Breath (part 2)

Back in the summer I wrote about my difficulties breathing. There were about 4 weeks that I couldn’t get a full breath, and a few more weeks when things were better but still uncomfortable.

I remember being at work and realizing that I wasn’t really getting enough oxygen. I called an Uber, went home, and laid in the cool basement and slept off and on all afternoon.

In one of my moments of wakefulness I emailed my neurologist and asked what we could do to help my breathing muscles. She emailed back almost immediately and said she’d get me in to see the respirologist.

That respirology appointment gave me one of my favourite tools to date. I’ve written before about Gatorade and K-Tape and other things that help me but nothing compares to this one.

Its technical name is a Lung Volume Recruitment (LVR) kit but I call it my breathing bag.

I fill my lungs as much as I can on my own, then I pop the mouthpiece in and squeeze the bag while I take little sips of air to pump my lungs up all the way. There’s a one way valve in the tubing so no air can escape. I’ve been told this technique is called stacked breathing.

It’s amazing.

The respirologist explained that as my breathing becomes shallower, my muscles get tight (which I know and that’s why I use massage to help) and this includes the ligaments around my lungs. The breathing bag expands my lungs to their full capacity, stretching out those ligaments and eliminating the restrictions around my lungs.

If you have ever blown up a balloon you’ll know how it feels when it’s initially inflated just as far as the rubber allows… but as you keep blowing there’s that moment when the rubber starts to stretch and the balloon begins to grow.

That’s what it feels like in my lungs. Sometimes I can feel the different lobes and segments pop open and start to stretch, one by one.

I get a head rush as the oxygen floods in and the pain in my chest subsides. That burning, tightening, squeeze. It’s gone and there’s movement and air.

Also gone is the anxiety. Back in the summer my every thought was about getting more air. How could I reduce my movements? How could I open my diaphragm? How could I speak less? How could I breathe more?

Now I carry my breathing bag with me on days when I think it might get difficult and I don’t worry. Knowing that I will always be able to fill my lungs and get the oxygen I need makes me feel safe.

It allows me to talk, and walk, and move, and sing without fear.

I love it.

There is no flattering way to take a photo of yourself using one of these. I know – I tried.

3 thoughts on “Breath (part 2)

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