Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Air That I Breathe

I suffer with COPD. That is a respiratory disease and stands for “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” that means that I struggle with my breathing because, my airways are obstructed.

The common belief is that it is caused mostly by cigarette smoking, and statistics are there to support that. Times are changing however as more research goes on and more is discovered each day.
If you read my first two entries then there is no need to rehash the same stuff about an umbrella term etc. There are other respiratory problem causing agents amongst which would be; exposure to toxic chemicals, mines, even paper-mills etc. Each of these are contributory factions that help cause respiratory disease. Of course with the resulting damage and lung volume losses, comes a shortage of oxygen to the blood stream.

This then creates further problems that are now heart related, you can see where all this is going to. As the disease progresses then so too does your medication changes in order to improve and accommodate your ability to breathe and for a better quality of life.

It is amazing how now, when I look around at the World, people and everything in general, that goes into a days makeup I give a little sigh. I can remember when things were quite different and now today, all of that has gone forever. I see people today who still don’t realize the value of the gift that they still hold in their possession.

What I mean by that is the everyday normal things that a healthy person takes for granted and never even has to think twice about. Natural things like a heart beat, a breathe of air a smell of fresh roses and cut grass or even the BBQ, or maple bacon cooking.
When you reach the stages of this disease with all its problems, you are acutely more aware of every sight and sound, every person and their behavior even as they walk down the street; for even moving and walking can be awkward and at times down right impossible for someone with COPD without some form of assistance.

This last week because my condition had worsened and my breathing even with oxygen had become even more of a struggle, they changed my medication and added another one, the dreaded Prednisone. I had started the day in better shape but then things progressed to the point that without any warning I coughed up a real mess of stuff, which turned out to be a viral infection. That necessitated a trip to the doctors and the resulting sequence of events.

I want you if you will to try and imagine trying to breathe with this disease.

I would like you to take a deep breath and hold it; now without exhaling take another breath, HOLD it! Now with all that inside of you try one more time to breathe. But that’s impossible I hear you say!

Well for someone with a severe case of COPD that’s exactly what it is like all the time. This is why they eventually put you on a short 21 day tapering burst of Prednisone. For this is one drug that is very effective and opens the airways more so you can finally breathe easier for a short while at least and it gets you over the hump if you will. A tapering dose usually consists of seven days each time of a differing strength level, and tapering down to the lowest edge in seven day increments. Believe me the difference is like night and day, take my word for it.

Armed with all that you have read so far, I want you to imagine the pure relief of that first breath with Prednisone.

Close your eyes, now allow your mind to create an image in your head; think if you like of an hour glass/ egg timer, the kind with the sand that runs down through it. Or if you prefer, think of your body as the hour glass your air intake being your mouth and nose will provide the air that you really are so hungry to taste because it has been too long.
Think of your throat that is the pathway to your airway and into your lungs; the key vessel just waiting to receive all this life giving elixir.

Now are you ready? Gently and slowly just start to draw that air into the funnel towards your throat, can you feel it? Allow it to caress its way down the walls of your windpipe towards the lungs. Slowly now! Don’t rush it, feel how it washes its way down into the airway, remember that feeling for it is so beautiful right now. Finally, nice and easily, take it gently into your lungs and feel it brushing around the walls of the vessel; carrying the life’s blood oxygen to the alveoli ready to be transferred into the blood.

Gently now start to exhale the residue carbon monoxide, up and away to the exit way back into the outside air, so as to replenish once again for another round trip. Do you remember what all that felt like? Did you savor it like you would a glass of good brandy?

Remember your gift that you take so much for granted, remember your experience with your first breathe of Prednisone fresh air, and don’t ever forget that.

Breathe Easy and breathe deep!



pumpkin said...

Thank you for reminding me of the preciousness of clear breathing. Your descriptions are very well done and had me breathing (or NOT breathing) right along with you. I wish you well and hope they find a cure for COPD soon. I watched my own mother struggle and die with this disease and know about its horrors.

Eric Valentine said...

Hello Pumpkin hope you are well, sorry it took me so long to notice your comment.

I share your wish for a cure or some such new treatment.. :)