Jim Gardiner was diagnosed with asthma at four years old, but he’s never let that get in the way of what he’s wanted to accomplish. He recently took on the challenge of an Ironman triathlon as a way to raise money for the BC Lung Association. Lung patient advocate Darcy Murdoch sat down with Jim to learn how he’s managed his asthma and what’s inspired him to train for his upcoming triathlon.
You found out you had asthma when you were four?
Yes, I was born with asthma but wasn’t diagnosed until I was four. It was pretty scary from ages 8-13. I was admitted into the hospital at least once a year and had asthma attacks frequently, which often resulted in getting adrenaline shots to open up my lungs so I could breathe.
One time, when I was 17 I had a seizure and stopped breathing. My dad had to give me mouth-to-mouth to revive me. As you can imagine it was really scary, but it didn’t stop me from playing in a tennis tournament the very next day!
Does anyone else in your family have asthma?
Luckily no else has asthma, but my father has stage four COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Stage four means there are no other treatment options besides being on an oxygen program.
Tell me about the Ironman Triathlon you’re training for. Who are you doing it for?
An Ironman Triathlon is 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, finished with 26.2 miles of running. My goal is to finish it all within 12 hours!
I’m doing it for my father and as a personal challenge. My motivation is to raise awareness and funds for asthma and COPD; specifically I want to raise $15,000 for the BC Lung Association.
I imagine this would be a hard feat for anyone, let alone someone with asthma?
While this is my very first triathlon, I was a competitive rower for 15 years and reached the Nationals. From that experience, I know all about vigorous exercise, exertion, and stamina. And I’ll have my puffer on me throughout the triathlon – except for the swimming part of course.
How can people support you?
I’ll be posting daily training videos and educational information at @tritobreathe. You can follow along there, and donate at http://bcla.convio.net/site/TR?px=1030295&fr_id=1092&pg=personal. I would also really like all people living with asthma and COPD to know that they can live their life, even with the health challenges they may face because of their conditions.
Any plans after the triathlon?
I plan to live my life to the fullest and continue my work of helping others. I’ve found it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and stay healthy. Also, I’d love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro one day!