I would start with line from a song. (But I couldn’t choose from the 76 songs just entitled “Breathe!”) Holy Cow, breathing easily and without labor is not something I take for granted anymore! Those who are on oxygen can sympathize.
I experienced oxygen, a ventilator, and I possessed a ‘wonderful’ trachea after the stroke. (Wonderful is a sarcastic term, but it did successfully keep me alive so I can’t totally dis that God-forsaken contraption.) I know what it’s like to struggle for every breath. The ventilator assisted me at first. While I was on oxygen and the trach, I was tethered to that cumbersome tank. Lines, tubes, tanks, machines. Seriously, it was a three-ring circus. Luckily, I had a few Respiratory Therapists who were gung ho and tapered me off quickly.
I had the trach (a hole in my neck with pipey-tube stuck in it) for four and a half months, and I prayed the incessant coughing would just stop. With a trach, I followed an approximately twenty minute cycle of clear and smooth breathing to increasingly mucused clogged, making the intake of oxygen difficult to impossible until I would either cough it out or, at the worst, I called them to manually clear it out. I would wait for help while fighting to draw in air. (Ughhh! Not a pleasant process! Not to mention the strap choking you to keep it on!)
When the clueless doctor told me near the first of December, (in 2016,) I would have it many more months. He triggered my stubborn obstinance. (I couldn’t speak with it, but the actual words on my lips were, “Baloney!”) From that day on, I self-started the ‘Trial,’ which meant I was required to wear it totally capped shut for three days with no clearing or any assistance. (Not an easy task!) If I could successfully do that, they would yank it out. You forget how to breathe by yourself when you have a piece of plastic helping for months. About a day into wearing a cap, completely closing the airway, frequently coughing it off, and shooting it across the room, the Therapist said, “Oh, you are serious about this!” She told me there was a trach cap that screwed on. (Thanks for that!) She officially started the ‘Trial.’ So really, I endured five days with the weekend. It was not a walk in park, but I was going to prove that doc wrong. Sometimes I came close to quitting and giving up, but I was h—-bent on getting it removed and returning to a facility near home before Christmas. When they did remove it they covered it with a bandage, and I would have to hold it or the bandage would raise up and down. I felt like a frog!
Now, about a year and a half later, my breathing is quite normal, but a bit on the shallow side. Every so often I take a huge catch-up breath. It sounds like I’m sighing. (I am not exasperated or bored. I’m just taking a big breath. Sometimes it might be mid-sentence. That can be awkward.) I must be careful when I eat, and occasionally I cough for no reason. (I suspect it’s due to a trach scar inside my throat.)
Therefore, every breath I take is appreciated. It’s a blessing from my Heavenly Father. My friend calls the trach scar an ‘Angel Kiss.’ I think she’s right.