Proof Of Life

“We Accept The Reality Of The World With Which We’re Presented. It’s As Simple As That.” Truman Burbank

Photo credit, by Cheryl Oreglia

I’ve been struggling to breathe for months. It’s as if I’m suffocating from the inside out.

How do you tell if something is alive? You check for breathing. 

It’s the first indicator of life. 

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say feeling tired, lethargic, and breathless totally sucks.

My husband is not humored by my 6:30 pm bedtime, late-night coughing attacks, and constant wheezing. Not that you asked, but he’s been a little testy. 

I don’t blame him, I’m sick of me too. 

All this hampered breathing makes me think of my Mom, and how she struggled for every breath as she neared the end. Naturally, I start imagining my own death. It’s morbid and I can’t help myself.

Mediocre fatalistic tendencies have never been my life’s aspiration. I was aiming for proficient.

Why is it when we don’t feel good it’s as if we can’t imagine ever feeling good again? In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was able to take a deep breath without hacking up a lung! 

It’s as if I’m suffocating under the weight of something heavy? Or maybe I just need to chill out like a few of my readers advised? 

I really should be on someone’s couch with a box of tissues in my lap. 

I can hear your collective thoughts, “and no, it’s not COVID.” I have a slew of negative tests and besides asthma has been a lifelong companion of mine. It’s usually dormant, I haven’t given it a second thought for decades, but recently as if Britney Spears, it made an unexpected comeback.

I have no idea why? It’s as if Truman’s little rain cloud is following me around (if you’re not a boomer you might not know this movie reference *). 

Here I am ready to enjoy retirement when this unwelcome condition takes up residence in my lungs and refuses to relocate. I’ve shamed it, ridiculed its tenacious nature, even offered it a relocation package with a respectable nose spray. 

Stubborn bastard. 

Of course, I googled all my symptoms and decided I was either in the final stages of heart failure or as my sister has been saying for months, “you need to replace the carpet in your room because it’s killing you.” She could be right. 

She’s always right. Shit.

I say to Larry, “Honey, I think I’m dying.”

Larry says, “wait until we get back from Portugal.” [When I return from Boston/Florida we’re heading to Portugal to see our son]

“That’s not very sympathetic.”

“Not my skill set.”

“What a shocker.”

“You’ve been complaining about this for months. Go see a doctor.”

“I don’t like doctors. They’ll want blood. And they’re ruthless about flu shots.”

“You should ask for an EKG.”

“Is my DNR up to date?”

“You’re being a little dramatic.”

“I know, very unusual.”

Secretly, I’m planning on donating my ears to Larry. Bahaha

Under extreme duress, I make an appointment with the doctor, before I work up some lame excuse and change my mind. I’m not a fan of doctors, especially ones that want urine, blood, or biopsies. No offense Mike. I’m sure you’re not the needy type. 

But I’m heading to the east coast tomorrow to help Kelley pack up her life in Boston and then hopping over to Marco Island in Florida to spend some time with my dear friend Christine who is learning to breathe again after several difficult years. How Ironic?

After I return from the east coast, we’re visiting Tony and Thalita in Lisbon, that alone should keep me alive.

If not, I’ll donate my body to medical science. 

I’d be an anomaly at the very least. How does one die after completing two back-to-back fifty-mile bike rides? 

My appointment is set for the morning after my return from Boston/Florida. I don’t land until 1:00 am so this is going to be challenging for someone in the final stages of heart failure. 

The universe has a cruel sense of humor don’t you think? As Ted Lasso says, “If that’s a joke, I love it. If not, can’t wait to unpack that with you later.”

Within the span of eight days, my toes touched both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s been an emotional week. Boxing up one life, opening up another. 

I have experience with closing chapters and starting with a blank page but it’s never an easy transition and often I’m at a loss for words. Imagine? 

I saw this on the internet and thought it was worth repeating. Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it. That’s what I’m talking about.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes claims Marcel Proust. Helping Kelley pack up her life allowed me to see how our things have locational meaning, seasonal usage, and often they become a measure of time. 

Kelley weeded out furniture, sporting equipment, dishes, clothes, shoes, purses, and rugs that are no longer a good fit and will not be accompanying her into the next chapter. 

It made me realize how I hang on to things far longer than I should (including illnesses).

I suppose the act of keeping things you no longer need represents an aspect of the self that doesn’t want to move on. That beautifully sums up my entire life. I DON’T LIKE CHANGE. Let’s move on. 

In between packing, Kelley and I enjoyed a spot of tea at the Four Seasons. Isn’t that telling? We meandered through the Isabel Gardner museum, spent an evening restaurant hopping, enjoying specialty wines, distinctive dishes, and that unforgettable Boston ambiance. 

Tim took us out to an incredible dinner at the local steak house one night. We had to walk four blocks to get to the restaurant in the middle of a blizzard. March in Boston. Travel at your own risk.

When I landed in LaLa land, on Marco Island, in Florida, I was floored by the hordes of tanned, facelifted, well-seasoned people. The snowbirds have migrated and they are nesting everywhere. 

Chris and I walked every morning, spent hours catching up on our lives, enjoyed a few good meals out but my favorite thing was watching the sunset every evening from her patio sipping wine, savoring our time together. Traveling to see a friend is a rare treat these days. 

So after a full and absorbing week, I headed home, still wheezing, coughing, and struggling to breathe. My seatmates on the airline were thrilled.

My husband showed up at the airport with a rose. Could that be a sign? 

I’m either dying or he missed me? 

Yeah, that’s what I thought too. 

After what felt like three hours of restless sleep I was up, showered, and heading to the doctor. I totally nailed it. She wanted it all. Height, weight, blood, urine, X-ray, EKG, and other unmentionables. My blood pressure was alarmingly high, go figure?

She said, “you’ve been aggressively trying to deal with your symptoms, I commend your efforts, but I’m going to medicate your asthma, and I’m sure you’ll feel much better.”

Me, “Well you have to admit my regime was creative.”

“And highly ineffective.”

“So I’m not dying of heart failure?”

“No, but I can see you haven’t been able to take a deep breath for a while.”

“Could be why I’m so dizzy.”

“Most likely, but let’s see what the blood tests reveal.”

I started on her medication two days ago. TWO DAYS AGO.

Now I’m more than willing to admit when I’m wrong. I WAS SO WRONG. You can not believe the difference a day can make when properly medicated. 

I am breathing with such ease I feel as if I could run a marathon (okay, maybe a 5K). No coughing, no wheezing, no sitting up all night, no toddler bedtime, no intricate ritual of ineffective concoctions every few hours.

I feel like a brand new woman. Thank God, because I have only a few days to wash and repack before we leave for Portugal.

Unbelievable.

I love doctors. 

*The Truman Show was a movie that came out in the late 90s about a corporation that adopts a baby who grows up on a gigantic studio set but he doesn’t realize he’s a reality show that millions of people watched daily. 

I’m Living and breathing in the Gap, bursting with energy. I’d love to hear about your week! Join me in the comments. 

43 Comments

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  1. You have such a fun sense of humor in your posts. This post left me a little breathless also and happy that ended with you feeling much better. I missed a transition somewhere in the middle I think from when you were leaving and suddenly you are there. Florida sounds beautiful and that medication would have made those walks even easier. You and your hubby have the best talks – he gets you !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David! Thanks for your kind words. It’s so strange, when I’m writing I have this erroneous opinion that everyone understands what I’m thinking. I went back to the post and added a few notes because reading it again I can totally see where I lost you! I have two trips planned back to back, a little confusing, but I’m thrilled to be breathing normally again! And yes, that adorable man really gets me! Hugs, C

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      1. I totally got it! It also save me the trouble of asking how everything went. Glad you got and caught a break and gave up trying to be Superwoman, at least for a while!

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  2. I’m glad you’re feeling better. As the mother of a child with asthma, I understand what you were going through. I spent countless nights hovering over my son’s crib or bed, making sure he was breathing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine how difficult it would be dealing with an infant who has astha! I had it as a kid but very rarely and it only lasted a few days. This time it lingered for months. I’m thrilled to be breathing again! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had a few trips to ER in the middle of the night. Three days before my scheduled C section for my second child, my son had his worst asthma attack. I took him to our doctor and he called the hospital and told me to go straight in, don’t stop for check in. The staff put me in a wheelchair and thought I was there to deliver my baby! I spent the weekend in the hospital with my son and then had the C-section.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh my, that’s a story for the blog! I would love every nitty, gritty detail! I would have been a total wreak! Here you are, ready to deliver, and your little one is deathly sick! And they think you’re the patient instead of your son! Big Snafu! Unbelievable what we’ll endure for the sake of our children! You are one heroic Mom! 💕C

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      1. I think I might be related to Larry but I hope and pray you’re not related to my ex.

        He didn’t like going to doctors either but finally went after he almost passed out at our daughter’s wedding and that came only following a lot of sturm und drang, mostly on his part because I wasn’t taking care of him. That was really the beginning of the end of our marriage. I gave up trying to help him. He wouldn’t help himself except by self-medicating with bottles of Nyquil and threatening not to see the one and only doctor he would allow to treat him if I confessed that HE, my idiot ex, was an alcoholic who had been in rehab early in our marriage but also wanted to deal with that without help now.

        Sorry to take this opportunity to vent/dump here but I’m so gratified to learn that you’re not an idiot like my ex and you do listen to your loving spouse and give up trying to medicate yourself before it’s too late. I do wonder about those 50 mile bike rides though. Can’t Larry be satisfied with only 25?

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  3. Cheryl, you retired from work, and remodelled your house. And all the time the pandemic was raging. Asthma can be exacerbated by stress, so don’t discount all that ‘hidden stress’ involved in major life changes.

    Remember, you live an enviable life. Travel, domestic and foreign, a good family, a nice home, and a second home too. For many of us, your life is to be envied, and seen to be rather luxurious.So when you feel that stress, rmember how good life is for you.

    And that Larry brought you a rose to the airport. He’s a keeper, as you already know.

    As you fly over Britain on your way to sunny Portugal, wave to me out of the plane window.
    Then eat some fresh-caught Sardines for me, washed down with come deep-red Dao wine, followed by a very big glass of port.

    Best wishes as always, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, I found your comment in the spam folder after you alerted me via email? You’ve been commenting on my blog for years and suddenly you’re spam? Outrageous! I think WP is messing with you? Now that you’ve recounted the major life changing events of the last few months, you’re right, it’s been good but stressful. It appears there is always a lot going on in my life but I did have 4 kids! My bad. I do remain incredibly grateful that I can drop everything and fly to Boston when my daughter needs me or slip off to Florida after my dear friend’s husband passed away. I appreciate the reminder to pause and recognize my blessings. It is a good life and I’m ever so thankful especially for the renewed ability to take a deep breathe. I will be waving to you from above Pete, munching on fresh sardines, slugging down that deep-red Dao wine! Hugs, C

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  4. And the beat goes on 🎶🎵🎶 the beat goes on.
    Lungs and Aortas keep pounding a rhythmic flow of blood to the brain 🎵🎶🎵 La de da de de, la de da de da 🎵🎶🎵
    Clearly, ‘Stubborn is as Stubborn does’ neighbor. . .
    So happy you surmounted the courage to face down white coat fever.

    Pax Christi,
    CT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chris, I am amazed at the difference between my solution to clearing blocked airways and the doctors. What the hell? I promise never to play doctor again! Bahaha! And by the way, the ability to breathe is not to be taken lightly! La de da de de, la de da de da! Let the beat go on…hugs, C

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    1. Oh thank God I’m not alone Kathy! As you can see, “navigating change” can be a stretch for me! By the way my gifts came today! Fabulous! Thank you, what a generous and fun package! I can’t wait to try some of the goodies out! Grateful! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You touch on so many topics! Wow! I am in great health and try to keep my husband centered with his medical concerns. I am grateful that in our 20’s 30’s 40’s we travelled to some interesting continents in a whole other life. Now, we slow down and that is okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cupcake, it’s all about our health, without it nothing else is possible! I got that message loud and clear over the last few months! Larry and I had lots of plans before COVID hit and we had to put everything on hold. Now we’re ready! There’s a small window of opportunity between retirement and when we’ll need to “slow down” as you say and we’re planning to utilize our time. Your husband is lucky to have your focus and assistance on his health! Hugs to you and yours, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. C, oh my! I have to admit that the beginning of this piece made me sad. Yes, you still make me giggle, BUT I was worried!!! My youngest son had exercise-induced asthma for several years and I’ll not forget the trips to the E.R.! The knowledge of you completing your huge bike rides did make me think the worst at first ~and I was shouting in my head, “C, please go to the doctor!!!” Isn’t breathing the best thing you’ve ever experienced? 🙃🤗💛🙌🏻 I’ll be thinking and praying for you both on your trip to Portugal! How amazing! As always, I love your style of writing and the humor and humility you share through your awesome self! Sending mucho love and hugs! ♥️♥️💛❤️🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karla, I hope you’re feeling better, I’ve been holding you in prayer as you heal from your bout with COVID. Today is catch up day for me! I rarely go back and check old posts but I’m glad I did today, I missed so many comments while I was traveling. Thank you for your kindness and concern. I’ve been doing so well since I’ve been on the medication the doctor gave me. It’s a miracle in my opinion! I hope your son grew out of his condition? They say asthma severity can come and go with age? Maybe I’ll grow out of it in my 70’s! Thanks again, love you, XXOO, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! Jay did grow out of his! I hope you do, too! I love having these conversations with you. Your prayers are so appreciated. I’m winning! I’m glad you are too! Love you! Xoxo

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    1. Hi Leigh, yes it was a world wind tour and I missed so many comments! I’m just catching up today and I am still ever so grateful that I can breathe so easily. Thanks for your kind wishes, hugs and love coming your way, xxoo, C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow!
    She’s back! I have to say I missed your weekly post, though I understand I am partly to blame for your absence.
    Really bummed to hear about your breathing troubles. It’s a miracle you survived your cycling adventures, but I understand (“she‘s not pedaling.”) 😉 Most people don’t appreciate how horrible it is to die slowly from respiratory failure. One of the many things that made the Covid Pandemic miserable for ICU workers.
    Glad you are better, thanks to your doctor and modern medicine. And yes, I am not the needy type, though Gail may beg to differ. As far as blood, urine and biopsies go, guilty as charged.
    Thanks for writing again. Stay well. Have fun in Portugal. See you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike, long time no see! Today I thought I would go back and check on a few of my old posts, see if I missed a comments or two! I missed like 50 and now I feel horrible about it. I’ve been responding to comments all morning. I had to reread the blog to remember how horrible it was not to be able to breathe, how I avoided going to the doctors, and how miraculous it was when the medicine actually worked. I’m ever so grateful for modern medicine and my new doctor. She’s actually really cool, like you Mike, and although she’s demanding, she makes good use of my blood, urine, and biopsies. A women that knows her shit! Well, I hope you’ve had time to unpack our little weekend in Branson and are basking in the memories like me! Hugs, Cheryl

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  8. I have to say, I avoid doctors as much as possible too! They are needy!!
    Glad to hear that modern medicine came though for you this time.
    We are looking forward to hearing about your Portugal adventures.
    Be well and safe travels
    Gail

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail, it’s funny, because you asked me about responding to comments on the blog this weekend and I said “oh yes, I try and respond to everyone.” And then I decided to go back and check on old posts just in case I missed a few. Well I missed like 50 comments! How did that happen? Well I got my breath back and now I’m having too much fun! Miss you two already, thinking about our next adventure and where we’ll land! Love you, Cheryl

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