I thought I was an OK runner. I trained hard over the course of 2018 and aimed to get under 1:40 at the Great North Run. I ran 1:31, and then a few weeks later went 1:27 at Birmingham's Great Run.
Since that purple patch, running has gotten harder and harder because my asthma has become harder to control.
While I've had a blue "rescue" inhaler to hand since I was a child, I've quickly progressed through the various steroids over the past two years:
- Beclometasone 400mg (Clenil Modulite, brown)
- Fluticasone (Flutiform, white)
- Beclometasone 100 micro-grams (Fostair 100, pink)
- Beclometasone 200 micro-grams (Fostair 200, pink)
I've been on the Fostair 200 for over a year now, in conjunction with another corticosteroid called Ciclesonide.
Now because my blood tests show high levels of eosinophils the assumption is that I'm allergic to something, so I pair those with the following tablets to try and tamp down those naughty cells in my body which are flaring up and causing constriction:
- 1x montelukast 10mg
- 2x theophylline 200mg (Uniphyllin)
In addition, I've also had a spell on Spiriva Respimat – often given to COPD patients - which delivers 3 micrograms of tiotropium bromide monohydrate. I tend to be the youngest in the clinic waiting room when I visit the consultant. From this NHS worksheet, I'm at the "Seek specialist advice" stage of progression.
I don't particularly wish to be taking steroids for any longer than necessary. Because of this constant barrage of steroids, I suffer from oral thrush (yum yum), and my voice has changed in tone. I get frequent upper-respiratory infections, and each morning I get to hock up my lungs like a 20-a-day smoker. I've had several doses of an oral steroid and antibiotics, but was one course shy of being invited to another clinic to take an injected medicine.
What really gets my goat is how it affects my ability to exercise: I can be working and breathing hard, but as soon as an interval ends and my body relaxes – BANG: here comes the constriction. Classic exercise-induced bronchitis symptoms.
While I know I this is still a case of extreme privilege, I would love to discover a route out because a lot of my self-worth was tied up in running.