Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Engine Failure...

Last night I felt like a Formula 1 driver suffering catastrophic equipment failure. I was scheduled for an 8K tempo run and I felt great out of the gate. After about a kilometre and a half - about nine minutes in - I began having more and more difficulty breathing and maintaining my pace and before I knew it I was suddenly all out of breath. I mean completely out of breath. I was gasping like a fish out of water. Even more disconcerting was my inability to draw a full breath. My chest began to constrict and I was having trouble both inhaling and exhaling. My heart rate shot through the roof and I could feel my pulse pounding in my ear drums.

I had fallen off the pace precipitously and Michael pulled alongside me and asked what was wrong. I gasped that I thought I was having an asthma attack and the next thing I knew I was unable to breathe at all, let alone talk coherently. I crashed to a walk and had to stop, unable to even walk for a moment. The rest of the clinic flooded past me, many expressing concern and I waved them by.

I have been taking an inhalor to control what I thought was a relatively mild case of exercise-induced asthmas for a few years now. As a child I had asthma but mostly grew out of it, although during vigorous exercise I was always a bit wheezy, at one point even being nicknamed "Freight Train" by a few friends I ran with. Last night was a full-blown flashback to being a skinny little kid with asthma, unable to breathe unless I was propped up in bed. There really is no more frightening feeling than being unable to breathe. It is like drowning with no way to get to the surface. You have a feeling of terrible helplessness. My chest was absolutely constricted and I literally had to come to a complete standstill, unable to move without being close to passing out. Without airflow and oxygen I had literally run out of gas and I stalled on the Seawall gasping for breath, or better yet, a complete lack of breath. More worrisome yet was the fact that the attack seemed to come out of nowhere.

I usually take a shot or two from my puffer before exercise and all is fine, but I had still not unpacked my bag from my recent trip to California and I was running around town all day trying to get caught up with business, visiting my Dad who was in town from Arizona, getting to the Marathon Clinic and then squeezing in a friend's Art Gallery opening afterwards - needless to say I overlooked being fully prepared... It just goes to show you that you can't take anything for granted.

I walked back to the Running Room, gasping away and every time I tried to increase my pace I couldn't. Once or twice I actually had to stop and sit on a bench and try to catch my breath. Any real exertion was impossible. And of course my inhalor was at home. Relief would have to wait.

But while the good Lord occasionally taketh away, He also giveth. But more about that later. I have to run off and insure my car...


Blogger Scooter said...

I had an aunt pass away from an asthma incident. Don't take it lightly. I'm sure this was devastatingly frightening. I guess the inhaler is like the American Express card..."Don't leave home without it."

Be well. I'm looking forward to meeting you at Boston - don't screw it up!

8:29:00 AM  
Blogger Justin Callison said...

Didn't see it was you as we passed or I would have stopped. God knows I was looking for an excuse! :-) Be careful out there buddy, I know how horrible it feels to not be able to breathe.

I had a lotta trouble breathing out there too, but I can't blame it on Asthma. First tempo run in over 3 months. Yikes. Saw 191 for the first time in a while!

6:59:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

OK, Vince, time for a new post. You put one up that talks about a potentially serious problem, then nothing for over a week.

7:18:00 PM  

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