Catching My Breath

It’s been three months since I sat in her office. Today I went back for a check up and to formulate a plan so I may not find myself as desperately ill as I was back then.

I’ve been doing pretty good, back to baseline as they say. I got a peak flow meter today as a better guide to my lung function than the previous meter I was using (if I got short of breathing going DOWN stairs — I knew I was in trouble). But it all reminds you of The Thing.

The Thing you have that your friends and co-workers don’t have. I have an invisible chronic disease. Ironically, I am otherwise healthy. I have a good BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol level, all other organs are cruising along just fine. Even the female parts settled through menopause without too much ado. But the lungs, well, they’ve been annoyed since I was a teenager.

I’m a nurse though and good at taking care of myself. I didn’t even go to a pulmonologist until a few years back. Denial, not just a river in Egypt. About two years ago, she was completely caught off guard when I went from baseline to severely ill as though I leapt off a cliff. She said to me, “You really are asthmatic!”. Yep. I am. Now if I can just believe it.

Seeing her regularly helps me with that. I’ve stopped doing dumb stuff that makes my lungs revolt, like keeping pets and dating men who smoke. DUH.

Its about accepting myself, for who I am, my body for all it’s parts and loving every part of it. The parts of myself that can hold a shoulder stand and move into a plow smoothly as much as the parts that wheeze and cough and make me miss work and stop me dead in my tracks.

On days like today when I sit in her office, remembering I have asthma — I don’t do so with self pity. Far from that. Because in her waiting room I am surrounded by my fellow pulmonary patients, many in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks in tow.

I gratefully take my new flow meter and follow our ‘plan’. Because I am asthmatic. This is my reality.

Perspective. Life is always, always, always about perspective.

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