I finally had my appointment yesterday with a highly recommended pulmonologist after a month of waiting to get in. He is a busy guy. For the days leading up to it, I was sure to get some normal solid runs in around my usual loop. And confirmed I had my normal reaction to it each day. Hacking out a lung to the point that passers by asked me if they should call someone. So I was excited to get in and see what this guy had to say. I gave him the whole lay of the land. Every symptom. Everything I have tried. All my research to date. He sat with his legs crossed listening. He asked some pointed questions about things I said. I got up on the table and went through a simple exam. Breathing, pulse ox, etc. Then we sat back down. Time for the big reveal!
"It's asthma", he said. Pretty classic symptoms. "God damn it" was going through my mind. Maybe this is a good diagnosis but I just want something that you can cure of get parts swapped out for under warranty. Asthma seems to be a "live with it and control it" type of crap. But I quickly found myself intrigued because he started telling me stories of advising Tour de France riders and such on the same sort of diagnosis. Sweet. I am no where near that level but I find some confidence in the fact that the doctor has the knowledge to advise such elites. Sound be able to help this mid-packer just fine then.
As I had sort of learned and the doctor reinforced, different strokes for different folks on asthma. What I had before wasn't really working noticeably. The inhaler I had was either not strong enough or didn't contain the right modifiers for my condition. No big deal. So he instead moved me to a powder-based inhale medicine. Twice a day for a while. Why will this be different? Please elaborate, Doc. He did.
1. This contains a steroid. I read about this in my research so I was glad to try this. It seemed to be the "next level" of treatment when regular albuterol inhalers weren't effective. Because of this ingredient, he asked if I was at a competitive level with racing because this is one of those substances you have to declare. Sweet. I will be blood doping in no time.
2. The albuterol in this powder is "stronger". It lasts more like 1/2 a day instead of an hour. That's because of the way it attaches to the molecules or some such scientific explanation. Sounded good.
That was it for the appointment. See you in a few weeks. Eh?
So I am to see how this effects my training. If its awesome, try cutting down to once a day. Log the results. Then we will have a bunch of data for the next appointment. At that one, we will be doing the full workup with breathing tests on and off a treadmill. Will get a new VO2 max score that we can compare against my 2010 score. That's the appointment I am excited about. I like numbers. So a little more waiting and experimentation before then. If the new meds didn't work at all, then we would be diving into another set of things like blood tests.
So the overall message was -- Get training! We will have you dialed in by spring. So that's good news but doesn't leave me with the confidence boost I hoped for just yet. So I will start the meds today and see where it goes. I could have results in a week that boost my confidence I suppose. But I will be surprised if its that easy for some reason.