Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Whole Jumble of Feelings- Brought to you by Asthma.

So, here is the thing about being a person who is morbidly obese.  You get used to blaming everything that isn't right about your body on being morbidly obese.  Here are some examples:

My legs fall asleep if I am sitting in the wrong chair, or for too long on the toilet.  Short as I am, flying 'Spirit Airlines,' in a window seat does it to me too.  Must be 'cause I am fat.

My Neuropathy (numbness, in my thigh, caused by an impinged nerve) is sometimes insanely out of control.  Surely being thinner would help it never to happen at all. (Update 2018- after losing 65 pounds on a low carb diet, I STILL have an impinged nerve. It still bothers me.)

Sometimes, I  feel like there is a big fat guy, or an elephant sitting on my chest.  Must be 'cause I am too fat, or too out of shape or something.  Out of shape especially.  Never mind how much my fitness has improved in six months. Never mind two half marathons completed.  I am out of shape.  Even though I KNOW you can't go from  in good shape to completely out of shape in a month or less.

Best yet, when I went to a Doctor to talk about some symptoms I had after the Hamilton Half Marathon, he implied it was because I just wasn't fit enough. I sort of bought it, but realized that it had to be something else, after wearing a holter monitor and getting totally normal results (60 as a resting pulse.) 

When I walked in the Miami Marathon, I felt so ashamed that it took me almost six hours.  The whole time (in the insane heat and humidity) I felt like I had someone sitting on my chest, and to boot, my sciatica, in a PMS week, was horrendous.  Since I had  not trained intensely since our trip to Las Vegas a month before, I thought for sure it was because I wasn't good enough.  I was baffled though by how thoroughly my ass was kicked, because I had done the Hamilton Half a couple of months before and there is NO way one would lose that much ability just from undertraining.

Upon my return, I could feel the difference in the air as soon as the  plane took off but especially once outside in the -30C dry air of Buffalo.  While cold can be one of my triggers for asthma (I coughed for a week after the Hamilton HM-walked in 2 C weather).  My chest lightened and it suddenly struck me that perhaps I wasn't giving asthma enough weight as part of the 'Lesson's Learned' post race debrief.

So here is what I learned.  Lots of people's legs fall asleep.  Young people, Adults, seniors.  It has almost zero to do with weight.

My neuropathy was caused by a lifeguarding training accident when I was 16.  I was diving off a guard chair, my foot slipped and it caused an impinged nerve.  My back was first affected and it took six months before it stopped hurting constantly. For the longest time, I could not stand to wash my face- I would shower instead.  It came back to bite my back and thigh when I was pregnant the first time.  It flares up and down but I KNOW that my skinny as a stick friends also have the problem and some of them worse than me.  Not saying weight loss might not help but am saying its not because I am fat. All this confirmed by my Neurologist.

The problem of my heart pounding?  Not weight related.  Remotely.  It was a medicine I was taking.

Now, the guy sitting on my chest.  Well, that it seems is what asthma feels like.  I thought asthma was just wheezing.  Apparently it manifests itself in different ways. One way it manifests itself is by heaviness.  Another is breathlessness.  Poor oxygenation.  No, it isn't that I was too out of shape for Miami.  It isn't that I was too fat (not that I could not be in better shape, or thinner.)

Yesterday , I went for a Methaocoline Challenge.  I have known about my asthma for years, diagnosed as a child, then as a young adult and never had a methacoline challenge which is the official way to be diagnosed.  It was a sort of interesting process and ultimately, the confirmation of the diagnosis does not mean as much as what I learned while sitting there.

It turns out that asthma can manifest itself exactly as it did in Miami.  And sometimes when I run up the stairs or even just walk from the kitchen to the dining room.  It doesn't happen all the time because I am not having asthma attacks all the time.  It does happen when I am exercising.  THAT is what is happening all those times I am trying to walk 180 beats a minute which i should be able to do, but sometimes can't.  Its not that I am not fit enough when that happens, I am not oxygenating properly because my lungs are compromised.  Exercise is definitely a trigger so its something I need to get proactively preventing, which is why I started the process of figuring out what went wrong in Miami in the first place!

It is SUCH a relief to hear that these symptoms are a part of athsma!  As much as I tried not to let it affect my self esteem, I feel SO much better knowing this is not because I am some fraud who talks a good game but just isn't up to it.  And then I remember that the reason I wanted to find out about all of this is that I WANT to keep walking- Outside preferably!  And, that should have been enough not to make me question whether I was good enough, or a whiner.  Yes, I am morbidly obese, but if I had been thin, I would have been much more accepting that this was a medical matter rather than a medically related one.  I want to be fairer to myself in future.

The gift that was the methacoline challenge test is that I went from feeling embarrassed and ashamed at how badly I handled Miami, to pride that I actually finished DESPITE what I now know was my  body screaming at me that it just did not have enough oxygen to support the race I was doing.  No wonder I ended up in the medical tent thinking I was going to have a heart attack because I could not breathe.  Interesting that they missed it was asthma too....Yesterday, at 33% down, I felt way better than I did in that race. The knowledge that I DID finish even with diminished capacity and a longer finish time, is not embarrassing, is not just ok,  but in point of fact is stellar.

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