To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

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Last night in hospital.

One week into the new year and I’ve already managed to gain a trip to the hospital via ambulance yesterday! Not what I was expecting for a Tuesday afternoon. I am off work today under the advice of the paramedics and doctors. A painful and poorly two weeks have passed where it was clear that either I was becoming ill or that I was patently run down. I have been having mild asthma attacks over the holiday but nothing so worrying that a doctor would be needed. However, since Sunday and after two nights without sleep, it was obvious that something was not quite right. 

Yesterday at work, around lunchtime, I noticed my chest had tightened so much that even standing up from my seat felt like a chore. My face had become slightly bloated and most frighteningly, the Asthma medication that I use to relieve any pain was not working. There was no relief. 

I left work early and made my way home. I called my mother on my way. It is safer to not be alone in these circumstances. Luckily, she was there and waited for my arrival. As soon as I entered the front door, my mother was alarmed. To her, I looked awful. I was finding it hard to string a full sentence together. She knew what to do. The doctors’ surgery wouldn’t give us an early appointment and in all honesty, I felt like I had to convince them of how ill I actually was. Not something you should have to go through when you can barely breathe. My mum called an Ambulance. It was too big of a risk to leave it.

They came immediately and quickly put me at ease. 

The paramedics were angels. They are amazing people who probably aren’t acknowledged enough for the job they do. With an oxygen tank beside me and a mask over my mouth, the medication quickly soothed my aching and wheezy chest. I felt calmer too as the paramedics joked with me. My chest opened up and I began to feel slightly normal again.

We all take breathing for granted. Such a basic thing we do day to day. Yet without the ability to breathe, life would not exist. Many people do not understand that Asthma is a life-threatening condition. The paramedic described it well. Imagine breathing underwater: no mask, no oxygen, just you, stuck underwater for hours and struggling to breathe, struggling to get your head above water. That is what it feels like inside an Asthma sufferer’s body during an attack. It is fiercely dangerous, and although we may look fine, we are not necessarily okay. Believe us when we say something is wrong. Some of the deadliest diseases and conditions are ones that lie silently and hide themselves well.

I was taken to hospital to be checked over. After four hours, my ordeal was over and I was welcomed home by my worried husband. My chest remains tight today. I have a dry cough that ends with a melodic wheeze. It is still difficult to breathe hence my choice to listen to the professionals and stay at home today. Hopefully, with the help of antibiotics, it’ll sort itself out by tonight. 

I wake up every day and I think, ‘I’m breathing! It’s a good day.’
Eve Ensler 

2013 A review: April – June.

APRIL

This month saw many entries on WordPress taken from old journals and diaries I had discovered from the abuser’s home. I looked back on several noted incidents that affected me in some way. I began revealing much more about my father. Not only what he did to me but how he lived his own life, the values he followed and the life choices he made.

April was the first month that I displayed a photograph taken from my father’s house (Post: And he called me “dirty”! April 17th) It showed the awful way in which we both lived. A way that I hated but it was out of my control. My father put many demands and outrageous expectations on me over the years and this photo was just a small example of his control. The five bedroom house was far too much for one person to look after. Especially a young woman with a full time job, friends and a life. I wasn’t allowed “excuses”. I wasn’t allowed a life. My life was indebted to him. I “owed” him for having a life.

On the 20th, I suffered from a severe Asthma attack where I was taken to the emergency room by my neighbour. I received a lot of support and well wishes from the WordPress community. It surprised and moved me that strangers all over the world showed such kindness to someone they had never met. I was not used to that. Thank you.

MAY

May was a busy month for me. In my general life and on WordPress. It was the first time I shared my poetry on my blog with “Control me”, a piece I wrote during the years of severe abuse.

On the 20th on May, I travelled to Madrid, Spain for a five day trip with three of my colleagues and twelve children from work. It was an experience to say the least! I am thrilled to have done it. To be trusted by my superiors and given that responsibility is something I will treasure. The laughs we shared will be remembered forever. It really was a once in a lifetime sort of thing.

The weekend I returned was that of my one year wedding anniversary with David. Although the wedding day itself holds some upsetting memories (a day that I still can’t bring myself to fully blog about with reasons that no one bar David seem to comprehend), it is always going to be the moment I pledged my love and trust to my devoted husband David and that is main reason why our anniversary will be special for the rest of our lives. I wrote you a letter David on our anniversary this year. Here is to many more my love.

The biggest moment of May was when I made the risky decision to “out” some very spiteful girls. Four to be exact as I began a series of posts retelling the story of their betrayals. C & C, H and N were subject to the truth finally coming out. I received many responses to the series. Old school friends and colleagues who understood whom I was referring to offered their support and agreement. Their thoughts were very welcome. However, I did receive one negative comment from a supporter and friend of N. She threatened legal action at my accusations. All I said was the truth. I did not use names, nor did I say exactly where we had known each other from. N’s friend only landed N in it, she basically announced to the world of Facebook who N actually was. She was the one who broke the rules. Her anger embarrassed her and surprisingly, many of our peers from that time spoke out in support for me. She never followed through with her threats.

A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
Thomas Jefferson

JUNE

June was a pretty easy month. The weather began to dramatically improve in England and Summer seemed to be fast approaching. I blogged seventeen times this month.

Deliberate Donkey a woman’s story about her journey through domestic violence, generously re-blogged my work. It would be the first time someone had referred to my abuser as a “sociopath” after reading my story. It was a term I began to explore.

http://deliberatedonkey.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/guest-post-freefromhim/

(Scroll up to top of page when opened)

Wednesday 18th July 2012 – The phone call.

My father called me that afternoon as I made my way to meet a friend for dinner. It was two days since we had last spoken and I was wary when answering the phone. We were not back to having regular contact and I was worried that getting in touch on the 16th was the wrong decision.

As I was on the bus, he told me he had been rushed to hospital the previous night. My heart sank. My memories of him being in hospital had never been good. I began to worry of what he may expect from me.

He said it was serious and again my heart dropped. Now I had to deal with the fact that it wasn’t a prostate problem or a torn ligament, my father may actually be seriously ill. It was a lot to take in so quickly. The doctors at the hospital, after numerous tests, had come to the conclusion that his suffering was either Tuberculosis or Lung Cancer. Both sounded horrific and both petrified me. More tests were needed to determine what it actually was. As I took in the magnitude of the situation, I asked him how he got to the hospital. He explained how he had called an ambulance in the night when realising he could not breathe.

I could not believe it. Three years back when I had my Asthma attack, he refused to call me an ambulance! My life was clearly not as important as his.

He began listing orders:

  • I was to come the next day and bring him a set of clothes including underwear
  • He needed all his bank cards
  • I had to bring his mobile phone
  • David or I needed to check the house to make sure it was okay.

Many other things were said but I had stopped listening. I did not want this role he was forcing on me. I had not talked to him for two weeks because he had told me never to speak to him again. He condemned me as a daughter and now he expected me to take care of him and the house, that it all gets forgotten just because he is ill. Is that selfish? Is that evil? Yes, it probably is but I was working so hard to break free, to cut all the emotional ties and feel secure and strong. This was the worst thing that could’ve happened.

I told him it would be impossible to come the next day. He said he would’ve asked my sister but she wouldn’t return from Norfolk until Friday. I had to do it. Of course, I wasn’t surprised she knew his state before me. I barely knew anything about my father any more. I reminded him that I had a job to do and that it was a very important week at work. He muttered angrily down the phone, scolding me for being so insensitive. I told him I would come on Friday too as I was working a half day. It was just about enough to pacify him.