Take a moment…right now…take a deep breath. Inhale…you can feel your chest bellow and your tiny hairs tickle your nostrils…now exhale. Every ounce of your breath leaves and you notice a slight shift of your inner body. If you never really breathe deeply like this, you would rarely notice you were even breathing. It is so second nature and a part of our every moment that breathing is completely normal…just a part of being alive. Now…imagine one of your lungs being collapsed…all the time…and instead of your chest bellowing out with a huge sip of air, your stomach has to over compensate for your lack of lung expansion. Imagine it hurting to take a deep breath. Imagine not being able to take full breaths but only quick, short, thin ones. What would go through your mind in that moment? Would you panic? There is no way you could not notice such a change in your breathing pattern because this would be out of the norm for you. What would you do?
Last night, John and I did not sleep. John a lot less than myself. Poor thing…he is exhausted. His coughing during the night was unmanageable and he sat up periodically to clear his lungs of all the mucus build up or to adjust his back. Every position, every breath, just about everything is uncomfortable. We slept some of the morning and early afternoon and were completely fatigued. We drained later that afternoon and that is when his breath was seemingly knocked out of him. He was panting with short, shallow and quick breaths. It was all mid-drain and he turned to me and said, “I feel like I just got done running a marathon.” I quickly grabbed the oxygen mask that sits bedside and hooked it around his ears. I finished the drain, cleaned his wounds and called our hospice nurse, Robyn. She advised me to give him a few meds that would get everything under control as she came quickly to the house. All the while, John was completely calm. By the time she arrived, everything was back to normal. Remember, normal to John is not the normal we know. She even said it looks as though his breathing resembles that of an asthma patient. Even when he is in complete rest, he cannot seem to take deep sips of air. His voice is slowly going as well. I noticed today he was whispering a lot more rather than the cracked speech he has had this past week. On top of all this, his sister was not feeling well and ended up in the ER. She is fine now…thank goodness…but this day all in all felt terrible.
My heart is sad right now…it has been for quite a while now. It is not controlling this journey but rather a part of it. We must continue to try despite the looming sadness…we must continue to laugh…we must maintain our strength for him…we must keep fighting. Moreover, we must continue to take a minute and recognize our own breath...appreciate every inhale and every exhale…I know he does.