Wednesday, March 16, 2011


For me, running is hard work.  Lots of days I don't really enjoy the actual running; I enjoy the feel good high I have after the running is done.  Occasionally that feel good high gets messed up by injuries (tendinitis, shin splints, plantar fascitis, etc.).  Although I have had my run ins with those pesky injuries I have kept running because the good still significantly outweighed the bad.
There was also this nagging thing that Beth & I called "Cold Run Lung" where we would have achy chests & a naggy cough after running in the cold air.  I've always experienced that but in the past year or so it has happened even when the air isn't cold.  It was a more frequent problem & the achy feeling became more like a tightness.  The tightness would settle in while I was running, quit when I stopped, & then come & go for several hours after I was done with my run.
I didn't like it.
So I went to the doctor.  We talked it over & she gave me an inhaler to use for what she called "Exercise Induced Asthma".  I've been using it for a couple of months & I went back in for a follow up appointment last week.
The inhaler has been helping.  The tightness in my chest rarely happens now while I run.  But sometimes later it hits me again.  We discussed what it could be - gas (given my burping propensity, this could be a definite possibility), a muscle/skeletal inflammation, bronchial spasms, or a heart condition.  She listened to my heart for quite some time & said that she thought she detected a fast beat sneaking in every little bit.  This can explain the tightness, it can also cause lightheadedness or momentary weakness.  It's generally a benign condition but requires testing to confirm the diagnosis & confirm that it is harmless.

So I made another appointment to have an echo cardiogram & to be fitted with a Holter monitor.  It looked a lot like the one in the illustration above.  Basically what it does is record a 24 hour EKG.  I kept a diary of my symptoms & activities.  They will upload the monitor's data & compare it to my diary & see what my ticker is doing.  I think it was a very interesting (although uncomfortable) process.  The echo cardiogram was a super easy test.  All I had to do was lay there & listen to the technician chatter.  She was super friendly & very kind.  She also gave me a little inside info on my test by telling me that everything looked normal.
Getting the Holter installed was a little more painful than I thought it would be.  The technician had to 'exfoliate' the areas where the contacts would be attached.  I thought I was gonna be bleeding by the time she quit.  Oy!  Then I got taped up from stem to stern.  My contacts were positioned a little differently than the illustration.  Unfortunately I didn't know that one of the contacts would be high, at the base of my neck.  It peeked out of my shirt collar all day & made me feel a little self conscious.  And there were skads of wires with tons of slack that had to be taped up on me because they couldn't just hang down without removing the contacts.  I felt trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
The monitor got put on yesterday morning.  The whole time I was at work it wasn't really any big deal.  I was supposed to go running with it on so that they could see what my heart was doing during exercise.  I also was not supposed to get sweaty because the moisture could cause the contacts to come off.  I wasn't sure how I was going to run without getting sweaty.  I knew I couldn't run at the gym because I sweat just going in the door (combo of heat & insecurity/self consciousness - please tell me I'm not the only insecure one).  I decided I would just run outside.  It was a cool day & kind of drizzly but I prayed that it wouldn't downpour & I hit the road.  Yeah, I still got sweaty.  By the time I got home I was more than a little worried.  I assessed the damage & concluded that only the extra wire had come untaped completely.  Everything else looked pretty good.  In my anxiety about the contacts falling off I had Mike put more tape over everything.  Then I really felt like I couldn't move.  This morning when it all got taken off I just about screamed.  We had put on A LOT of tape!  I still have red marks all over me.
Now I wait to hear what the results are.  My guess is that they will find that I am alarmingly normal & boring.  Until I hear any different I'll just keep puffing on my inhaler & trying to keep up with my training plan!

2 comments:

TwoMuths said...

This happened to me too, my entire life - every single time I attempted running - and I could not for the life of me figure out what it was.

Then I got off gluten.

And I can exert myself with no achy lung syndrome. Of course, it is kind of a big price to pay. I love gluten! (and I hATE running.)

But, it might be worth a try if all roads lead to no answers? I had to be off about 2 months before noticing a change in my lung function.

I hope you do get some answers!

Rebecca said...

Hope you end up boringly normal. That is good. Inhaler is enough excitement! Be sure to keep us posted.