Breathing lessons-A A +A
Saturday, June 23, 2012
I HAVE asthma. Yup. It is one of my health challenges. I got it when I was twenty-one years old, after about two years of really bad allergic rhinitis. In the early years, it was really bad, bad, BAD. I remember feeling like I was walking with a spear through my chest and back that wiggled while I moved. Ugh. I would feel raw pain in my chest from all the coughing I did! it was awful and I felt tired all the time and I knew I looked lethargic with those glassy eyes, red face and a distinct hacking cough that came with the sound of crackling fireworks (otherwise known as phlegm). Eewww.
It was difficult. I know other asthmatics out there would agree. It gets so bad sometimes that you get dizzy from the coughing; there simply was not enough air to keep you from those mini-blackouts. And when you gasp for air, it does feel like you are breathing through a drinking straw. I learned how to sleep in a sitting position without any support because of this illness. Believe me, it was much, much worse when you had the flu. I cannot remember how many times it has reduced me to tears while I sat and tried to sleep.
You know what, I survived it.
And I have survived many more. As I sit here staring at the screen, I realized that yes, I HAVE SURVIVED MUCH MORE and yet for weeks I have been struggling with this feeling that I have been defeated by my health challenges and that all I could do is wait for the grim reaper to take me (quietly without much fanfare and drama, I prayed).
The idea of death and dying is not really taboo to me. It is something no one will ever escape. We all die a little every day, anyway. Maybe that's why there are people who are afraid of aging. Hmm. I wish dying wouldn't have to be so traumatic for those we leave behind. If I could see it as merely taking an eternal vacation, I would feel much, much better.
When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, what pained me most was the fact that my family would have to suffer seeing me go through the treatment and at the same time face the reality of mortality.
Believe me, when you get to stare death in the eye while it glares at you, you learn that your priorities are so skewed, it wouldn't stand up to death to save your life! You suddenly realize what matters most to you and that material things or worries are not among them. You learn to appreciate the simple things that you can do, like spend time with your family, admire a gorgeous sunset or just being able to sit and be there.
I must have taken a thousand pictures during that time. I couldn't get enough of what I see that I wanted to take actual pictures to supplement my memory. At night, when everybody was asleep or even during the day when everyone else is trying to go on with their lives and I am stuck in my room at home or in the hospital, I look at the pictures and remember the good things about the day that I took it. You know, cancer is not an easy thing to deal with. I have lost three good friends from it. The fact that I am still here to tell you all these are mind-blowing. And just now, I am filled with much gratitude and appreciation that I am able to go on. I should be thankful that I am still here, able to share my thoughts and probably encourage and cheer up at least one other person.
But I am fallible.
Sometimes I just want to kick myself. I have so much to thank for and yet I am struck dead in my tracks when I am faced with a challenge. I weep and feel defeated even when I've been awarded feathers in my cap from weathering many issues. I am consumed by the fact that I am not feeling that well; by my standards. Hazy.
My sister Jo-an always reminds me that I am improving and that I have gone a long way from my cancer days. Sometimes she scolds me like a big sister for being such a wimp! She always reminds me to (woo) man up to my challenges because there are people who are not as strong. Sometimes, she cries with me when I am pained and feeling really down. My brother sleeps beside me when I'm sick and scared of being alone. He always checks on me if I'm okay. If I start talking about how my mom has been my rock, I can go on forever.
The truth is, we all have angels around us to make life easier. We have family and friends who are there to support us and guide us, kick our butts and cheer us up so we can go on with life no matter what. We should all be thankful for this.
I have asthma again. It feels so unfamiliar that I panic. My lungs have taken quite a beating over the years; it has parts that don’t work as well as it should. Like the owner. I went to my pulmonologist and he says I should pay attention to my breathing. So, I have been doing deep breathing exercises. I am still a long way from my goal of at least 93% oxygen saturation (which means I am not getting enough oxygen), but it has improved with my exercises.
Whenever I do my breathing exercises, I have spasms in my back that hurt. Still I do it and I find that my oxygenation improves. It makes me happy and I feel braver.
So here's my breathing lesson. Instead of thinking of dying or anything negative, think about the life you are still blessed with to live. You have so much promise left in you so don't waste it, don't give up on yourself. If you're in pain, that's okay. You can cry about it and try finding ways to get rid of it. Your life need not stop because of it.
Sometimes when you try to do other things, you realize that there is much, much more than you can do that you haven't discovered yet.
We are only human and so we are fallible. But we are also resilient and we are stronger than we think. Be strong and believe in yourself. Right
Happy Sunday!! :)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 24, 2012.