me more than doctors who think their is a psychological component to asthma. Yeah, I’m sure there are some patients who DO have a psycholocical proponent, and I have a regular who is that way. In her case, she comes from a messed up home, and is depressed all the time because of it. 90% of Asthmatics do not have a psychological proponent, unless they are anxious because they are SOB, at which time some Xanax might come in handy.

    I’ve experienced the psyche docs plenty of times when I was a kid.

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