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shortness of breath

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As I write these words my son is in surgery for the second time in as any weeks.  During the first week of January, my son Kai, started noticing pains in his chest and some shortness of breath.  He phoned me one morning to say he was headed to the hospital just to be safe.  We both thought it was most likely a combination of some rib pain and anxiety.  Turned out though that he had a collapsed lung, otherwise known as a spontaneous pneumothorax. I was familiar with the term because in acupuncture school we learned how not to cause one when performing acupuncture on the trunk of the body. 

Turns out that being young, tall, and skinny makes you more susceptible to such a thing.  Who would have known.  The doctors and nurses did not seem surprised, but we sure were.  How often do any of us think about our lungs and the breaths we take – on average 22,000 times a day.  

For the past month Kai has been in and out of hospital, getting diagnosed, receiving treatment, receiving more treatment.  His Right lung it seems is a stubborn one.  I have been moved and impressed by his strength and courage.  At 23 he is already an advanced student of mindfulness.  Despite his challenges with anxiety he manages his emotions like a pro – feeling them, processing them, and then finding a way to be at peace with whatever is happening.  

The care has been extraordinary.  Makes me grateful for the healthcare we have, despite some of the challenges we face as a society in providing it.  There are some things I would like to see us all do better. Trauma informed care is still a concept that has not fully taken hold in the training and practice of physicians.  I can understand their need to distance themselves from the humanness of their work, and yet I do sometimes wish we could find a way to have more humanness, especially when it comes to providing news and information to patients. Telling someone they are lucky they didn’t die is not always a comforting thing to hear when you are feeling unwell and vulnerable.  

I’m not sure if I have any grand thought or idea to share with you as I write this, rather I just needed to get some of my thoughts and feelings down in writing.  I do think and feel that the concept of living day-to-day is still widely forgotten as we go about our daily lives, and yet one to be practiced in its fullness.  These past few weeks I have gone from hospital to clinic, back and fourth, with not much else in between.  Despite some fatigue I do feel a sense of presence and engagement with life that is otherwise often dulled by the daily routines of life.  I appreciate life more, and my family and friends.  I have a sense of the shortness of time and of the need to get on with living – no holding back.  I guess that is my message to you.