Knowing Your Boundaries
Good asthma control is the goal of any asthma treatment program. It should allow you to do all the things you enjoy. But, you also need to know your limits. You should be aware of your boundaries. Those lines you do not cross. Here’s what to know.
An asthmatic who exercises
Bob was an exercise guru.
I had a patient with pneumonia many, many years ago. He was an exercise guru. He ran just about every day. He even taught exercise classes. He was in, like, perfect shape. He even had a six pack. So, he’s not the typical patient that I see.
Well, I often saw him running through town. I’d see him even during the coldest winter days. Once I even thought I saw him during a blizzard. I was stopped at a stop sign. I saw the figure of a man jogging past me. He was wearing a winter coat and ski mask. He looked at me briefly, "Bob?" I inquired out loud. I did a double take and Bob was gone. Like, that’s dedication to run in such horrid Michigan weather.
Well, needless to say, one day he ended up in my care. He was diagnosed by a doctor with pneumonia. He had a fever. He was very weak. He just didn’t look like himself at all. And, so, I ended up sitting in his room every four hours. I had to give him albuterol breathing treatments.
Not recognizing your limits with asthma
One day, he crossed THAT line.
So, I got to know Bob pretty well during the ensuing weeks. We got to talking. And, one day, we talked about Bob. He brought it up, not me. He said:
“You know John, I think I crossed the line. You know I run every day. It becomes a habit, almost. You just get up every day, take a shower, get dressed, and go for a run. And you feel like you can’t miss a day. So, even if you get a cold, you just run through it. My cold got really bad. I talked to my doctor. He told me I should take a few days off from running. I figured, 'Nah! I’m fine. I’m young. I’m healthy. I can handle this.’
“Well, wasn’t I the fool? Look at me now. I’m stuck in here for two weeks because I crossed the line. So, how much progress do you think I will lose now? I can tell you it will be a lot more than if I had just taken a few days off to get over this. So, I learned my lesson the hard way, you might say.”
He paused, looked up at me, and said, “Don’t let this happen to you. Know your boundaries.”
A lesson learned
I still think of Bob’s lesson.
As a kid, I would often cross the same line he did. I was a non-compliant asthmatic. I would often end up in hospitals as a result. So, what Bob said was well heeded by this asthmatic.
A month ago I came to that realization that I’m too out of shape. I was winded just walking through the house. I was feeling sluggish and blah! So, I decided to put down the fork. I decided to get a membership at the health club. And I re-started my exercise program. I started running my asthmatic way of running all over again.
Man was I cruising. In fact, last Thursday I got up and weighted myself. “Woo Hoo!” I thought, as I saw that I had lost 10 pounds. This motivated me even more. I went to the health club and had my best workout ever. Man, was I feeling motivated.
But then I hit the wall
I got a cold. As respiratory viruses usually do, it worked it’s way to my chest. I can feel it down there. I feel the chest tightness. I feel the mild shortness of breath. Yes, I needed my rescue medicine with increased frequency.
Like, this is definitely a wall. A line is drawn in the sane I wants so bad to cross it. I want so bad to go to the health club and work out. I want to keep up the pace. I want to use up this energy. I want to lose more weight.
But, I know better. I know I can’t. I know I shouldn’t. I know I need to take this weekend off. I need to rest and recover.
What to make of this?
It’s good to push yourself. It’s good to stay physically active. But, you also have to know your boundaries. You have to have a line that you do not cross. And you do not cross it. Bob has managed to avoid seeing me since that day. But, I still see him from time to time running swiftly through town.
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