My youngest daughter contracted a serious pneumonia infection during the fall of 2011. She spent five days in the hospital as an incredibly sick little girl. The severity of the illness led to a very slow recovery, and lingering challenges that were eventually defined as “illness induced asthma”.
Karyn is naturally very stoic in nature which made properly diagnosing the ensuing period of diminished lung capacity a journey. Five months after the infection, it became obvious to me as I coached her on the track and in the swimming pool that her lung capacity was not normal despite her lack of complaining. It was a shock when further testing discovered that she was operating at just over 50% of normal capacity.
From April of 2012 to December of 2013, Karyn’s pediatrician steadily increased her asthma treatment medicines as I kept asking the question, “Will she ever fully heal?” Over the next year and a half, Matt and I became increasingly uncomfortable with the levels of steriods prescribed all the while Karyn continued to contract many additional respiratory illnesses and a second pneumonia infection. Ultimately, we decided to travel to Omaha to see a pulmonology specialist.
I did not know what we would find under the care of Dr. Kevin Murphy at Boys Town National Research Hospital, but my heart told me to keep looking and have faith. I read articles about using fitness training to strengthen lung capacity as a natural augmentation to regular asthma treatment. I thought that it might be a good fit for my sports-loving young athlete.
In addition to being an esteemed pulmonologist, Dr. Murphy is the father of two competitive swimmers which enabled us to find common ground on the natural fitness component of a new treatment plan. He switched Karyn to an inhaler that more deeply penetrated the lungs in order to reach the damaged tissue while also instructing me to create a strenuous fitness program that included both swimming and running in order to naturally strengthen her respiratory system.
Eight months later, we have begun to wean Karyn off of the daily preventative QVAR inhaler with incredibly exciting results. Her overall health is excellent and her lung capacity and general immune function are strong. For the first time in almost three years, I truly believe that Karyn will fully heal. I am confident that there will be a day when daily drug treatment will no longer be necessary. I am just as confident that fitness will play a permanent role in Karyn’s life journey.
Every day, I make decisions as both a mom and a cattle caregiver. I believe in the power of fitness — both for my children and my animals, and that governs my decision making process. There is tremendous beauty to be found in putting together the necessary pieces for well-being; and I love it when we can replace drugs with fitness in order to maintain optimal health.