Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To Run

View as I left campus
So after a little persuasion in the form of comments  from Kerri and MC and some self reflection. I decided that I needed to just force myself to get up off the (couch) desk chair and get out there and put one foot in front of the other. I sometimes let asthma be my excuse for being a slacker which isn't cool.
Start of the Trail on the way out
I had a beautiful day to go for a walk/run/jog/intermittent speed forward motion. The sky was really that blue and it was beautifully sunny(oops... no sunscreen hope I don't find any sunburn tomorrow).  There is a fairly quiet little walking/biking trail not too far from campus that is 1.33 miles(2.14km) one way from my ResHall to the field it dead ends into.  I took it at a mediumly brisk walking pace down until I got to the part that I was going to calibrate my Nike + on.  At which point I discover that my sensor is refusing to be recognized by the iPod. I messed around with the darn thing for a good 5 or so minutes. In which time randomly two bulldogs and their owners come by somewhat scarily(they were really pulling their owners who had them counter weighted by a little red wagon full of bricks).
Heading back to campus, I love the green stuff that surrounds the trail :)
I gave up on the sensor but did run about half a mile(.8 km) and then walked the rest of the way back to campus. All and all it was a pretty awesome start to my hurried training for the 5k in 17 days. I did get my sensor working once I got back to my room and messed around with it quite a bit. Apparently the accelerometer mechanism was stuck somehow since a good thwack seemed to do the trick. All and all hopefully I'll be able to keep the motivation up and keep on going outside before I have to banish myself to the indoors for the winter.
Pepperoni Pizza

I came across a bunch of pizza scraps like this towards the end/start of the trail. I'm not really sure what the deal was with them since they were all cut off, not torn or chewed. and randomly scattered.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To Run or Not to Run

That is the question I was faced with as the deadline for early registration for my school's Homecoming 5k loomed about 45 minutes away. I have not been feeling up to jogging/power walking or really much of anything these last two weeks. However, I should probably find some motivation to get up and get moving.I think I've finally turned the flare-ish stuff around. I woke up not only in the green this morning but at 90% PF & FEV1. That was the one thing that was lagging behind these last few days was my FEV1 and I could feel it. I was also just plum tuckered out from the week of less than great breathing. Hopefully, a good night's sleep will come tonight to close my first (fingers crossed) ventolin-free day in almost 2 weeks.

I'm hoping if all goes well that I will be able to get back to some semi-vigorous pounding of the pavement tomorrow. I was doing pretty solid 16 minute mile 2.6ish mile(4.2ish km) walk/jogs before hormones tanked the lungs into purgatory for a good 10 days.  In the interim I've acquired a new toy: Nike + to go with my iPod nano (in case you couldn't guess from the picture). I can't wait to try it out and see it in action! All in all I'd like to go under 40 minutes for the 5k. However, it is October 16th which is fast approaching. I'm not sure if I can get myself going quick that soon. As usual mind over matter but carefully engaged with the lungs.

I'm not sure if this is a dumb idea to try to throw together a 5k training session into 18 days. I'll try my best. If nothing else I'll power walk it and still make it across the finish line. Hopefully the cooler fall weather will make it slightly easier to complete than my July yellow air quality 85F at 8am 5k that I did. Normally as long as the leaves don't mold fall is a nice time for me breathing wise(the last two weeks hopefully being an anomaly).  We'll take it slow and steady and most likely won't win the race but that's okay. I can only hope it's not like last year which was in the 40's when the race started. Average for this part of the country for that time of the year is 40's for lows and 60's for highs. I don't mind the cooler temperature I just don't want to have to wear sweats in public! Of course I really need to figure out what my cold weather on the bottom strategy is for running/walking. Since as long as it is not icy I'm willing to run up to a certain point with the wind speed and air temperature factored in. Generally around 10F(-12C) the lungs start to whine at me about outdoor exertion and at about -5F(-20C) they whine about being outside what-so-ever.

In non-running related Asthma stuff I'm trying out one of the free iPhone App's (yes, I know I'm too addicted to Apple products), AsthmaMD. I downloaded it last night while I was trying to fall asleep despite my lungs not behaving.  My first impression is that it is probably not my speed. I'm not really liking how I can't enter custom zones for my PF's. It's cool that they are using the data to research patterns, etc in Asthma on a huge scale. However, I'm not sure if the App is gonna be a hit for me. I'll let you all know what I think of it once I've messed around a little more.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heat of the Moment

I'm still here feeling under the weather. The lungs are holding their own. I'm not sure if I'm coming down with the cold my suitemate has(we share the same bathroom in a suite in the ResHall here) or if it's just allergies I feel yucky but not acutely so. My pf's are holding steady in the upper 80's/low 90's. I just feel generally run down and worn out a little mucus filled but nothing much. Hot showers have been my solace. Something about them makes me feel so much better. Probably mostly related to the heat relaxing my muscles.

I've also been enjoying sitting out in the afternoon sun. Something about the cool crisp fall air with the warmth from the sun makes me feel alive and happy. Probably not the best thing to be doing if the issue is allergies.

I've got a case of the ventolin shakes too. You could hear my dishes rattling as I took them over to the tray return this evening at dinner. Getting shaky from the ventolin is a good thing for me though. For better or for worse when my lungs are feeling better-ish they send the excess ventolin into shakes and jitters.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Invisible Illness Meme

Okay, so I'm a little late on this, my lungs have been misbehaving on me. Breathing takes presidence over blogging. :) So here goes.... 30 Things you didn't know about my Invisible Illness:
1. The illness(es) I live with is: Asthma, Allergies(primarily Mold & Dust), Motor Planning Disorder(now called Dyspraxia or Developmental Dyspraxia), Food Allergies, Latex Allergy
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2009, ~1999, ~1994(Kindergarten), 2010, 2010
3. But I had symptoms since: Elementary School, Elementary School, Birth, 2007, ~2004
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: having to leave the house with more than keys and an ID for the recent stuff. In terms of dyspraxia, I have had to adjust to how to make my body do anything and everything. My muscles don't respond like normal peoples, every new skill is a new adjustment process. 
5. Most people assume: I'm just out of shape or lazy.
6. The hardest part about mornings are:finding the will to get up when it feels like there is an elephant on my chest or a vice grip around my lungs or sinuses. Or I just generally feel like I've been run over by a train because I didn't get any decent sleep the night before.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. 
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:Peak flow meter, Aerochamber, and Computer pretty much 3-way tie for first place. My computer really has helped out a lot, not having to write things out long hand helps a lot since that requires a lot of effort for me to keep things neat and correct letter formations, as well as charting my peakflow's. The Aerochamber is pretty much the only way I can get meds into my lungs. Hand-breath coordination is pretty much non-existant for me.
9. The hardest part about nights are:
waking up in a full body coughing experience at 2am and then not being able to get back to bed because the inhaler makes me slightly jittery.
10. Each day I take 7 pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) Plus 1-2 inhalers 2-4 times a day.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am fairly skeptical. I feel like yoga has helped somewhat with getting me more focused on coordination and breathing otherwise I pretty well stick to traditional ideas.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: visible, people see what is going on they "get" why you aren't participating in xyz or have to do something different.
13. Regarding working and career: I'm still in school, but I other than probably using up a lot of my sick days and looking for a job with good benefits I'm hoping that I will not have trouble with a job.
14. People would be surprised to know:
I don't wheeze. Perhaps also of interest is the fact that I have learned to drive a stick shift after many trials and frustration.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:
as far as the allergies and dyspraxia I don't really know any different. Conjuestion and wonky muscle control are part of life in my world. The dyspraxia has given me a strong will which is hard to accept that sometimes I can't because of the latex allergy or the asthma. The will that dyspraxia has taught me was a challenging roadblock to coming to terms with asthma.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: run. I have however, somewhat taken up running, I'm still not very graceful or fast nor can I go very far. However, baby steps.
17. The commercials about my illness: are pretty much nonexistent other than for Advair.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:
blowing up balloons, going to bonfires.
19. It was really hard to have to give up:
cooking banana bread.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: blogging, running(both since the asthma diagnosis).
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:
go to a balloon party at one of the local fraternities where they fill their house waist deep with balloons. Drink alcohol. Rollerblade. Be spontaneous.
22. My illness has taught me:
the importance of finding the strength within you when it seems like you can't do something. Also how important it can be to have good friends who can help you through the tough times.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is:
"It's only just asthma"; "You are allergic to everything"; "You just aren't trying hard enough"; "Should you really be ________, since you have asthma?"
24. But I love it when people:
put their arm around my shoulders or pat my back (hugs are difficult when you can't breathe) or are willing to reschedule plans for something low energy like watching movies.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phillipians 4:13
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: you'll never be 'normal' again and that's okay. Find good friends and family who can be there for you in the tough times. It will be okay.
To the ones with Dyspraxia: you will find you own ways to make things happen and it will be okay. Different paths leading to the same end point aren't always bad. Patience is hard, but in the end your self determination and will power are a force to be reckoned with!
To the ones with Asthma: Learn how to control your life and your lungs. Don't accept it as a limit to what you can do, you will grow and learn to find ways to enjoy your old activities. Well unless your favorite activities are things like smoking(but in the long run it's best if you kick the habit anyway).
To the ones with Allergies: Yes, you are going to have to avoid things but sometimes that is for the best. I mean really it's probably best if you don't stand outside when the pollen is so high it's turning everybody's car green. You'll eventually find a good antihistamine and it will be better. :)
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
how awesome the online support community is. There are people out there who I have never met and most likely will never meet and yet they are super great at lifting me up when I'm having a bad day and giving me e-high-fives for the little victories.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:
tell me it was going to be okay, rub my shoulders, and send me to bed.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:
it is time to break the silence of invisibility.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:
happy that you care to learn a little bit more about the hidden part of me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Greetings from the Lime Green Zone

So just a quick update, I've been working on some posts but haven't really gotten anywhere on most of them since I've been held captive in the lime green zone. It's been a good 3-4 days stuck in the horrible purgatory between the yellow zone and the green zone. Never lower than 74% never higher than 85%.  Just crappy enough to be miserable but not crappy enough to do much of anything about. I've seen a lot of my ventolin inhaler these last few days. I gave up yesterday on waiting until I started getting tight and bit the bullet with scheduling it in every 4 hours. Which seemed to more or less do the trick. I actually slept well last night and I'm hopeful of some good sleeping as well tonight. Which should give me the energy to catch up on the blog posts and such. It's really interesting how we all seem to flare at the same time.  My flare-ishness is to be expected it's that wonderful time of the month when my hormones decide to wreak havoc and do their thing to whatever green streak I had going.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More than just a blue puffer

So, as of late I've been adding to my pile of asthma gadgets. My asthma life has become so much more stuff than just a blue puffer in the 18 or so months since I got my first blue puffer. While a blue puffer is important to gaining control of my breathing at a moments notice a number of other gadgets as well as a controller (Symbicort) help me to keep my lungs behaving reasonably well.

 My Meters and one of my Ventolin puffers

 I've acquired a digital peak flow meter which I love dearly. It is so much easier for me to remember to write down my peak flow numbers in the spreadsheet when my meter knows them when I get back to the compy. Additionally it doesn't give me randomly out of the ballpark readings. They tend to be much closer clustered than my manual peakflow meter. I still definitely have the manual around quite a bit. However, it's quite nice to not have to use it as much. The downsides to going digital are that it is a bit bulkier than a manual and it beeps when it's ready/saving data. I don't super much mind the extra bulk. If I'm packing light I just grab my TruZone. I do kind of mind the additional attention that the beeping brings to what I'm doing when I check my peakflow on the digital. I mean it's how my life goes. Your life is coexisting with my life on the same plane therefore I'm not gonna hide who I am. Yes, asthma is one small (okay sometimes not so small) part of who I am. However, I most likely have no reason to hide that from you.

My emergency kit

I have as of late tried and failed to affix an Apod to my Ventolin. Leave it to the US to have Ventolins that are not the same size as the rest of the world. Apparently the extra spaced needed to add a dose counter makes them just enough wider to not fit in an Apod. At present I'm giving up on decorating my inhalers other than with stickers since it seems as though that is not going to be a sucessful mission. I have found a hard-ish foamy pencil case that fits an epipen (latex allergy), a couple chewable benadryl,  a (blue) ventolin(puffer), my TruZone, and my Aerochamber just right. Which has been useful for carrying all my stuff with me in my backpack. It doesn't scream hey look at the sick girl with a bunch of meds.

I've pretty well worn out my aerochamber after 18 months of optimistically bi-daily use(realistically, more). It's no longer cleaning out very well. It is also looking worse for the wear on the outside. If you look carefully at the picture above you can see a line in the difference of plastic wear between the part that is covered by the silicone end and the part that isn't. I am debating between being an adult and getting a normal aerochamber, and having fun and getting an AC Boyz chamber(not really a pink person here). I have a Vortex that I use when I'm home to take my Symbicort. I really like it for that purpose. However, it is more easily dentable being made of aluminum. Additionally, not having a mouthpiece cover is not useful for the one who frequently drops it in gross places(read: bus, light rail train, random streets). The final reason why I prefer my AC for Ventolin-ing is that the whistle is really helpful in not inhaling it too quickly when I'm pulling to get a deep breathe while tight.
Medical Bracelet found it's way into my Facebook To Write Love on Her Arms Picture
At present, my Medical ID bracelet is stuck on my arm(not necessarily a bad thing). It probably also should be replaced/updated to include the fact that I carry an EpiPen. It has survived a year affixed to myself which is no small feat. Even though my asthma is so much more than 'just a blue puffer' I do still live a rough and tumble life.  It doesn't really ever leave my arm it gets spun around from being on the inside of my wrist to the outside of my wrist when I work on the computer but otherwise it doesn't really move(sometimes I know how to behave myself).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

I was on Facebook which got me thinking about the significance of today. Nine years ago today I was a 7th grader headed off to junior high school. I walked to school as usual with the neighborhood kids and my little brother(jr. high and elementary shared one building). During first hour our very passionate Social Studies teacher got interrupted by the Principal. Stepped out into the hallway for a moment and then came back to announce to the class that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. It was so surreal my brain relegated it to being her discussing a historical event.

It didn't really hit the gravity of what was going on until I got to second hour where I had Math. Then it really hit me that the planes flying into the Twin Towers were not just a historical event that was actually happening as we spoke. After we had done that day's lesson on factoring/FOIL-ing our math teacher turned on the TV and let us watch a bit while we worked on our math homework. At some point in there I just started quietly sobbing. My aunt lives in Manhattan and could have very well been in Lower Manhattan heading through the subway(under the towers) to Brooklyn has she did occasionally weekday mornings.  During Math they broke in with the breaking news about the plane at the Pentagon. I pretty well lost it at that point because I had another Aunt in the DC area.

Third hour brought an escape about halfway through. My mom picked me up from school to go get braces put on my teeth. Sitting in the orthodontists' office was a very surreal experience. Normally he had classic rock tunes playing. However, that day the only thing on the radio was news of the Twin Towers. Thankfully while I was getting my braces put on my mom got word from Grandma that both my aunts were safe. My dad also called at that point to let my mom know that he would be coming home soon-ish as they were evacuating all the tall office buildings in downtown but that they had also set up a police/national guard line so it might take a while.

I headed back to school for a day that pretty much flew by until last hour when we all went over to church to have a prayer service(I went to Christian schools PreK-12). The elementary kids had just been told that there had been an attack on America (or something vague like that). The junior high kids had been told the basics of what happened. We prayed for those who were working to defend us, treating survivors, searching for survivors, and finally those who had lost their lives. When we got out of school my mom picked us up(a rarity). We came home and watched it unfold on TV a bit and then did homework and ate dinner and got sent to bed early. Right before bed when I was changing out into my PJ's I noticed that I had started my period for the first time ever(I'll never forget the day of my first ever period that's for sure).  That was the day that the reality of war and adulthood started to become real to me. I finally 'got' politics and world policy(even though I'd been listening to NPR & BBC as well as reading the NY Times for years).

I as all those who are old enough to really remember that day will never allow those who lost their lives because of our nation's way of life to be forgotten. For as long as I live I will remember and retell the story to those who were not around or not old enough to really understand what was going on.

G-d Bless those who died that day, those brave men and women who ran INTO the burning, collapsing buildings, those who worked on the relief/recovery efforts afterward, all those who have worked and died to defend our freedom/way of life in the years since, and all those whose lives have been forever changed by the events that unfolded that fateful day. Gone but never forgotten.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

So I've kind of alluded to this in previous posts a bit, my fine motor skills and motor control kinda stink. When I was in kindergarten I was diagnosed with what at the time was called "motor planning disorder". However, from what I've read as of late the current preferred term is dyspraxia. Basically it means that my brain has a hard time communicating with my muscles as to what it wants them to do. My learning curve for muscle memory of a particular skill is significantly longer than most people. I will eventually learn how to do physical things but generally it takes me more time and effort to do so. I also often find different ways of going about an activity to achieve the same end result.

This can be incredibly frustrating because I know in my head what needs to get done and yet I can't make it happen. This disconnect seems to grow stronger when I've got the Vento-wobbles. Which is an interesting correlation. I had to do physical therapy for a year or two when I was little but beyond that the medical establishment has never really done much to deal with this issue for me. Actually come to think of it I'm not even sure if it is known to Dr. Z, since I don't know if she ever got to see my chart from the pediatrician.  For the most part at this point in life I've gone past the time at which learning new motor skills is a big thing that you/your peers do. Really the last challenging one I had was learning to drive. Well and there is my inhaler technique which is less than stellar, I just can't quite seem to get the whole breathe out/press down/ breathe in thing quite synced up correctly. Something to perhaps bring up with Dr. B next appointment. I may be someone who is destined for the land of DPI controllers, since they require less coordination. So there you have it, the reason why I still have not mastered hula hooping, rollerblading, a bunch of yoga poses,  and inhaler taking, as well as get sensory overloads.