Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exercise and asthma

One thing I've been able to do as an adult that I NEVER could do when I was younger is exercise. I think this is one of the main reasons I write so much about the importance of good asthma control and exercise.

I was always a skinny little kid to begin with, so there was no urgency that I work out. While I do remember my doctor discussing the importance of exercise, it was this same doctor who wrote the excuse slip that got my out of Gym class.

My dad loved sports, and I remember watching him lay basketball and baseball. Of course wanting me to follow in his tracks, he encouraged me to play sports. Yet basketball and asthma don't mix. Likewise, baseball spewed up a lot of dust.

So dad had me do push ups and sit-ups. He had me start at 10, and every week he had me add two. By the time I was 16 I could 100 of each with ease. I couldn't run, but I could do push-ups and sit-ups better than anyone. Oh, and I could stand on my head.

My older brother Bobby tried to get me to lift weights with him when I was a teen, yet the weights were in the basement. Since playing under forts built in the basement living-room area, and roller skating down their when I was a kid, triggered many life threatening asthma attacks when I was little, I had no interest lifting weights in the basement.

When I was in college my friends tried to get me to lift weights, yet I wasn't interested. "It's boring," I remember saying to them. "What a dumb and dis interesting hobby."

Also in college I was known to buy a large pizza and eat the entire thing. I was skinny, so weight gain was not a concern. However, once college ended when I was 23, I continued to eat like I always did. The problem now is I was no longer growing up, so I started growing out. I think this is a problem with most adults.

So now I was 24 and my friends were making fun of my gut. Of course you should add in beer to my diet. I'm proud to say I never touched a drop of alcohol in high school (although I did have the opportunity), but when I was in college I became an avid beer drinker. I never abused alcohol, I just like it's relaxing effects, especially after a long week of studying (and later working).

When my older brother Bobby got married in 1991 I was still in good shape when I stood up in his wedding. The same was true when my younger brother David got married in 1992. Yet when my younger brother Dan got married in 1994, I was fat. I remember feeling so sluggish I was embarrased. I decided right there something needed to be done.

Of course it didn't help that my asthma was dong poorly again by this time too. Hmmm, I wonder if obesity had something to do with it? I was fat. I was 220 pounds on a 5'8" frame. I was also the shortest person in my family, perhaps a little growth stunt due to asthma and steroid usage.

This was also when I started respiratory school. The entire time I was in RT school I was fat, winded, stressed, and I ate and drank every chance I got. I had fun. I enjoyed life to the fullest. Perhaps I had so much fun because I knew for the first time what I wanted to do with my life. Yet the struggle to get through the very intense RT program was mighty.

There were a few days I had to miss school because of my asthma, yet I refused to ever go to the hospital for my asthma attacks. I hired a pulonologist, yet I ended up firing him because he was an asshole. Excuse the term, yet that' show I viewed him. He was a control freak, and I was a laid back person who wanted a little control.

In retrospect, I was probably the jerk. I needed someone to be firm with me, and to tell me I needed to start being compliant with my asthma medicines (I wasn't a gallant asthmatic back then). I was, however, a gallant asthmatic from the time I was discharged from the asthma hospital in July of 1995 until I completed my Bachelor's Degree in 1993 from Ferris State University.

Yet that degree was in Journalism and Advertising. Obviously those degrees didn't jibe well with me, so I decided to start over in RT school. It was a good choice. Yet by the time I completed RT school, after I was hired at Shoreline Medical Center where I still work, I had a bad asthma attack and ended in the hospital for 10 days.

One of my coworker, Sahara, RTs came in to visit me. She also took care of me when I was a hardluck asthmatic when I was a kid. I figured she'd come in and sit and visit with me. Well, she did. Yet it didn't go as I planned. Instead she lectured me.

She said something like, "Every time I see you you're eating Big Macs and Whoppers. You don't exercise. You're really overweight. You probably aren't taking your asthma meds either. If you keep up on this track you're going to be dead in 10 years."

Then she got up and walked out. I was so ticked at her I never spoke to her another five years unless I had to. However, it was at this point I started on some of the newer asthma medicines. Instead of taking Azmacort 4 puffs 4 times a day I switched to Flovent which only needed to be taken twice a day. This improved my asthma compliance.

This was also when a co-worker came to me and asked if I wanted to join a group that was going to the health club every day to work out. I said, "Hell no. I'm not wasting my time with that." However, she proceeded to convince me to "just come one time."

Well, needless to say, I went that "one time." That was in 1998. I was 220 pounds when I worked out that day. A year later I was one of only two of that group of 10 that was still working out at the health club. I dropped all the way down to a very smooth 180 pounds.

The neat thing about that experience was the first time I hopped onto a stationary bike. I was actually scared that I wouldn't be able to do it because of my asthma. There was a similar uneasiness the first time I jogged on the treadmill. Yet since I was now compliant and on much better asthma meds than ever before, I did NOT have an asthma attack.

The problem was, as with most people who have to live their lives, the weight came back.

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