I wrote recently about my exercise-induced arse-ma; which put the kibosh on my prospects with the loneliness of the long-distance runner. It struck a nerve with my correspondent [recent] G who wrote about her own lack of wind so eloquently that I'm posting it here (with her permission):
Exercise-induced asthma - the bane of my life and only recently diagnosed by an occupational therapist of all people. When I was 15 and gasping for air after a couple of minutes on the trampoline double and triple somersaulting, my PE teacher used to make cracks about me giving up the cigarettes (a few years before I took them up). This made a huge impression on me in terms of unfairness and amazingly one of these incidents was memorialised in a poem by a schoolfriend forty years later.
When playing hockey, if a game was very defensive and as a left back I had to be on the move continuously then I'd see things like the far corner of the hockey pitch lift up and roll itself towards me. Charles Bonnet Syndrome [prev] or purely oxygen deprivation? When I told the PE teacher, she suggested for the first time that I give up smoking - at 12, in a convent - FFS! She had to be on drugs to think that! 100 yards sprint was no bother to me, the fastest in the school, till I'd finished it... but the three rounds of the hockey pitch after dinner every day, that the couchiest potatoes in school found easy, never happened for me. I could never finish one round... a long and short side and I'd hit my wall with no running through it. Courtney Dauwalter is a better woman than me.
Five years ago, before the chance discussion with the OT, I was determined to take a crack at running in the dark instead of standing on sidelines and started running, using a Couch to 5K app. By the time I'd repeated six weeks of Week 1 without any visible difference in my fitness, I muttered curses and let the weather get the better of me and ceased my running endeavours. It has been a constant wonderment to me how one of my friends can get out there and do 5K cold from the couch without wanting to die during or after it.
How did a woman fresh out of a four year PE teacher training course in Thomond College which presumably contained both sports physiology and psychology modules fail to see that the most active sporty girl in the entire school wasn't a smoker but had a real health problem? She never put together that, while I excelled at all sports, that basketball, netball, tennis: any sport requiring stamina were washouts for me after very promising oxygen-loaded starts.
What could have been! Such tiny things to mould a character and change a life. The Blob sometimes hits a nerve [ouch].
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness . . . Strange Meeting Wilfred Owen