Saturday, May 14, 2011

I used an inhaler

Never Done: I used an inhaler

I had a long day. Meetings, meetings, setting up meetings. Editing, writing, reading. Sore tooth, sore lungs, fragile soul.

And amidst all that, I managed to make it to my acupuncture session. I was 15 minutes late, but I made it. I'm never sure which practitioner I'm going to get (it's a community acupuncture practice so I get seen by whichever of five practitioners is there when I had time in my schedule) and I've had excellent experiences with everyone there, with one slight caveat. I say slight, because the person who I found to be a little rough with the needles has a brilliant, funny, open, exuberant personality that I find incredibly refreshing in the solemnity of eastern medicine. She was there.

I told her what's going on with my lungs, and I told her I feel embarrassed and fragile about it, but also that whatever's going on, I seem to be ready to deal with it. I told her I had noticed that after they took my pulses, that they always ask me how my lungs are, and that I don't know why I always minimized how they really felt. So she took my pulses, and she said that yes, they're weak (the pulses, not the lungs -- but maybe both?)

When she started putting needles in, the first couple were OK, and then one of them hurt a lot -- in a deep and unsettling way. She took it right out, but I was shaken. She was careful as she proceeded, and then asked if she could put needles on these spots on my shoulders where I've had them before. I didn't see why not, and she explained something to me about what they were for, but since she was also making paper sounds from unwrapping the needle, I didn't hear what she said. I often don't hear what people say (I've had hearing loss since I was born) and so I just figured I'd ask later.

But when she put the needle in my left shoulder, about ten things happened at once. My muscle seized around it, something felt like it broke open up and down my back, and I started to shake and cry. I knew that was OK -- good even -- but I was also two feet away from another patient who was in the lie-there-and-relax phase of her treatment. My practitioner told me not to worry about the other woman. I tried not to, but I couldn't completely not worry about her. I mean, my body was ready for a full-on sob. You know, the kind that makes a lot of noise. Plus, I was gasping for breath, so I'm sure I sounded loud, upset, and unable to breathe. If that was happening 2 feet from me, I think I would have trouble relaxing.

I struggled with it the whole time, wondering if I should really do what my practitioner was saying and just not worry about the other person, and just let it all out. But the Mussar practice encourages us to balance my needs against (my perception of) the needs of another, and so I let my body do what it needed to, but as quietly as possible.

I stayed in an emotionally and physically tenuous place the rest of the day, but I also had a lot of work to get done. So again, I played a balancing game between my needs and the needs of others. If I could have, I would have just gone to sleep in the afternoon, but instead I bundled up in fleece, and cranked through work, until it was time to go to a lovely picnic in the park with Mich and friends.

Mich had promised to bring home a peak flow meter, to measure my ability to blow out air, to help determine what might be happening in my lungs. She also had an Albuterol inhaler for me to try. We joked about doing the peak flow as a party game, but in the end, we waited til we got back to her apartment and did it in private. She had me try the peak flow three times, and the highest of the three times, I scored (I know, I know, it's not a competition) 350 on this chart, which says that 410 would be "normal" for my height and age. 350 is 83% of normal, which according to another chart, tells me that if I do in fact have asthma, it is not in any sort of danger zone.

Then I tried using the inhaler, which reminded me a lot of inhaling helium at Emily's party a couple weeks ago, except that it didn't make my voice sound funny, and I forgot to say the Shehekianu after the Albuterol. But really, after a lifetime of not inhaling any gasses (other than New York City environmental gasses, which might be what got me into this mess in the first place) into my lungs, I've recently inhaled two -- and neither of them were as freaky as I thought they might be. With the inhaler, I didn't notice an earth shattering difference, but I did notice that my chest loosened up and relaxed a little. It wasn't a magic cure, but it was something, and it was a great comfort to try it out under Mich's knowledgeable eye.

I don't know what Big Path I've started down, but as long as I've started inhaling things, I think I should catch up with the (15 years ago) times, and go to an oxygen bar. Or Vermont. Let me know if you want to come.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Jenny, you so described that so well that I was there with you. These bodies of ours sometimes have ways of speaking for themselves, or for us; they yearn to cry out for us, to release our feelings for us, sometimes when our hearts don't seem quite ready to experience the exigencies of life.

    Love that the inhaler provided some relief -- and that you are so close to normal! I don't feel remotely close to normal most of the time. ;-)

    Both David and Brett had asthma, btw,and in both cases it eventually went away. Again, our bodies seeming to have minds of their own...sometimes in a good way.

    Lots of love,
    Oh, and would I ever love to go to Vermont with you! Would that I could...