Nerve Damage – the Lungs

Yesterday, someone shared an article on one of the fibromyalgia support group Facebook sites titled, “Is Nerve Damage Affecting the Lungs in Fibromyalgia?” on  As a general rule of thumb, I don’t look too far into articles like this one. Its author is some guy named “Cort,” and there is no reference section to say where he’s gotten most of his information.  The article is based on an online survey which depends on self-reporting. In short it’s not too “scientific.”  However, Cort does reference research that I’m aware of and appears in my library, (see Albrecht et al), which is ongoing and very interesting. The particular article he references is one that I need to read, however, and I will.

What caught my attention with this article is the lung aspect. I’ve had trouble with shortness of breath and difficulty taking deep breaths with any sort of physical exercise for years, in particular since my massive pulmonary emboli episode near the turn of the century. At first, it was a scar tissue issue. There was damage from the emboli, and since there were clots in every lobe of both lungs, the damage was widespread. When I was doing the Crossfit Bootcamp, which was an extreme cardio workout twice a week, I could feel improvement in my lung capacity. I could take deeper breaths and catch my breath quicker. By the end of bootcamp I was able to work in my garden without feeling like I was going to pass out.  That was great, but it was temporary.

Before the end of summer, while I was still exercising but in a different program that had less cardio and more weightlifting, my lungs started slipping back into their old habits.  I have not regained the lung capacity I had during and shortly after bootcamp. It amazed me at the time how quickly it all slipped away from me.  It’s like my body requires constant extreme exercise to keep my lungs functional. Swimming has not increased functionality; yoga didn’t either.  I’ve never blamed my lung dysfunctionality – which is not real, by the way, because my lungs test just fine and the doctors are quick to blame deconditioning – on fibromyalgia.  Never connected them. However, if there is something to a dysfunction of blood vessels, which starts the dominoes falling, it would certainly affect lung function. It could also explain the near immediate decline after bootcamp.  It’s something I need to look into further, find other articles and studies that may be looking at this possibility.

In the meantime, it’s also a reminder that it is possible to feel better, but (that big old but) extreme exercise is… well, extreme… and I’m not an athlete. The only reason I made it through bootcamp was because there was a defined timeframe for it. I couldn’t put myself through it indefinitely, which was one of the reasons for failure of the post-bootcamp program I was in. This blog started being all about exercise for fibromyalgia.  I haven’t lost sight of that. There’s a key, but I’m not sure which door it’s supposed to open.

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