Well, it’s real and absolutely official – I do have exercise induced asthma. I did a bronchial challenge test yesterday afternoon in the Respiratory Lab at Royal Melbourne, and had the results analysed and interpreted this morning by my (new) sports physician who is a leading expert in exercise induced asthma.
The challenge test yesterday, very simply, was sucking treated air out of a very large balloon and breathing it back out through a meter. The more air you breathe, the more reliable the peak flow tests that are performed after you empty the balloon. The post-balloon emptying peak flow tests suggest that there is more going on than just asthma, although there is a definite indication of asthma in the tests. So whilst I can churn through a large volume of air, I don’t do it as efficiently and effectively as a fit racing cyclist should (well, that’s my understanding of what the doc said this morning).
An issue I had with the testing is that the balloon test is meant to replicate the hardest workout you’d ever do. For me, it was about 80% of the hardest workout. If I rode a pursuit at that rate, I’d be very disappointed that I didn’t ride hard enough. I did enough yesterday (after having some initial pace-setting from the test administrator) to well and truly pass the test, with an “A” on the report card for balloon emptying.
So more testing is scheduled. Week after next I am back in the Doc’s room, on my trainer, pumping out pursuit efforts so she can see what’s going on, how I actually breathe, and what happens at various stages of exercise. Hopefully, with regular use of a preventer (one I have used with only partial success in the past) and some breathing training, I can get some real control over the asthma, so it doesn’t come visiting when I need to be breathing free.