The Quest for Breath


You could almost make an entirely separate blog to chronicle the issues and idiocies that I endured trying to find out why I couldn’t breathe normally last summer. The lung fail was intermittent, never seemed to happen when I actually was at the doctors’, and, apparently, was considered to just be “weird.” My first visits weren’t very useful, and with work and training taking up so much time… I kinda got lazy about following up with the docs. After the OLH failure though, I got serious about finding out what the hell was going on with my chest, called the Kaiser urgent care line and gave the dude on the phone the rundown:

Randomly occurring chest tightness that kept me from being able to get “over the top” when trying to pull in a deep breath. Food, allergens, stress, work and exercise do not seem to have a direct correlation. Occurs at any time of the day without warning.

This description quickly spawned a battery of increasingly ridiculous (and ultimately useless) tests with freakishly normal results.

  • Assigned on a whim inhalers: Worthless. Given as a result of basically no testing, and, other than fueling one fairly awesome climb, had no impact on anything (other than a weird feeling on my teeth).
  • Chest xray: clear. No pneumonia or other terribleness.
  • Skin-stab allergy test: I am allergic to nothing.
  • Sub-cutaneous (stick shit UNDER your skin) allergy test: I am still allergic to nothing. Except histamine. But everyone’s allergic to that.
  • Pulmonary function test: I have “a really gorgeous set of lungs.” Yep. Someone actually said that to me, and it was exactly as creepy as it sounds. Lung tech may or may not have asked me to do extra breaths just so he could see results in the 90th-plus percentile again. Must be sad to only ever test old people.
  • Weird stretching exercises to expand my chest muscles: good for me (as I’m terribly inflexy), but offered no measurable result for breathing.

In the end, the doctors never figured anything out, and my issues eventually (weeks later) subsided. Personally, I think I strained my chest wall in a core class and noticed tightness issues whenever I really thought about taking in a deep breath.  My mom swears I was having panic attacks (a theory on which I still call bullshit! Other than the one day with ashes, I never even came close to hyperventilating!). I can say, for sure, that the breathing problems made most of last summer season’s rides challenging. Some were better than others, but none were great — which was a really tough pill to swallow in my first season as team support. I muddled through the best I could though, “taking one for the team” to hang back with anyone having a bad day — and did successfully complete most rides.

Speaking of, is anyone else ready to get back to the ride posts? Me too. On it!

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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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