lunch water, breathing easy


Mary and her glass chamber.


Biking with Ungerer.


My favorite pulmonologist: Dr. Ungerer.

I saw Dr. Ungerer earlier in the day. He’s still rad. After putting me through his typical battery of breathing exams, we discussed some lingering affects I may experience from last year’s lung trauma. Of specific concern was prolonged muscle weakness, as Ungerer mentioned a recent study has detailed strength impediment in young patients who have spent a week or more in intensive care, and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) symptoms such as asthma. Muscle weakness has not been an issue for me for several months at least (I assume patients with debilitating strength concerns are not climbing as much as I’m climbing) but lung utilization might not be what it should. Ungerer explained to me the process by which a lung is "hardened" in response to severe pneumonia, how alveoli may not function optimally in such a presentation. We determined medication in my case may be beneficial but certainly not necessary, perhaps for use prior to exercise, in my case swimming, to counter-effect exercise-induced asthma. So he gave me an inhaler that I used later that day before my swim routine. It worked. I can’t say I was skipping across the water but lung capability was undeniably improved and so were my times. There is a concern I have regarding long-term use of any drug. However, my use of an inhaler is not guaranteed for long-term, as a completely healthy lung would not benefit from this medication, nor is its affect today really that dramatic. To quantify its affect, I will say it improves my swimming performance between 10 and 15% – noticeable but not mind-blowing. A competitive swimmer bumping against the inside of his potential performance envelope would surely be grateful for an improvement of that scale but I can do fine without it. So I don’t know – I might use it again. I might even use it regularly for a while. Regardless, the inhaler does not provide me an enormous ergogenic benefit.

I was so pumped up about the prognosis Ungerer gave me that I went climbing at Vertical Heaven after getting out of the pool. The climbing session also was rad and left me totally knackered for the day. Between Ungerer’s stationary bike exam, swimming, then climbing, I was tapped out – good Wednesday.

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