Friday, January 03, 2014

A is for...

So I wake up before 4 am. It's cold. And straight away I notice my breathing.

There's a slight wheeze. A bit of tightness in my chest. A tinge of inflammation in my throat. I feel the small aches in my back muscles, all those miniscule efforts to breathe deeply, compounded.

This asthma thing.

And then I realize what a joy and a privilege it is just to be able to BREATHE.

To just take in oxygen that gives life to every cell in your body. Without it I'd be dead. With 50% less, I'm half alive. With 30% less, I'm only 70% alive. You get the picture.

Oxygen is precious. The ability to breathe it even more so. Predictably, it's only now, when I'm sick, that I am able to realize this. I must protect this ability.

I'll be seeing a pulmonologist for the first time today. But already I know what I have to do:

1. Get enough rest
...especially now that I'm sick. I feel it. My body is crying out for rest. I do not have the strength that I used to. Although I can move around, I am not energetic. I am easily tired.

My body needs rest, and I must give it, everyday. No more staying up late. Go home. Eat dinner. Turn off the smartphone. Go to sleep. Maybe read, because it helps me fall asleep anyway. Must keep the immune system up.

That daily commute. I must do something about that too.

2. Stay warm
And exactly why am I awake before 4 am? Because I feel cold. Cold weather and cold room temperatures are a trigger for my allergies. Out-of-town trips, movie theaters, church services, the office - I can never go anywhere without a shawl. Now I know why grandmas have shawls. Sigh.

3. Avoid allergens
I have to make a conscious effort now to stay away from secondhand smoke and pollution. And dust.

Must keep the house and car always clean. And stay away from vacation houses with mold and mildew!

4. Eat right
As part of keeping my immune system up, I have to make healthy food choices. This means far less of the chemical-laden processed foods, and more of natural foods like fruits and raw vegetables.

I need vitamin C and probiotics. I need high fiber to fight cholesterol. Fortunately I've already lessened the red meat, but I still need to cut down on the carbs and sugar.

I have to figure out why I crave carbs so much. And I have to find a snack alternative in the afternoons.

5. Find your center
Life can be so demanding, but there's no sense or reason in going around like a headless chicken. I need my quiet time in the morning. I need to get my direction and realign my priorities everyday. I decide to be in control of my life.

6. Don't stress yourself
In the middle of the day, don't let situations get the better of you. Work is just work; problems are just problems. In the larger scheme of things, it's about who you are and how you behave with character towards certain situations. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture. And don't get upset.

7. Get real and connect more
Don't forget what life is all about. It's not about getting things done, but the relationships you build along the way. Affirming your child, appreciating your mom, showing your sis that you care, being there for friends or just laughing with them. Don't forget the 'just laughing' part.

Sometimes we look at people, even ourselves, as objects. No more of that.

And when I'm stronger...

7. Exercise

In my case, swimming is the best. Maybe I'll do biking. I need to strengthen my lungs. Will consult with my pulmonologist later about how gradually I can do this.

Whoa. Daunting.

That's all I can think of for now. I wasn't planning on a lifestyle change, but it looks like I already need one.

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