Friday, September 25, 2009

There is Nothing I like More Than Being Able to Breathe

Sometimes I take breathing for granted. I imagine I take it for granted less than the average person because I used to experience asthma as a kid and teenager and occasionally in the last few years and also because of allergies. I definitely notice when I am breathing in my yoga practice and the breath is clear and available. It was just today though that it really hit me how big of an impact the pain I have been experiencing has had on me since I returned from the hospital.

It is not that I have been in a lot of pain mostly. On a scale of 1-10.......grrr.... an aside: my least favorite hospital question and for that matter question in general is "What is your pain level on a scale of 1-10." I dislike this question because I don't know how to answer it. I spend some of my time helping women with natural childbirth, compared with that how can I say my pain rates anything? I used to run with a volunteer rescue team... how does my pain rate? I have a ton of tumors inside my crucial organs, how much pain do I have? Finally I realized that what they were really asking was "Do you want any pain medication?" I also felt confused by this because if I take pain medication, how do I know it will wear off in time for when the doctors come in and ask me about the pain in order to understand what is going on with my body?...... anyway, the one big issue with the pain I have been feeling is that it sends nerve impulses that make my lungs not want to take deep breaths because that is when it hurts. Dont worry I also did accept pain medication twice during my hospital stay because I was unable to stop the racing of my mind in order to sleep when the pain was in the picture. I understood for the first time how pain medication could be helpful.

Last night I experienced the most pain so far. I went to tri-community potluck dinner at Sandhill and instead of being social ended up lying on the couch and then eating in silence because I felt so short of breath (and scared of the pain, hello again fear). I came home and went to bed. After a wonderful bedtime story read to me by Sharon I went to sleep. At some point in the night I rolled over and found myself in severe pain...maybe a 6, no 7 no, 3.4567..... I realized that I couldn't really move to get to the phone even if I wanted help and so began coaching myself like I learned from Alyssa how to guide laboring women..... dive beneath the waves of the pain.... it wasn't long, maybe 20 seconds really and then I felt a shift and the pain subsided. Not only that, also I could breathe fully.

Today was the best day yet I think since I knew I was sick. I could both breathe and eat mostly without any pain. I realized that the fatigue I had been feeling just walking 100 feet was not a whole body issue but rather just because I couldn't breathe fully. I am not doomed to waste away without getting any physical activity. The combination of breathing, sunshine, and good bad news made for a super day. I threw a frisbee with Nathan (sadly I am not yet ready for ultimate again), sat in the sun with Ziggy, April, Tereza, and Meadow playing with Pug the wacky black (get this) Pug, harvested the salad that was so carefully tended by friends in my absence and is now growing faster than we can eat it, started packing up my house with help from Alyson, Tereza, and Sara, the superpackers, getting ready for an unknown amount of time in MA, ate dinner with the folks in Sunflower, played fiddle with Dave for this evenings Waltz lessons, danced with Dan and Nathan (I was even able to swing dance), and got a foot and hand rub from Sparky. It feels so great to be able to do again and although I am sore from all the activity I can still breathe.

I feel like a queen. No not a queen..... I feel more like a revered elder in a tribal village. Or maybe I feel like (watch out I am going to try to make a movie reference and I don't remember the name of the movie and I am not sure I know the actors name but here goes) Jim Carey? in the movie where his life is set up to run a certain way because he is actually on television, or something like that. People are working so hard behind the scenes to make my life right now have as little stress as possible. I go about my day and everything runs smoothly and there is a definitely awareness of my presence as I walk through the village in a way that I feel the love coming at me but its not uncomfortable.

Why would anyone ever heal when they are getting this kind of treatment for being sick......(that is a joke).


  1. Oh the pain scale! I hate asking that question as much as you hate answering it! I don't know how to answer it either. I mean really, what is the difference between a 6 and a 7? And my 6 may be nowhere near your 6. It seems foolish to me. But in the machine that is the hospital Pain is the "5th vital sign" and as such, must be measured and recorded. It's a way of making us prove that we cared enough about you to find out if you were in pain. It's also a way for us to show that when presented with a patient need (your pain) we implemented an intervention (pain meds or other pain-relieving techniques) and were able to assess the effectiveness afterward (asking you about it again). I routinely forget to ask that question and feel silly having to go back in and readdress the pain we already talked about on a numerical scale. If you should ever find yourself required to answer the question again tell them that you want to use the FACES scale. :-)

  2. The Truman Show (I know this because it's one of only two Jim Carrey movies I actually liked, the other being Man on the Moon).

    I love your blog, thanks for sharing so much of yourself.