Three weeks ago, I came down with a cold, complete with raging sore throat and mega-sneezing. This evolved into a cough that was so ferocious that Bassman and the cats relegated themselves to the second bedroom for five days in an effort to find a bit of peace. During one of the extended coughing spasms towards the end of the second week, I felt something pop in my left mid-chest. Ouch. Initially, I thought that I had just bruised myself with the underwire from my bra but the pain didn't get any better. In fact, it got worse.
And then, on Friday night, my breathing started to become constricted. Now, I am afraid of many things. Spiders. The dark. Axe murderers. Cows. Dogs that aren't on their leads. The lights going off during an unexpected power cut at night (because then there's both the dark and axe murderers). But my biggest, biggest fear is of not being able to breathe. I don't know where this stems from; I assume that it's yet another irrational fear that has no basis in reality (unlike a fear of axe murderers, for example), but it freaks me out.
I bravely managed to hold on until today, when a 9am phone call (and another phone call at 10.20 as part of my GP surgery's new triage system - apparently chest pain and difficulty breathing no longer count as an emergency) finagled me an appointment at 11.45 with the practice nurse. The first part of her exam focused on the chest pain. After her first light touches produced giggles but nothing else, she dug her fingers into my ribs; once she peeled me off the ceiling and the reverberations from my shriek of pain died away, she diagnosed me as having either a cracked or bruised rib (more likely cracked) from the coughing.
The second part of the exam assessed my breathing and saw me blowing into a peak flow metre, with the result being well below what would be expected for someone of my age and fitness level. I blew into it a second and then a third time, increasing the reading a bit each time, but when I tried to do it a fourth time, the nurse took it from me with a comment of, 'You're certainly not competitive, are you?' She diagnosed me as having bronchoconstriction - not asthma, because I don't have the wheezing and mucous build up of asthma - and gave me a trial of salbutamol (a bronchodilator).
I had to wait for 15 minutes in the waiting room to see if the salbutamol had any effect, during which I read and enjoyed Saga Magazine (and felt very old). My breathing had indeed eased a bit by the end of the 15 minutes, so I left with a prescription for an inhaler and instructions to listen to my body, by which the nurse meant no running, no cardio at the gym, and no upper body weights until I 'feel better,' whatever that means.
I fear that the Aviemore Half Marathon is not going to happen for me this year, but there are still a couple of weeks left before I have to make that decision. All that I can do is see how it goes and look after myself. Which is why, 20 minutes after leaving the surgery, I was leaving the Cromarty Bakery with a selection of lovely biscuits. Medicinal support takes many forms.