Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Road back to health

I have struggled with chronic asthma or COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) for most of my life. I was only able to take part in a limited number of sports at school but managed to do well in tennis, cricket and squash. I played league tennis and squash through my 20’s, and 30’s. This league activity came to an abrupt halt when we started a family – possibly not the best decision because my lung doctor in Joburg, Dr Greenblatt urged me never to give up squash. Osteo arthritis in my lower back is also an inhibiter but I can still play.

During my 40’s I experienced many chest infections and I saw my pulmonary specialist annually and ensure I am on the best medicine.

I contracted a health coach (nutritionist) Tania Kapp in July 2010 (I was 48). She got me on a good diet and an exercise regime of swimming, circuits, cycling and treadmill/jogging. I ran 5km regularly and I swam 40 lengths 3 x a week. I lost about 7kg and became lean and mean. This led to me doing the Midmar mile in 2011 in 56 minutes (just scraped a medal).This was an event I watched my mates do when they were 14-17 years old – I sat on the sidelines due to the asthma.

After the Midmar I relapsed into old habits and two years ago I had glandular fever and pneumonia. That was the start of the slippery slope. In 2013 I had a chest complaint on an ongoing basis and had anti-biotics monthly. In Feb this year I said enough is enough. I saw the specialist (Dr Peter Chapman), a generalist physician and then finally Dr Goldberg, an integrated medical practitioner. At the same time I re-contracted with Tania my health coach (should never have left her). Tania has got me back on the regimes and I have lost 4kg (on 76kg) and Dr Goldberg gave me IV ozone, IV vitamin C and counselling sessions.

I am back in the gym now and I have a mindset shift. A cough or some congestion does not mean no activity. It could mean a walk or a light gym workout. I am slowly regaining my immune strength and my confidence in the gym. In the past I would not train in those conditions. Tania suggested that if my resting heart rate is normal and my temperature is normal I can train.

My shift also involves a really disciplined approach to managing my asthma including:
-          Inhaling steam including a drop of Olbas two to three times a day.
-          Blowing into a water bottle to exercise my lungs two to three times a day.
-          Gargling with salt water twice a day to take away any wheeze
-          Sniffing saline solution twice a day.
-          Exercising every other day
-          Sleep of at least 7 hours per day
-          Ensuring I sleep with dust covers wherever I am
-          Avoiding cats and dogs
-          Managing my stress
-          Following my diet

If you would like to engage on any of these issues please e-mail me on