Friday, February 06, 2009

Breathe In Breathe Out

My on again/off again breathing issues this winter finally forced me to consult the opinion of a health care professional yesterday. It was my first office visit with our friend and doctor Greg. Aside from finding out that my lungs are really fu**ed up, it was far and away the most pleasant visit to the doctors office I've ever had. I thought it may be a little weird going to see a doctor who you were friends with, but nothing could be further from the truth. We spent a good half hour discussing my general health and training regiment before diving into the main reason I came to see him: my sporadic inability to take in a complete breath over the last couple of months. Enter the Personal Best Peak Flow Meter pictured below.

Before deciding what course of action to take, Greg wanted to see what kind of numbers I could put up on the meter. For someone my height and age, I should be able to put out around 635 ml/min. I told him I was feeling pretty good yesterday, so I wasn't sure if the test would tell us much. I blew into the tube as hard as I could three times. I couldn't get the red marker over the 500 mark. And I didn't feel short of breath at all yesterday. Houston, we have a problem, and it's name is asthma. So what does all this mean? I did the math so you don't have to. Over the last couple of months, on good days I've been operating with a 21.2 % decrease in lung capacity. This morning I took a reading when I first got up. I felt a little short of breath but not too bad. I hit 450, barely. That's a 29.1% decrease. Holy S**t. Now all the issues I've been having this winter are starting to make sense. Obviously this explains the shortness of breath, but I've also been experiencing what I felt like was an increased heart rate. If my blood is only getting 75 or 80% of the oxygen it normally does, it makes sense that it would have to circulate it at a greater rate in order to do the same amount of work that I'm used to. Anyway, I've got this nifty little steroid inhaler. After two puffs, I can get my output up to 550. After about six hours, I'm back down below 500. Two more puffs and I'm back to a hair over 550. For the next three weeks I'm supposed to test myself many times throughout the day, and record my puffs and numbers. Since I'm not a professional athlete, at least I don't have to worry about getting a TUE. I'm going to start back to full time light training next week, and we're just going to have to play it by ear as far as the racing goes. Have a good weekend, and take a nice deep breath for me.


Sarah said...

See if EdO can still get you some Advair!

Zach Rodgers said...

That's intense man. Must be a relief to have a diagnosis and treatment options. You'll recall I had asthma as a kid. Was on prescription drugs until about age 8, then just the inhaler to puberty. Very manageable.

Sarge said...

Haven't you used an inhaler in the past? Seems like I remember you using one before. Hope it all works out for the best, looking forward to seeing those race posts.