Friday, 9 January 2009

No. 1 Goal: Health

One thing about being ill for the past few weeks, it's made me appreciate the blessings of relatively good health. Just not to hurt in a debilitating way is a joy that I will not overlook for a while. I'm not quite there, but my humour has returned at least. There has to be a comedy sketch involving the positions one assumes when a cough is coming and one wants to protect sore places from the shock. I could see it as a cold remedy advert. I didn't think it was funny last Friday, though, when I sneezed and something in my back seemed to snap and spasm; being sleep deprived didn't amuse me much either. I'm getting better now, thankfully. A good night's sleep is a glorious thing!

I've lived with the diagnosis of asthma for probably about 10 years now, though I didn't really accept that I had a chronic illness for quite a while. I've thought of it as more a nuisance than an illness, as I've never had the scary attacks one hears about children having where their chest tightens and they can't breathe; those sort of attacks can actually be fatal. I just have an annoying chronic cough and the occasional bad coughing spell. I have in the past considered that these aren't as serious as they might be because of my aerobic fitness, i.e., being able to do without air for a bit longer than I might be able to otherwise, until I get myself sorted out. Lately, though, I've let my aerobic fitness slide as well, running only occasionally and of course this doesn't work well at all.

Colds are bad news for me. I remember back in 2005 when we were training for the Rotterdam marathon and I caught a cold about a month before the race. I was pretty much over the cold by the day, but my asthma had not settled and I wasn't able to face the last 6 miles. I was really disappointed at quitting, but I didn't feel my body could cope with running and coughing any longer. Around that time I shared an office with 2 other people and I remember worrying that my constant coughing would disturb them. After one particularly bad spell, I saw Steve looking at me with concern. I told him, "In my next life, I'm going to have better lungs."

Trying to boost my immune system to avoid colds as much as possible has been the impetus behind our very high consumption of vegetables and fruit, along with frequent hand washing and sporadic purchases of fizzy vitamin C tablets and other alphabet-named pills. The problem is, I don't really like swallowing pills and so the vitamins probably lose most of their efficacy by the time I get around to taking them!

I confess to not being a conscientiously compliant patient (I hate that noun) either. I regularly take my asthma tablets but have been erratic with the inhaler. It always seemed to me that the inhaler only stirred things up, but this cold with the sore muscles and back problem has shown me how the inhaler really does help. I have resolved to be more religious in its routine use. I am rarely around any cigarette smoke these days, but I am considering replacing my gas stove top with an electric one. Exercise, particularly in the cold, tends to make me cough at the start, but once my lungs are settled, they seem to function at their very best in the second part of a run.

I posted sometime back about having the goal of running 4 times a week; boy, was that a disaster! It went fine for a few weeks until I measured the course I was using. I was so disappointed at how short it was considering how long it took me to do it that I gave it up altogether, in spite of Bill's encouragement and pointing out how hilly it was. I see now that it was a mistake to make any judgment about my performance. It is pointless to compare what I can do now with what I could 5 years ago. I have made several stops and starts at running throughout the past year, but I'm clearly starting over again now.

Being aerobically fit and maintaining a healthy weight is quite a lot of trouble; most people I know outside the running club just don't bother. However, having enjoyed being really fit for a number of years -- I would say between about 24 and 49, when I did aerobics classes and/or gym work and/or ran regularly -- I'm not content to settle for less. I have settled of late, but I've definitely not been content!

So, my Number One Goal for 2009 is to regain my health:
  • to keep my asthma symptoms as minimal as possible by using the medication as instructed and avoiding what triggers I can;
  • to exercise regularly and to eat well with the aim of getting my weight closer to the middle of the health range instead of at the very top.

1 comment:

Rick Stone said...

Strange how we feel about not being able to do things we did when we were younger. My dad, at age 89, gets frustrated at not being able to do things he used to do. We have to remind him that he is not 65 anymore. ;->