The beauty of breathing

This is not a metaphorical post about the joys of taking a break. No, this is about the actual beauty of being able to breathe properly. You know, the act of inhaling and exhaling that oxygenates your blood and helps your heart pump and therefore gives you life? Yeah, that breathing.

I have asthma. I’ve had it all my life really (I supposedly had pneumonia as a baby but when my asthma was properly diagnosed, the doc said it was probably my first asthma attack) and have been hospitalised a number of times. That said, I’ve thought I was going to die once and that was at the mall during work about 9 years ago. I felt disappointed that my life didn’t flash before my eyes but I was only 19 and I really hadn’t had much of a life to flash. Anywoo.

Flash forward to today. My asthma is generally well controlled – I take Advair every day, twice a day and as much as I would love to stop taking it, every experiment has been a failure. Breathing techniques are all great but when your symptoms sneak up on you anyway, it feels like a waste of time and you’re still reaching for the Ventolin. In addition to my lovely asthma, my lungs are also scarred from walking pneumonia, undiagnosed by a stupid doctor who told me I was being a hypochondriac and I should accept that my persistent cough – which was never a symptom of my asthma – was just asthma. I now have bronchiectasis, which means my persistent cough will be with me for life in some form or another, unless I want to add another daily steroid into my life and thanks but no thanks to that.

My symptoms are not usually immediately obvious to me. A usual “attack” starts slowly. I start getting really tired and needing to nap. A lot. A full night’s sleep is not enough. I take longer to recover from workouts and I can get a little low. It usually takes my mother’s light bulb moment of “how’s your asthma going?” to make me sit up and click. I don’t live anywhere near my parents anymore so it now takes me even longer to click.

This morning was my lightbulb moment.

For one, I couldn’t really breathe. For two, I felt dizzy in the shower and slightly sick. For three, I was exhausted and I’d had 8 hours sleep, so I should have been happy happy joy joy. Ah HA! I grabbed my puffer, got down to it and wow, I could breathe.

I also emailed in sick and went back to bed. I slept for 4 hours more. I feel so much better. Not 100% yet and I’ll probably have to start myself on some Predisone to get this gone but my trusty Ventolin is helping me out and this afternoon I’ll go get a new supply of Advair and up my dose on that too and soon I’ll be really jumping for joy.

I used to hate my body for this disease and sometimes I still do but now I know it’s something that makes me who I am and I need to learn to listen to my body more and more. I need to start meditating again – it helps me focus on how my body is doing, kinda like a daily check-up. How do you check in?


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