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! 

I guess if breathing means that much – you’ll do anything.

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.

Don’t take your breaths for granted.

Lucky Blessing #5 – Independence 

Lucky Blessing Challenge #5- A Lucky Blessing is Independence. 

After my stroke I was tethered to oxygen, a PEG tube for feeding, a PIC line for constant IV’s, and a tracheostomy, a thing in my neck for breathing. I was also extremely weak from it all. The first thing to go was the PIC under my left arm. It was very inconvenient. I had to wear a cap on the trach, rendering it useless, for three days before they would remove it. I started a few weeks before Christmas (I wasn’t waiting around for them any longer.) I wore the cap for a day, when they realized I was serious about starting “the trial.” Every time I coughed (so sick of that) I blew the cap across the room! They told me about the kind that screwed on. Thanks. “The trial” ended on a Sunday. So I had to wait another day for the doctor to pull it out. (My friend called the scar an Angel Kiss!) At the same time, they tapered me off the oxygen. (So glad I don’t have to drag that around anymore.) I started with a feeding tube in my nose! It was tethered between my nostrils and would get pulled upon as they helped me. (Thanks!) Then I had one placed in front on my waist. (Not a great place!) Just the other day I had it removed. They just pulled it out! I was waiting for more, but they said I was done. (Finally!) “I’ve got no strings to hold me down, to make me fret, to make me frown.” 
All these tubes and apparatus have taught me to appreciate the freedom that good health gives you. (If you have tubes, I feel ya!) I took for granted the ability to walk, talk and move around as I wished. I still can’t do a lot of things like walking and dressing alone, I now really appreciate those things. (I’ve had to resist the urge to jump out of bed many times!) Don’t underestimate your power to do… everything. Think about it. Thank God everyday for your basic abilities and independence to go and do. “Live each day to the fullest, you just never know.”