About three weeks ago on a trip to Spain for a friend’s wedding I had a dream. Well more of a nightmare. In my dream I was struggling to breath. Someone who I couldn’t see gave me an oxygen mask. I tried to breath deeply but I couldn’t. The faceless person gave me another mask and told me to try this one. Again I tried to take a deep breath and yet I couldn’t, nothing seemed to move. The faceless person told me I was doing it wrong and shouted at me. Panic consumed me and then I woke up and I was wheezing and I couldn’t take a breath.
I started taking my reliever inhaler, sat up, drank some water and made an attempt to calm down. My husband was passed out from all the booze and food of a long day at a hot wedding reception. I half thought to wake him but decided against it. After all what could he do? So I stayed sat up, eyes closed, intermittently taking my inhaler and eventually the wheeze eased enough that I didn’t feel panic stricken.
I didn’t tell my husband properly until we were home the next day and I felt safe. I don’t know why, maybe I didn’t want to be dragged off to a doctor while I was abroad. The day after we got home I went to the GP and was given steroids. Not the type that would make me beef up but enough to get my irritated air ways to calm the fuck down. They did help but I felt a little dismissed when the GP told me I ‘it was just a flare up’. So I saw the asthma nurse and she confirmed that I had had an asthma attack. She altered my medication slightly and gave me a new tablet especially for asthmatic hayfever sufferers. Honestly I love the summer but it really fucks me over. And then she gave me the kicker: no exercise or training for a month (not that I could anyway, I feel weak as a kitten). The nurse gave me an asthma management plan and a peak flow: if my peak flow goes below a certain level I have to go to hospital.
For the rest of that week I felt tearful and I cried a fair bit. I felt silly for crying but when I looked at asthma charity sites this is normal response after an attack. I was cross with myself for not looking after myself and not taking my preventer medication as regularly as I should. I was tearful because I’d had a real fright and I didn’t realise how quickly an attack can come on. And I was especially sad because I can’t run. I’m still wheezy and breathless and my peak flow still isn’t great. I feel dreadful a great deal of the time.
We are so fragile. I can cope with injury a bit better than I can cope with this but this almost seems easier to accept. I can’t cross train with asthma. It’s not physically possible. I have to be better. I have to be well. What I hope is that because I am a runner and fit person my attack wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I had plenty in reserve to cope with it. That’s what I’m telling myself, that is my silver lining. I need to let go of the plans I had for races this summer and shift my goals for the Cardiff Half in October. There are always other races. Being able to breath is more of a priority right now.