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!


  1. I am sending positive energy and wishes for your well being.
    I started reading your posts related to healing depression naturally and I loved them.
    I too have breathing problems and I am a runner too, but I think mine are from anxiety origins. I have already started doing yoga and meditation and I think I have some improvements

    Thank you and stay strong,

  2. Hey Sandi, sorry to hear of your breathing issues. Keep your head up. I was first drawn to your blog because I too run and have dealt with depression for close to twenty years. I am learning to run now and have been able to use my new found love for running to help me with my depression. I wanted to congratulate you on everything you have and are accomplishing in life. You go girl! And if you have to use an inhaler to keep running strong... do it, you are blessed. Chow!

  3. Keep experimenting, Sandi. My personal kryptonite is wheat gluten when paired with certain yeasts found in pizza, pasta and bagels. It gives me muscle and joint aches with swollen lymph nodes (puffy under my chin) and fatigue for about 3 days. Fortunately beer (even wheat beer) and arabic flat breads are ok!

    If your labs look ok, you might find something dietary that's best to avoid or maybe certain foods or a probiotic you might need more of. Finding it can take some time. I'm at my best when I drink lots of iced tea (assam, earl grey, or green mixed with boiled ginger --no sweetener) and have a diet of mostly kale-based salads with anything I want on them (no dressing, but why would I want to cover tasty, fresh vegetables?!) and when I also regularly eat very spicy Indian food.

    Do you have any running power foods? Mine are roma tomatoes and lamb biryani the night before a long run. That's not for everyone, but I'm glad to know what works for me.

    Please keep blogging, filming and posting your advice and adventures! Run Happy!


  4. Hi Sandi, Maybe not your solution, but I went Paleo and I feel 100% better. My big change was to cut out all processed foods (including so called healthy energy bars) and removing bread and sugar from my food groups. I also cook with herbs which I didn't used to do.


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