“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, screaming, ‘WOO HOO what a ride!!'” Hunter S. Thompson
I often don’t have the right words to describe what I’m thinking, but this quote is one of many that does it for me. Despite the drive and love of adventure that is inherently me, I have had a life-long obstacle, constantly suppressing me from living that out. Asthma is my Kryptonite.
I had to really think about where the beginning point of this story is. Is it when I decided to tackle a full Ironman and what went into that decision? Or is it more about what that journey represents and if that is the case, where in the world do you begin to talk about THAT? I’ve decided it’s a lot of both.
To really appreciate that amazing Ironman day and all of its celebrations; to understand the deep significance, lessons learned and personal triumph, you have to understand the events leading up to it.
“I was 19 the first time my lung collapsed. I had just been admitted to the hospital and was in my room trying to focus on breathing. That’s all you can really think about in the midst of an asthma episode. One last coughing attack and my breath was gone. It’s difficult to explain how asthma feels, let alone a lung collapse as a result of a particularly severe episode. Imagine being at the bottom of a lake and swimming toward the top for air, but the distance is longer than you thought. Finally you surface and gasp for a breath, only to be shoved back down over and over again, and you don’t know when it’s going to stop. It can last for days or even weeks. I remember lying there thinking I was about to meet Jesus in person, hearing “code blue” being announced over the paging system and knowing it was for me.
Apparently God had other plans; I’m still here. I have work to do and there are adventures to be had. Much of my life has been a struggle to breathe, and I’m not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, EVERY DAY in the US:
- * 40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma
- * 30,000 people have an asthma attack
- * 5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma
- * 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma
- * 11 people die from asthma
Breathing should not be a commodity. But for me and for so many others, it was, it has been, it is. Asthma is one of many illnesses that are unseen to others. We may look fine on the outside, but we’re suffering and our illness places severe limitations on our lives. During one of many stints in the hospital, I remember asking myself, “If my body could… what would I do?” At the top of that long list: A triathlon. Swimming. Biking. Running. Living. Breathing. Completely inhaler dependent for, at that point in time, my entire life, it seemed so far out of reach.”
More on asthma later, and as one person put it, my relationship with it. That may prove to be a fun discussion. Coming soon, the decision to take on the Ironman distance and what it’s like to be a rookie in training. For now, the too-long-of-a-blog-post police are glaring at me, so you’ll have to come back. Work awaits! (Ooooooh, my first cliff-hanger)