The impatient patient
Oh goody, another post about asthma exacerbation recovery.
After being discharged from the hospital only 3 days ago, it’s probably a little early to be writing about this topic again, but something is definitely different this time around. The recovery seems excruciatingly slow( gee, where have I heard that before?).
In my mind I should be healing much faster than I am. This recent 8 day stint in the hospital has not only wiped out all the walk training gains I made earlier in the month, but it’s also left me with a huge deficit. So much so, that Im not sure I’ll be able to catch up in time to get the amount of training that I need to safely finish the race. I was fully aware when I started this quest that something like this might happen, it’s just that I need to know as soon as possible, what my chances are of resuming training for this race. With less than 2 months left, Im getting down to the wire. Training and building the endurance required for me to just walk a marathon, is a big deal. I have to train continually and meticulously. In a sense I have to over-train to make sure I have enough reserve. Most marathoners will tell you, it’s those last 6 miles that are the worse. For me it’s more like the last 20 miles. It’s harder than it looks to walk continuously for 7 or 8 hours when you can’t breath.
The physical issues that are plaguing me the most right now aren’t so much my lungs. Because I havent weaned off the roids yet, Im actually breathing pretty well. It’s my leg muscles that have me really worried. I can barely stand up, let alone walk. Normally at 3 days post hospital Im back to walking at least 1.5 miles, albeit at a slower pace. Yesterday it took me almost 50 minutes to walk 1.25 miles. At that rate it would take me 20 hours to do a marathon. Another issue has been my balance. I walk like Im drunk. I start spacing out and I almost fall. Part of that is probably from the steroids, some dehydration and lack of sleep, but once again, Im not used to these problems lasting so many days out. Why is it happening now?
That said, here are some post asthma exacerbation FACTS that Im using to convince myself that Im just impatient. Maybe this will help others who are experiencing something similar:
Starting with the evil candy, prednisone can cause steroid myopathy making skeletal muscle really weak. They also mess with the electrolyte function involved with muscle contraction. We all know how fun steroid induced muscle cramps can be. And while I was on a relatively short course at the higher dose range, with steroids there’s an accumulative effect over time. The more you cycle on and off the drug, even if for just short periods, the more damage they do to your body. Many Pulmonologists believe that it’s easier on the body to stay on a low maintenance dose ( 5-10mg) permanently , than to repeatedly bolus. Having been on this drug for the better part of 50 years, my opinion on this is somewhat mixed. I think it all depends on whether the drug is actually preventing or lessening the severity of flare ups. There comes a point for many ( including myself) , where the side effects are worse then any potential benefit.. Suffice it to say, if it’s not helping, why take it?
Secondly, there’s the issue of age.( Ok, I can hear my young friends giving me the “you’re not old” talk ). I walk tons of miles every week. Other than crappy lungs, Im in pretty good shape… but my body is old!! Im not pushing 40, I’m pushing 60! No matter how well you take care of yourself, things are bound to start wearing out and breaking down as you age.
Finally, there’s the problem of being bed bound for a week. It’s amazing how fast your muscles deteriorate when you don’t use them. Being intubated and asleep on a ventilator seems to hasten and intensify this effect. Im not an expert in the subject, but I think it might have something to do with the anesthetic drugs they use to keep you asleep, in my case Propofol. Being placed in an induced coma for a couple days isn’t the same as sleeping. It gives you a break from the chore of breathing, but that’s about it.
Probably the biggest problem Im experiencing right now is impatience. There you have it. By jotting down my thoughts on the matter, Ive just proved to myself that what I am going through is probably normal for what Ive been through. I tend to start thinking negatively if things dont go well immediately after a bad flare. No matter how many times I go through this, I always say the same thing.. Why is it taking me so long to recover??? I know many of my readers ask the same questions, because that’s how they find my blog.
I gotta cut myself some slack, and if you have bad asthma, you should too! Stuff happens when you have this effing disease. If I’m impatient, it’s because I wanna cram as much into my life as I can while Im still able. Sounds reasonable to me.