Friday, August 28, 2009

The Beginning of the Problem

This is what I did up until my first symptoms in 1985:

May 1964--June 1982-- I grew up in Northern VA. with no history of asthma in my family.
(Although my maternal grandmother had an undiagnosed bloody cough and died prematurely due to breast cancer brought on by multiple chest x-rays in a failed attempt to diagnose.) My bedroom those 18 years was very cold and damp, but I had no breathing symptoms. In 1980 I had a very severe sinus infection after flying to LA. From then on I had periodic sinus infections that would invariably affect my lungs later. I began working out that same year; running on average 12 miles per week and working out with weights.

June 1982-March 1983--I moved to Key Largo, FL from Northern VA. I worked as an animal caretaker for dolphins, dogs and exotic birds. I was exposed to periodic sprays of anti-mosquito chemical while in the Keys. I continued to run.

March 1983-June 1983--I worked at the Ocean Reef Club for Comprehensive Yacht Services.
I cleaned yachts (interior and exterior)--I was exposed to varnishes, but primarily cleaning fluids in non-ventilated spaces. I continued to get mosquito sprayed. I was still running.

June 1983-August 1983--I worked as dancer in The Lost Colony, Outer Banks, NC. I was running and working out with weights again.

September 1983-August 1984--I worked in Miami for Kadey Krogen Yachts. I began by cleaning boat interiors, then I picked up and delivered parts for yacht commissioning. I spent much time around boat yards where bottom coating, varnishing, and other painting occurred.
I continued to run.

August 1984-May 1986--I moved to Key West, FL. First I worked outdoors selling snorkel tour tickets, then I worked indoors at a gym, while I attended FKCC and studied Marine biology. My first symptom of breathing problem was noticed after running a road race in October 1985--it felt like a sore throat was developing that turned into a cough that would later be aggravated after running. I was working out with weights, doing Taekwondo and running.

March 1986--My symptoms worsen to noticeable wheezing. I went to South Miami Hospital, where I was diagnosed with asthma and given inhalers and theophyline.

June 1986-August 1986--I traveled to CA camping across the US. I had horrible coughing at night and trouble running as soon as I got to the dry air of the Midwest and more trouble when I got to the damp, cool air of the San Francisco. I reached my lowest body weight (115), and had uncontrollable coughing especially in the morning and evening.

August 1986- May 1992--I moved to Richmond, VA and attended school at VCU, where I studied fashion and then operated a mail order clothing business. I had many hospitalizations during the cold seasons and trouble breathing around chemicals involved with a printmaking course. My peak flows would range between 100 and 400. From my initial hospitalizations, I was in respiratory failure and had to talk my way out of being intubated. Then in November 1989, I lost consciousness before I could get to the hospital and was intubated for just over 24 hours. I continued to work out and run when my peak flow allowed (I am able to run when I am 250 or better). During this period, I was prescribed about every conventional asthma medication available. I would often notice some relief for a period of time and then slowly get worse. This was even more pronounced with the sinus medications. When I would be at the tail end of a medication's useful life, I would have to use prednisone and nebulizer treatments. I would be told by my conventional doctors that I had to live with this condition, it was not curable. I do not hold that belief to be true. And I have been searching high and low for a solution to my problem.

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