Sunday, October 26, 2014

Breathing Deeper

 Laughter is always the best medicine so here’s a joke (for some reason kid’s jokes crack me up and I actually own a few joke books that the kids I worked with at the Boys and Girls Club really enjoyed): What did the pumpkin need for its boo-boo?
Answer is at the end of this post.

In June I got the blood tests I’ve been wanting for a few years. My iron, ferritin, and hemoglobin finally looked good!  I was thrilled. Just in time for spending summer high up in the mountains. I felt an improvement in my energy and I thought I was good to go.

However, after a few weeks, I noticed I still wasn’t breathing very well. For years doctors had been telling me my breathing didn’t sound as good as they thought it should, but that’s all they ever said so I didn’t think much of it. I knew low iron could cause shortness of breath and just figured that was my problem.  When my iron went up, but my breathing didn’t get better I was disappointed. In fact, this past year I noticed things getting worse and I constantly felt “pressure” inside my chest. When running or simply just sitting, my chest didn’t feel right. It became hard to truly run “easy” and there may have been a few times where I shed some tears because I was having trouble running uphill. I started to avoid doing some group runs with really great people because I worried I could no longer keep up.  I love going on adventures with Sage, but even that gave me anxiety because I felt like I was really slowing him down. This had been going on for months, but I kept telling myself it would go away or it was just in my head, which is silly because I could feel it (I just didn’t know if it was asthma because I don’t get typical asthma attacks or wheeze). Well, it didn’t go away and it wasn’t in my head.

I finally went to my doctor and after doing a quick test that made it obvious I wasn’t breathing very well, she wrote me a prescription for albuterol (the standard emergency inhaler which I was to use before running). I tried it for a few weeks, but it didn’t work. It was on to the pulmonologist. There I found out my oxygen levels were low when exercising (not a good thing at all since cells need oxygen to function properly but at least my doctor was great and she ran up and down the stairs with me), I wasn’t breathing in or out very well, and the albuterol really wasn’t helping me.  As a result, I’m now using a stronger inhaler I’m really not a fan of. I’m in the processes of trying to be excited that I might be able to breathe normal some time soon (it has yet to make a difference but it doesn’t always work right away), but am really struggling with the fact that I’m inhaling a lot of toxic chemicals that are really not good for me and can have some negative side affects.  I realize a lot of other runners suffer from asthma and are on medications, but the idea of needing to take meds my whole life to treat asthma is personally really unsettling to me (though I totally respect other people’s views on this).

I’ve tried a few natural medicines already and haven’t had much luck. I also did a little research on food and asthma and found out that I already don’t eat anything I shouldn’t be eating and am eating everything I should be eating. I’ve been eating and drinking a lot of inflammatory foods as well, but I’m going to give daily ginger shots a try since I read it worked well for other people with asthma. I juiced my first ginger shot (half an apple, big piece of ginger, and a little turmeric- should be great for any inflammation in the body) today and holy cow, it really is like a shot! Got a nice warming sensation in my throat and chest and then needed to chase it down with water. If anyone has tried any other natural remedies that work PLEASE, PLEASE let me know. Thank you!

To make this post a little more interesting and thought provoking, I was actually told over a year ago that there was something wrong with my chest and throat area. She wasn’t a doctor and the only words I spoke to this person before hand was “hi” and “it’s nice to meet you” before I sat down in a chair. I was at a free healing clinic as I was experimenting with healing depression naturally. I’m also just curios person and wanted to see what it was like. The healer never touched me, but moved her hands all around me. At the end she told me I had a lot going on in my chest and throat. Coincidence or not, it really doesn't matter. At that moment, she was right and I didn't listen.

Honestly, I feel like I’m mostly writing this post for myself. Sorry!!! I just want to be running healthy and strong and it’s a little frustrating when I feel like I couldn’t be leading a much healthier lifestyle. I’m ready to be healthy though- mentally and physically. I’m so incredibly grateful for all the places my body has taken me and that I even managed a few good races, but I know I’m not running as well as I should be. Part of me has started considering that being physically healthy on the outside isn’t just achieved by doing physically healthy things. My mind and my heart need to be healthy too. I’m getting close, but I know I still have some work to do. It’s a 100 miler and I’m over 75 miles in. It’s hard, but as long as I keep taking one step at a time I’ll get there.

Thankful my body and lungs still got me to Pear Lake yesterday!
It is important to me that this blog post serves someone else, so I want to share with you two questions that Dr. Lisa Ranking, author of Mind over Medicine, asks all of her patients:

If your body/ health condition had a message for you, what is it and what is it trying to teach you?

What does your body need in order to heal?

Dr. Lisa’s patients who can honestly answer these questions and then act upon them have seen some pretty incredible results. I think it’s at least worth trying. I’m at least going to give it a shot.

Much love,


Answer: A pumpkin patch!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Bit of Magic

            It’s interesting on how my personal views about my parents have changed as I have grown up. As a kid, I just saw them in their roles of playing my mom or dad. Rarely did I think about the many other roles they played- husband, wife, sibling, friend, employee, daughter, son, dancer, family mechanic, etc. Now, I can see them more clearly as a whole. I can appreciate their own struggles and their own personal lives that made them who they are today, for better or for worse.

            Growing up, my dad took Rachel and I to all of the really big action and adventure films- Star Wars, Spiderman, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter- you name it.  The movies were always filled with all kinds of heroes with super powers ranging from being able to climb up buildings to making fire with just a flick of a wand.

            All of the heroes had some type of power, but now, when I take a full look at my dad’s life (that I know about), I realize a hero doesn’t need any super powers. A hero can simply just be someone who’s kind, helps others when they need it, and just keeps on moving forward.

            Honestly, if I was given the obstacles my dad has been given; I don’t think I could handle it nearly as well. To give you an idea of what he has overcome, my dad has had a job since he was a little kid, often waking up early to deliver papers. He’s been an engineer at the same place since he graduated from college, waking up at 4:30am for 40 years, and should have been able to retire by now. Unfortunately, the original company went bankrupt, and when a new company took over he had to start building up those years to retirement all over again. My dad was younger than I am when his dad passed away, which left him to help raise some of his youngest siblings. His youngest brother, who was the beloved prankster and friend, died of leukemia in his early 30s. I remember my dad telling me at my uncle’s funeral that he felt like he lost part of his heart. My dad still managed to make my sisters and I laugh that day by telling us stories of my uncle’s jokes. When my parents’ were going through a really crappy divorce, he almost died (he was actually dead for a few seconds). He had to go through quadruple bypass surgery. He was in bed for months, being taken care of by my grandma. His health never came completely back, and he developed diabetes leaving my sisters and I always a little worried about him. It didn’t help when he gave us all a scare last summer when he almost had to have his chest torn open again. 

            I wouldn’t blame anyone being dealt those cards for feeling like life is a little unfair. My dad, however, is a super-hero, and super-heroes set good examples for others. My dad’s powers range from being the family’s car expert to magically getting the hard to find Christmas toys that every kid wants.  He’s helped a lot of people while using his powers, never asking for anything in return.

"We've all got light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." -Sirius Black from HP

            One of my favorite things about my dad, however, is a lesson he’s been teaching me since I was a kid. Ironically, that lesson is on how to always be a kid at heart. (He’s also been teaching me about cars since I was a kid, but he wasn’t as successful as making those lessons stick.) It’s an art I haven’t quite mastered just yet, but I plan on practicing it until I get it down. It helps that my dad also has the power of magically spreading his enthusiasm onto others.

            A couple months ago I was talking to my dad on the phone and he said that he wanted to go to Harry Potter World for his birthday.  Having stayed up way too late reading the Harry Potter books plenty of times, I immediately said I’d join.  A few weeks later my dad, Rachel, and I were excitedly boarding the Hogwarts Express to start our day off by having breakfast at the Three Broomsticks.
One very big cauldron at the Three Broomsticks.

            We did EVERYTHING! My older sister had told Rachel and I that my dad would have a hard time walking, but a little bit of magic must have happened because for 3 days we’d leave our hotel room around 7am and wouldn’t get back until it was bedtime. We explored Hogsmead, flew through Hogwarts (my dad and I didn’t feel really great after that), got a REAL magic wand to cast spells all around the park, went through walls, saw some of the dark arts in Diagon Alley, witnessed a dragon breathing real fire, escaped Gringots Bank, drank some butter beer, and more. This only touches the surface of what we did since we also did everything we could throughout all of Universal Studios which included turning into minions, though we unfortunately turned back into people. My dad totally wore me out! I was going to run UROC in a couple of days, but I didn’t care. I was having a great adventure with my dad and Rachel.

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good"- HP
This picture shows exactly how we all felt flying through Hogwarts. I think I'd prefer a Nimbus 2000.
            At one point, Rachel and I snuck away to get a few more birthday presents for my dad. We stood in Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes debating if we should get him an extendable ear, a bomb, skiving snack boxes, and more for an unnecessarily long time. We finally ended up playing eenie, meenie, miney, mo.  The following day we realized that we had thought way too hard as my dad bought all the other toys we thought about and more. My cousin’s son fondly calls him the Toy Man for a reason. I smiled as my dad happily waited in line to buy his toys while I snuck out of the store to do a few more spells with my wand.
Weasley's Wizards Wheezes
Rachel made it rain with her wand. At least she provided an umbrella.
            My dad used his magic to give Rachel and I not only memories of an incredible adventure, but the gift of knowing that growing up doesn’t mean giving up our childish fun and enthusiasm. Growing up really means that we should be able to better spread our enthusiasm and joy, and that laughter and embracing our inner child can spread joy on good days as well as bad days.

My dad and I at Hogsmead.
As professor Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light”.

Much love,