Thankful for my lungs

All our parts are precious...

When we are young, we don't think much about our health. I can recall all the times I would do cheerleading jumps and my mom would wince, thinking about her knees. Little did I know the "snap crackle pop" I had in store decades later. It's true. When I smoked, I always knew I would quit. When I drank, I counted on my liver's ability to heal itself (within limits). There were many jokes exchanged, "by the time I wear down, they will be able to transplant whatever I need!" It seems so pompous and foolish now. Mostly because I work in healthcare, and I've seen everything break down to the end. Not everything can be replaced. All our parts are precious. 

Nearing zen-status...

About a year ago, I started to have a hard time breathing. I couldn't pinpoint the cause, physiological, or anxiety. I was meditating my bum off, and was pretty sure I was nearing zen-status. My throat seemed to close down with cold air, perfumes, exertion, or any allergens. I would cough endlessly, and mucus-y grossness became my middle name. Lucky for me I work at a pulmonary rehab with a respiratory therapist. After some conversation, I learned that a small percentage of asthmatics have coughing as their primary symptom. I quit smoking about 11 years ago, and was pretty concerned that I had caused my own problem here, but I was assured that my meager smoking history should be irrelevant at this point (phew!). I tried three different inhalers and reacted to them all. Almost total airway shut-down. I had to whisper for hours after using one of those overpriced suckers. It was suggested that I see a pulmonologist because of this unique reaction. Of course, the specialist wouldn't even see me until I had a pulmonary function test. Hello $800.00 out-of-pocket! All for a 20 minute visit in which I was told I was normal, and perhaps experiencing vocal cord spasms. Of course, they study this at National Jewish Hospital, and I may want to consider looking into a trip. What the WHAT?!!! 

Inflammation-the cause of all chronic disease...

Rage doesn't come close to how I was feeling. I just broke down in my car after the appointment. I wasn't getting any answers, and was being treated like a second class moron. A sweet nurse from the pulmonology office suggested I try an oral medication to prevent asthma attacks/allergies, since inhalers were practically killing me. It helped so much. I was thankful to be able to hike again without coughing my insides out- but over time, it worked less and less. At work, my medical director (one of my favorite people on the planet) is dead set on inflammation being the cause of all chronic disease. Inflammation can be caused by obesity, alcohol abuse, sugar addiction, depression, anxiety- basically everything in our culture. While I'm a healthy weight, it's not my favorite weight. I made the decision to nurture myself, and focus on my health in a somewhat radical way. Within two weeks, my coughing GONE. All reactions to pollutants- GONE. Mucus-y middle name? Nowhere to be found. It's not only a miracle, but reinforcement that inflammation has a big part in our health. To boot, we are learning how to do stress tests at work, and employees are the first guinea pigs. I had been scheduled for over a month, but terrified to exert myself with a mask on my face, restricting my breathing. Guess what? ROCKED IT! 

Functioning off sugar and carbs...

I have so much gratitude for my lungs. Working around patients that need oxygen to survive, taking ten minutes to recover from a short walk, and wasting away at the end-of-life literally suffocating to death. While I don't know a fraction of their struggle, I do appreciate every deep breath I take without coughing. My recent freedom from these symptoms has inspired me so much. If simple dietary changes can make such a radical difference in my life, I plan to continue prioritizing myself indefinitely. None of this "functioning off sugar and carbs," because I'm exhausted crap. Take a minute to check in with yourself. Are you caring for you? Making yourself a priority? Take it from this breathing champ- it's worth it. Happy Gratitude Tuesday. What are you grateful for?

AM