Aches And Pains: Aging Or Asthma

I’m older now. I’m not THAT old! But, I am 48. I do feel some body aches and pains. They kind of limit what I can do in the gym. It’s frustrating in a way. So, as I’m doing my workout today, a question pops into my mind: “Are these aches and pains due to aging or asthma? This got me to thinking.

Ascertaining if aches and pains are asthma-related

I’m at the health club.

And I’m working on my biceps. And the exercise I’m doing is a machine. It’s the kind of machine weaklings like me use. Like, the big, muscular, serious weightlifters are in the other room. They are using free weights. They are lifting 300 or 3,000 pounds per arm. And here I am lifting a measly 20 pounds with both arms using a machine.

Like, I waited as an elderly gentleman (way older than me) used this machine before me. When he was finished, I had to reduce the weight from 80 pounds to 20 pounds. The guy was watching as I did this. I quipped, “Does it boost your ego that you can lift more than me?”

He smiled. “I guess I still have strong arms.”

I start working out. And this is when a question enters my mind. “Why am I using this machine? Why has it come to this?”

“Ah!” I think to myself. “No aches and pains when I use this machine.”

I sprained my wrist three years ago.

Maybe it was further back than that. This made it impossible for me to do bicep curls. You’re always told not to lift when you feel pain. So, I didn’t. But, I also didn’t want to lose my progress. So, I visited my doctor.

I told him what I did. My youngest son was sleeping in the bed. He and my wife were taking up most of the mattress. Like, I had only a sliver to sleep on. I woke up as I was falling out of bed. I caught myself with my arm. I thought nothing of it the rest of the night. But, the next day my wrist was swollen and sore. The next day I was unable to do my bicep workout. The pain in my wrist was too much.

My doctor said, “I think it’s a normal pain. If I were you, I would use very light weights. I would gradually increase weights over time. Do this very slowly, even painfully (no pun intended) slowly. I think then you will gradually be able to get back to where you were.”

So I heeded his advice.

And it worked. I gradually increased my weights. I started lifting 5 pounds with each arm. Other than a dull ache in my wrist, this was too easy. I did this for several months. I mean, if I were able to increase weights, I’d be lifting 3,000 pounds per arm by now. But, here I was lifting a measly 5 pounds.

I was able to gradually increase to 20 pounds per arm. But, I was only able to do hammer curls. Any other bicep workout caused me pain. So, fast forward three years. I am still doing hammer curls. I am still using only 20 pounds. Any other combination causes pain.

Is the use of asthma inhaled steroids to blame?

I go back to my doctor.

By now a theory has postulated in my mind.

I said, “Do you think it’s all the inhaled steroids I take? Do you think that might explain why I don’t heal?”

He said, “That’s a good possibility.”

It was neat that he agreed with me. My ego goes up a notch: from 0 to 1.

My doctor is smart. He’s what you’d call a great asthma doctor.

Like me, he keeps up on his asthma research. Like me, he knows there is scanty evidence to support this theory. But, I have been taking inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for 40 years. So, I’m sure a small amount has seeped into blood vessels lining my airways. It’s possible this causes small amounts of the medicine to get into my system.

Steroids suppress the immune response. ICS aren’t supposed to get into your system. But, I”m guessing just enough has over the years to slow my healing process. This probably explains the bruises that don’t go away. It probably explains the injuries that heal at annoyingly sloth-like speeds.

What to make of this?

Don’t be fooled. I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not even close. I’m more Hans and Franz-ish. Still, I go through the motions. I try to keep myself healthy. I find this helps with asthma control. Still, it does get frustrating that I’m limited due to body aches and pains. And the question will always linger in the back of my mind: “Are they due to aging or asthma.”


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