I was in grade 8 and it was the TDSSAA track and field championships. I was by this time a “long distance” runner and was finally allowed to run the 3000m event. The race started, and I felt pretty good that day. I was pretty confident with where I would finish in the field, knowing my competitors very well. The reason my memory of this day is so vivid, is this was the day I would face my first obstacle that would stay with me for the rest of my life.As I rounded the track, every lap became more laboured. I was going through the motions, but I had no idea what was happening to me. I finished the race, not breathing and for the first time rushed to the medical tent. It was mostly a blur and I was taken immediately to see my doctor. With some simple tests, my doctor quickly concluded I had asthma. I had many more appointments after this to help me learn how to use my medication, how to understand this condition and most importantly how I was going to continue to do what I loved most; run.
Being asthmatic has absolutely no PROS, and only a long list of CONS. If anyone within a street block gets sick, you immediately go into a panic. Any cold, flu or virus that could potentially reach you is not just a cold or flu for an asthmatic. These cold and flus can rapidly turn into pneumonia, bronchitis or set off a series of asthma attacks. I become germaphobic during cold seasons and have always avoided any type of public transportation for this reason.
The Flu shot, as controversial as it is for some people, is a must for me. I fought it for years, only spending the flu season sick for months at a time. I finally gave in to the fact that this was better for my health. Since taking the flu shot if I do get sick, I get normal sick like someone does with healthy lungs.
The asthma attacks however are the biggest con of all. Not all asthma is equal. Some have night-time asthma, some have exercise induced asthma and some allergy induced asthma. Whatever the type of asthma you happen to have, you will at some point experience an asthma attack. The attack can come from out of no where and they can take hours or days from your life. A small attack can range to a coughing fit for several minutes, cured by a simple dose of the rescue puffer. Other attacks can take hold of you, leaving you gasping for air, coughing so hard, you eventually empty the contents of your stomach.
For several weeks, I’ve been an accidental bulimic. With my night time asthma coming back to haunt me, I find myself hugging the toilet most nights around 2am. I wake up weak, tired and starving but still unable to eat solids. The attacks drain so much of your energy and as a runner, getting my workouts done has been a chore.
I’ve battled asthma my whole life and this is just a temporary set back. Set backs are part of life, part of running and part of competing. If you suffer from asthma, know we all understand your suffering and frustration. Learn about the treatments and ways to keep it under control. Don’t let it defeat you but make sure you are on the correct treatment. Most importantly you should know the first signs and symptoms and emergency procedures to take control of an attack.