Just Breathe (Easy for you to say!) – An asthmatic’s journey to fitness

I had slight asthma as a youngster but with an afternoon of rest, I was back outside playing. Throughout the next 30+ years, I had minor reactions to foods and air-born stuff that made me wheeze. It didn’t stop me (I was a gymnast) and it was so infrequent that I never worried about it.

Both of my children had asthma growing up. They had a few of 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 had severe asthma for years. It was bad in the morning and in the middle of the night – the times when his tiny lungs had compressed from sleeping.

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 all over the country, just like his sister had done. He still carries a rescue inhaler but you would never know now what he suffered then.

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 46. During an evening jog around Town 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 lay down on the cold tiled floor. I took slow breaths. I put a wet rag on my forehead. It took two 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 married my husband (after dating on and off for 9+ years). I was allergic to one of our dog’s dander. My breathing go so bad, the dog went to live with relatives; I got on more meds. In addition to the Allegra D and Fluticasone, I was given a nebulizer treatment and put on Singulaire, Symbacort, steroids, and antibiotics to clear up my lung infection. Then, I was prescribed a “rescue inhaler,” in case I needed it. I did. Often.

By this time, I had been lifting weights for three years and still jogging but my breathing got worse. It would take two hours in the morning to get my breathing under control. During the middle of the night, I had coughing fits that landed me in front of the bathroom sink spewing phlegm. Not real sexy hocking up loogies, just ask my husband.

As an important aside, at 51, I got my hormone levels checked and went on BioTE® Medical bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and pharmaceutical grade supplements (nutraceuticals). To say that it changed my life is an understatement. It has helped me improve in every area of my life. I still have difficulty breathing but without BHRT, I have no doubt, my body and my emotions would never be able to withstand the stronghold asthma has had on me.

I am now 54. It has taken me years to admit that I have chronic asthma. I can’t breathe sometimes. It’s a rough condition, 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 will hopefully bring relief. I still jog but do more walking and for much longer distances (7-10 miles a day, sometimes more). I am lifting with a trainer who has decided I need to get “competition ready” over the next 12-20 weeks. I’ve never done anything like that but I have accepted the challenge. (I am chronicling that journey an may write about it soon…)

I still have asthma and it still sucks. It is daily and nightly. I can even trigger an attack from laughing too hard – no joke. Asthma doesn’t prevent me from exercising though. It never has and I don’t expect it ever will. Exercise is my revenge. Asthma be damned.

I consider my chronic asthma an inconvenience, a small roadblock about which I’ve decided I will just jog around and power-lift through. So far, I’m winning – and I’m still breathing.

Just for the health of it,


BioTE® medical providers are nationwide. For a provider near you, visit www.biotemedical.com

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