I have updated my health status as it relates to this article, which you will find at the end
In early 2020, the world grappled with an unprecedented pandemic that would change our lives forever. COVID-19 swept across nations, leaving a trail of sickness, death, and uncertainty in its wake. As we all know, the virus affects people differently, ranging from mild symptoms to severe complications. This is the story of how I discovered, almost by accident, that I had incurred lung damage from my battle with COVID-19.
Life Before COVID
For years, I lived in the beautiful state of Washington, where I enjoyed an active lifestyle. My weekly routine included regular runs, usually covering a distance of 6.2 miles, or a 10-kilometer run, at least once a week. Running was not only a source of exercise for me but also a way to unwind and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I had even managed to achieve the elusive goal of completing a 10-kilometer run in under an hour, a significant achievement for me.
The Onset of COVID-19
Like many others, I contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic. The experience was grueling, and it left me debilitated for a while. However, I was determined to bounce back, even if it meant continuing my runs during the illness. Strangely, during my bout with COVID-19, my lungs didn’t feel remarkably different, which might have been due to the overall fatigue and discomfort I was experiencing.
The Post-COVID Struggles
As I recovered from COVID-19, I eagerly laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement once more. However, I quickly noticed a significant change. What used to be an invigorating experience had turned into a struggle. I couldn’t complete even the first mile without feeling utterly exhausted. My initial optimism soon gave way to frustration as I realized that I could no longer achieve my personal record (PR) in a 10-kilometer run.
The Move to Montana and Idaho
Life took me on a journey as I moved from Washington to Montana for almost a year before settling in Idaho, where I currently reside. Throughout this period, I continued to run, albeit at a pace far slower than what I was accustomed to in Washington. My dream of completing a 10-kilometer run in under an hour seemed to slip further and further away.
A Revelation at the Doctor’s Office
It wasn’t until my wife’s recent doctor’s visit that the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. My wife, who had also contracted COVID-19, was experiencing similar struggles with her newfound running routine. During her checkup, the doctor suggested that her persistent fatigue might be related to lung damage caused by COVID-19. This suggestion was like a bolt from the blue for both of us, as we hadn’t even considered the possibility of such long-term effects.
The Albuterol Experiment
Armed with this newfound knowledge, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I obtained a prescription for Albuterol, a bronchodilator commonly used to treat respiratory conditions like asthma. Last week, after months of struggling to achieve my former running glory, I decided to give it a try. I took a couple of puffs of Albuterol before heading out for my run, unsure of what to expect.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The results were nothing short of astonishing. As I started running, I immediately felt the difference. My breathing was less labored, and I didn’t feel like I was about to keel over during the final stretch. I completed a 10-kilometer run in just over 60 minutes, the fastest time I could remember in the past few years. It was a stark contrast to the 64-minute ordeal I had endured without Albuterol the week before.
The Vaccine Dilemma
It is at this juncture in my journey that doubts began to creep in. Not long after recovering from COVID-19, I received the vaccine. With all the mixed information and misinformation surrounding the vaccines, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my loss in lung capacity might have been caused by the vaccine itself, rather than the actual virus.
It does seem that the JnJ shot I took is not associated with lung damage, so it likely was not that. However, it is less than comforting to know that the CDC pulled the vaccine just months later because it was killing too many people. So instead, I’ll more likely die from a massive heart attack caused by severe blood clots than lung issues. That’s so comforting!
My journey with COVID-19 has been a rollercoaster ride, from the initial diagnosis to the gradual realization of the long-term effects on my lungs. While I generally try to avoid medications due to their potential side effects, I couldn’t ignore the positive impact Albuterol had on my running performance and, by extension, my overall well-being. This experience has made me acutely aware of the hidden and often underestimated consequences of COVID-19, even in seemingly mild cases.
I think perhaps I may have fallen for the placebo effect. While COVID has been known to cause lung damage and all of the vaccines have been shown to be horrible for some people, I’m questioning now if I am one of them. Today I ran a 10k as I usually do on Saturdays but I did NOT take Albuterol first. In fact, The last time I did was last week. However, today I ran it in just over 62 minutes. While this is not the fastest I’ve ever done, it is the fastest in well over a year. So what changed? I did do some breathing exercises this week that may have contributed, but again, who knows for sure. At bedtime most nights this week I spend a few minutes doing deep breathing and afterwords, holding my breath until it became uncomfortable. Did it help? Maybe but I thought the Alabuterol helped too at seems I was wrong. In any case, it was a perfect day for running, so that may have helped too. My final conclusion is that if COVID did damage my lungs at all, it must have been incredibly minor.