Thursday, May 31, 2012

Because I want to get old.

People who truly have jumped on the "healthy bandwagon" usually have reasons why they did.  I'm not talking the fad dieters who choose to drop a few lbs this month, or join a workout group for a month and quit after.  I mean the people who had their eyes opened right up and slapped in the face with "you NEED to get better for YOU".

Here's my reason.  I don't like divulging this as a conversation starter, I don't want to be pitied.  In fact, most people would never know or guess that I have a disease.  I don't tell this story for pity and I refuse to let it define me.  But it is a part of me, and a major factor in my health changes no matter how big or small they are and will be.

Let me back up to when dieting was not even a microscopial thread of a fragmented thought in my wee little head.  I was six weeks old.  I got pneumonia.  I was in the NICU for 6-7 days.  My mom claims they shaved my head and that's why I was bald for so long...I'm still not sure of that.  I think there was a bubble gum mishap on her part and she had to do damage control.  Anywhoo, I got sick at least once a year, sometimes more.  I had 7 sets of tubes in my ears in 6 years.  I was so used to ear infections I still am not sure I know what pain from one actually feels like.  I usually fell to my deathbed demise around Thanksgiving for my annual sick.  Doctors would always say it was either Bronchitis or Pneumonia due to the weather changes, treat me and send me on my way.

Fast forward to one day when I was 17 after going in for a chest x-ray for said bronchitis.  I had a lovely Doctor who had cared for me not too long, but was curious enough to find something no other doctor had.  He paired my past x-rays with my current one and noticed they were the exact same.  There was no way it was JUST bronchitis.  One lung was 70% full of "junk" and the other was about 20% full.  And it looked the same every time.  My hippie doctor looked at my x-rays and said "If I wasn't sitting here looking at you, I'd think you were a pack a day smoker!"  Cue a long list of tests, lung specialists, a very vivid Bronchoscopy though they claimed I wouldn't feel it (it was quite funny pre-op to try to talk when they had numbed my esophagus and against the doctors orders and my mom's lectures, I still did it just to say I tried talking.  You can imagine her rolling her eyes and saying "BRI! STOP TALKING!") and  a mistaken cystic fibrosis test, which I KNEW in my heart was wrong,  (it was negative when I was little) my stubborn 17 year old self comforted and told my mom "its not positive, it's wrong".

Finally, it was determined I had Bronchiectasis.   I didn't know what it was, I never had heard of it and most people don't know about it.   The easiest way to explain is I am practically only living on one lung, the other is mostly clogged up and it won't go away.  A dear sweet friend in High School couldn't pronounce it so she always asked how my "dinosaur" was (Brontosaurus).   I was told that I needed to do twice daily breathing treatments of Albuterol and saline.  I should probably get flu AND pneumonia shots yearly.  And "massages" to basically make me cough up the junk in my chest.  It was less massage, more annoying.  I have to note that I was a band geek and having been in band since the 6th grade had helped it from getting worse, and possibly masked it for so long.  With that said, my band class was upstairs and when I started the breathing treatments they made me so sick and jittery that by the time I had to head up and back down stairs to practice marching, I was terrified I would fall down the stairs.  The other downfall was when I did the treatment at night, I was up for three hours after and lost a lot of sleep.  Against my parents' begging I said NO.MORE.  I refused doing the treatments unless I felt I needed them.  Those that know me, know I am one stubborn person and when I set my mind to something, nothing will change it.

Fast forward to 2003, after I got married and we bought a house.  The first thing I did in there was rip out the carpet and refinish the wood floor.  I mean literally, I got the keys and did not wait on Goose.  I walked in, called my dad to come on over (or maybe he was with me, I don't remember), pulled out my utility knife and ripped out the carpet and threw it in the yard and removed about 76 lbs of dust, dander, debris and who knows what else...dead body skin, probably.  From that point on, I noticed a drastic difference in my health by omitting carpet alone.  It was also about that time that I started walking again partly because we only had one vehicle and my job was barely a 5 minute walk away and mostly because I was tired of feeling fat.  I shed my weight pretty quick and noticed how much better I felt.

Fast forward again to some time around 2008 when I realized of all the things I have searched on the Internet, my disease wasn't one of them.  I did.  What I found as far as preventative measures were astonishing and enough to get rid of the weight I had put back on.  One of the things I realized was that people that were not in the healthy BMI range were more susceptible to have conditions worsen.  I mean, its clear with any illness that obesity maximizes the illness.  However, I wasn't obese but I wasn't in the healthy BMI range.  I also had a little "aha!" moment when I read that the more cardio you include into your routine, the lesser the effects of this disease.  I also thought, "I bet people with this, say 'oh I will never be able to run because you know, lung disease' so I'm going to run to prove them otherwise!"

Now, I can't reverse it or cure this dinosaur in my chest, but I can prevent it from getting worse with these proactive measures.  And would you believe it?  I did.  And would you believe it, I haven't taken a breathing treatment save for a handful of times since 2003.  I haven't been truly sick since then.  Sure I have the aches in my chest and sinus issues when the weather has a big change/rain but that's pretty normal and doesn't call for a breathing treatment.  I've not gotten a flu or pneumonia shot in years.  I really believe removing the carpet allergens had 40% to do with it, and I now refuse to live in a house with carpet for that reason.  Not because I am spoiled and want hardwoods or tile, because I don't like being sick.  Add in the cardio from walking, running, jogging, and various workout videos getting my heart rate up causing me to breathe for REAL, and I found the key for me to keep this silly disease at bay.  I may have to stop and cough when my heart rate gets up, but I know its doing me good and I keep going.  So I workout, I keep active, I eat I can get old.


  1. Sounds like you have a disease, but it doesn't have you! You go girl.

  2. LOVE it! I have an almost similar blog post. It's still in my head, though... ;) So proud of you!