I have been an asthmatic since the age of thirty. I was probably also asthmatic as a child but it was treated then as a chronic coughs.
I made the decision 18 months ago to get fit and compete in the Sovereign Series Swim across Auckland Harbour. I made the crossing and am now hooked on swimming. However, the increased training caused my asthma to deteriorate. It had reached the stage where I was having to use my reliever inhaler far too often during the day and before and after training sessions.
Also I was coughing frequently during training, and getting loads of mucus – not nice.
I was using my preventor inhaler twice daily with all the yucky side effects. It had reached the stage where I thought I would be on daily inhalers for the rest of my life, complete with peak flow monitoring etc.
I went back to my long-suffering GP again. He suggested that I might be allergic to chlorine. Not good news for someone who enjoys swimming in a pool 4–5 times a week! He ordered skin sensitivity tests again but the results came back negative, thank goodness. He suggested I see a chest specialist or alternatively the Buteyko Breathing Clinic might be able to help.
I made an appointment at the Butekyo Clinic in mid-October, 2009. I left the clinic with some breathing exercises to practise and some remarkable insights about breathing and asthma. The Buteyko approach makes perfect sense and I was astounded that I had not heard about Buteyko in twenty years as a nurse.
Within a week I had left my reliever inhaler in my bag in the car when I went to the pool. Two weeks into the programme the mucus had cleared up and I was able to swim 25m on one breath after a hard training session. Six weeks into the programme my doctor agreed to my stopping the
preventer inhalers and immediately my mouth started to feel great. Sleep has also improved out of sight!
I have suffered from migraines for years and would get at least two to three a month. I discovered to my surprise that the migraine headaches must also have been a symptom of my breathing because I haven’t had a migraine since doing the course and now only get very occasional and mild headaches.
On the 1st November 2009 I completed the 5km walk in the Auckland Marathon and came second in my age group! A week later I headed to Gisborne and competed in the North Island Masters Short Course Champs and swam four personal bests, a bit tight in the chest after the hard races but did not develop into asthma. AND no cramps in the legs when competing.
On the 21st November I swam across Auckland Harbour again in the 2009–10 Sovereign Swim series. The swim felt brilliant. I did all the swim races in the series and came in the top ten in my age group and with no sign of asthma.
On 21st March I competed in the 4.6km Rangitoto to St Heliers swim and felt so good I could have turned around and swam back. My lungs are no longer limiting my ability to compete. I am still doing my breathing exercises as directed don't want to return to those bad old days.
In short, the Buteyko course was brilliant and life changing. I only wish I had known about this twenty years ago.