This past Sunday Jarrod and I decided to go for a hike after church. On the retreat we had heard about forest bathing and been encouraged to spend time in nature, as well as to stay active. We figured this hit both pool balls with one stroke.
It was a delightful, if exhausting, hike. We only walked 3.5 miles but there were dips and hills and by the time we returned to our car we had completely consumed our entire paw print water pouch. However, also by that time, my chest felt tight and I couldn’t get a full breath out. I made sure to shower when we got home and used some Vicks before bed. I don’t like to use to my asthma inhaler in the evenings because it’s a stimulant and I rather enjoy sleeping. Because of that, I hoped the removal of the pollen and the Vicks would be enough.
It wasn’t. I spent Monday convincing myself not to freak out because I could not get a deep breath and my lungs hurt. Intellectually I knew it was likely just my asthma reacting to the activity in the woods, but my imagination kept insisting that my tumors had somehow ballooned up overnight and were keeping my lungs from pulling in enough air. My imagination is not always logical.
Tuesday I was still feeling like my lungs were in a vise, so I made an appointment with my primary care doctor for that afternoon. See, pre-cancer, this sort of thing would happen and I would wait at least a week, if not several weeks, before going into the doctor’s office. At that point, he would express shock that I had been functioning with so little airflow and beg me to come in earlier next time I found myself needing my inhaler so often and feeling so poorly.
Sure enough, after listening to my lungs my doctor said it was definitely my asthma and asked if I felt up to using a nebulizer at the office. I don’t have one at home because it leaves me feeling jittery, twitchy, and full of eeps — while also wanting to DO ALL THE THINGS!!!! However, as I told my doc, I was more than willing to put up with some extra twitching and shaking if it meant that I could breathe.
Using the machine was boring and caused some coughing, which is normal based on what I’ve been told and the few times I’ve used it before. However, even with feeling light headed and shaky from it, my lungs felt so much better. If you’ve ever had a super tightly-tied bodice on and it’s suddenly released, that was kind of how my lungs felt afterward.
I have an additional prescription that I’m to use for the next two weeks until ragweed season passes by. My lungs still got a bit tight when I walked 1/3 of a mile outside today so hiking is on hold for a few weeks. However, there was something reassuring about it just being asthma. It’s so easy to blame everything bad about my body on cancer. It was rather nice having this just be something normal and relatively easy to fix. I don’t get a lot of that these days.