Two months ago I was at work doing some work on a microscope and realized that I was not breathing properly. I was taking large gasps of air and not breathing in a normal rhythm. I started to get a little anxious about this and thought to myself what the heck is happening. I work so hard at Crossfit, train religiously, eat the best diet possible....what is my problem! I was angry with myself and being stubborn I waited it out another couple of hours. Finally I decided that I needed to go to the doctor. I arrive at the doctor and they put me in an exam room. I hate exam rooms, they smell too sterile and bad things always seem to happen in them. Sorry for the digression. A nurse collects my vitals, listens to my chest, asks me some questions about family history and medications and then leaves. I told the nurse that I was having trouble breathing and my chest was wheezing. In reality there was an audible rattle with each breath that could be heard without a stethoscope.
Next the physician's assistant visits me. Again we discuss my medical history. Drive home the point that I do not smoke and never have. I rarely drink alcohol and eat as healthy a diet as possible. The doctor was concerned that I may have fluid around my heart or that a heart condition was causing fluid to build in my lungs. I attempted to explain Crossfit to her and told her that if I had a heart condition I would definitely already know it. She listened to me and stuck my finger in pulseoximeter. This is a device that takes your pulse rate and measures the oxygen saturation of your blood. Pulse was great...in the low 60's but the oxygen saturation was not....it was only 92% and should be no less that 98%. The doctor looked at me and said "I usually send people to the hospital at 93% because they are flat out and purple...you must be either extremely tough or in incredible cardiovascular shape or both". I told her it was both and we laughed. I again tried to explain Crossfit and she told me I was crazy. She basically said that I was having some kind of severe allergic reaction that was causing inflammation in my lungs and trapping fluid in my chest. I had bilateral pneumonia due to allergic reactions.
She decided to give me a nebulizer treatment and stated "that this usually helps most people get the inflammation down". They nurse hooked me up to the machine and ran to treatment. They retested my SpO2 and it was only 94%. They decided to do it again and again they got the same result at 94%. At this point they got worried because this treatment wasn't working. They consulted me on what I wanted to do and on what my options were. I told them I was not going to the hospital and to do whatever they thought was the next best option. The nurse came in and placed and IV catheter. They pulled 20 cc of blood for allergy testing and gave me an injection of solu-medrol which is a strong injectable steroid. They gave me prescriptions for an inhaler, oral antibiotics, and oral prednisone. I was very nervous and still was not feeling much better. SpO2 came up to 96% and they sent me on the way.
After a 5 day rest from Crossfit I got back into the gym and was pulling the best splits of my life on the row. I guess being able to breath and bring in the right amount of oxygen is important. The results of my allergy test were back. Turns out I have a few allergies. Allergic to egg whites, almonds, peanuts, kiwi, hazelnut, some trees and grasses, latex, and a mild allergen to wheat. I was eating egg whites, almonds, almond butter, and kiwi's everyday. I was causing massive amounts of inflammation due to ingesting these foods all the time. I started to immediately eliminate them from my diet and had to readjust my nutrition. You would think this would have helped but 3 weeks later I was back to where I started.
I was back at wheezing and struggling to breath. I was sent to a respiratory specialist with Duke Medical and told that I have horrific post nasal drip and that this is all due to allergies. They tested me for asthma on a huge respiration machine and there is no evidence of asthma...I actually have an above normal lung capacity (due to my Crossfit training). I was given a prescription nasal spray and told to take something like claritin or zyrtek. I agreed to this and I was off taking pills and squirting stuff up my nose. I hated this...I hate taking medications. This leads us to where I am right now. I have been doing this for a month and still have no improvement.
Can you imagine not being able to breath during your WOD's? How about every time you take a breath you feel like you are choking because there is so much mucous in your respiratory tract you can 't get it out and you can't get air in. Well that's what I feel like all the time. I push through the WOD's no matter what but I am so angry and frustrated right now I am on my last straw. All I want to do is breath and oxygenate my blood and I can't. I am planning on seeing the doctor here in Chicago when I can get an appointment.
Sometimes all you can do is have faith in yourself and to know that challenges can come in many forms. A physical barrier, a psychological barrier, or an injury. I think that most athletes have a universal reaction to an injury..."I am just going to push through this and it will get better on it's own". Injuries can't always be made better by more training. They require appropriate treatment and rest. Resting for a bit may seem scary but it must be done. If you keep pushing the injury it will snowball into something major that may possibly put you out for a long time or end your career. What is the worse a week or two of rest or never being able to Crossfit again?
Give your injuries time, train around them, and gradually work back into what you were doing. Try to focus on how your injury occurred. Were you not hitting full range of motion, lifting too heavy of a load with poor technique, or over training? By giving yourself a rest and refocusing your thinking you may be able to prevent any further injuries. Injuries are hard to deal with and crush your confidence and training. What can you do?
Realize they happen and that's that! Get the right treatments, see the right doctors, and train the weakness that lead to your injury. Improve other aspects of your training like nutrition. Proper nutrition may help prevent any other injuries from occurring. Don't give up, use the frustration and anger to fuel your recovery and become a smarter, stronger Crossfitter.
"Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain."
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