Whoa, Nellie…it’s like Linda was in my head this week when she picked this prompt which, I have to admit, was just a little freaky. No matter – at least I know exactly where to go from here.
I’ve been experiencing shortness of breath for a while, and this week I “enjoyed” (snarky font) participating in the Methacholine Challenge Test. This is a fancy name for “very long breathing test to check lung function.” Guess that name was already taken.
A real nice fella named JR met me at 8:00am to administer this. Normally I’d be at least minimally responsive at that hour, but I’d had to leave home really early and wasn’t allowed to drink any caffeine before the test so I was in a bit of a fog. (There may have been some quiet whimpering – “coffeeeee” – involved.)
Just a quick rundown. For the test you breath in and out through a mouthpiece so the computer can record all sorts of medicalish numbers. First you get a baseline, then you breathe in a dose of saline & repeat the test, then you start moving through the levels. They put a dose of histamine (yep, the thing I fight with ANTI-histimines) in the system and pump oxygen through it so you can breathe it into your lungs. Then they run two more breathing tests to check your lung capacity before increasing the methacholine dosage. (There won’t be a test at the end of the post…all of this is just to say there’s a lot of breathing involved in this process.)
But to get to my point (about time!). JR spends his days administering this thing. He can only do two a day because they can last upwards of two hours or more – mine was a two hour stint – so there’s only so many patients he can see.
What I found truly impressive, though, was that he never once seemed bored or rote or mechanical while in the room with me. Why is this impressive? Because an extraordinarily large part of his role included verbal directions for me, such as:
Okay, we need nice steady breathing, in and out, in and out, in and out…perfect, keep that rhythm…in and out, in and out – now take a big breath in and PUSH IT OUT, push it out push it out push it out push it out, keep on going, keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going keep going – and breathe in. Okay, take a break then we’ll go again.
So basically it was this, for almost two hours. My saving grace (if you want to look at it that way) is that my numbers tanked before I completed all the doses. There were three or four more levels I could have had to do if we hadn’t stopped, and let’s just say I’d had all the in and out I could take that morning.
You wouldn’t think of breathing as a difficult thing. I never used to, anyway. It came as naturally as…well…breathing. So I guess that simile didn’t really work out, but you get my gist. Being able to breathe was always a given, so the fact that I have to strain to push all the air out of my lungs has been an adjustment.
Happy breathing, everyone!
Linda’s weekly Stream of Consciousness prompt is open to one and all. Click the link to check out its rules and participating blogs. This week’s prompt was “in/out.”