Monday, March 01, 2010


It's been a long time since I posted that I was fretting about something. I've had a fret-free life for a good while now. I've been enjoying that! But now I'm worried, and as these things typically go, it's not something I can ameliorate, prepare for, accelerate, decelerate, or change in any way. I've thought for a long time that I have asthma. Since my early college days, I've had shortness of breath when exercising. It's gotten worse over the years, though, and that's unusual for asthma. I've moved around a fair bit as an adult (though not as much as I did in my early years!) and so allergies have taken the blame for the increasing trouble. New city, new allergens, new reaction.

I went to a pulmonologist last week because I got tired of having asthma attacks while I was trying to get through the freaking WARM UPS for rugby practice. I've been on a new medicine, and I was hoping that would help, but it didn't. So I went in to the pulmonologist and he took my history and asked how, exactly, I was diagnosed with asthma. I explained that I went in to the doctor complaining of difficulty breathing when I exercise, and they started prescribing inhalers and that was pretty much that. I've been on increasingly larger doses of preventative inhalers for the last year or so, but that only helped for very low exertion levels. I could jog, which I hadn't been able to do before, but the triathlon workouts I was trying to do were triggering asthma almost every time. Only the very lowest-grade "recovery" workouts were safe. Anything that was meant to increase my cardiac capacity, or build my base fitness, was causing me to crash into the brick wall of asphyxiation. And, if you've never been there, I can assure you that it's as comfortable a place to crash as your standard issue, non-metaphorical brick wall.

This is where we get to the fretting part. Because he mentioned that I might not actually have asthma. I was pretty much expecting him to say, "Oh, yeah, when people don't respond to what you're on, we try them on this other drug and that usually clears them right up." Or even to scratch his head, and say, "Hmm, that usually works. Let's try this particular combination. If it's not right, I'll try a couple of others until we get this fixed." Instead, he mentioned this totally other condition and ordered some diagnostic testing to figure out what it is I have, REALLY. The other condition is what is keeping me mopey and awake nights. It's basically emphysema. It's very rare and not likely that I have it. Except, if you made a Venn diagram of My Family and People With Rare Medical Conditions, the overlap zone would be HUGE. And the progression of the disease sounds like my life's story.

Nothing I can do but take the tests and wait for the results. It's hard. And I'm fretting.