Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Grateful for the Air in my Lungs

For the past several years, the common cold has been increasingly common for me -- that is, it is always the same thing.

It starts with a sudden wave of exhaustion. I usually find myself crashing on the sofa for several hours, too tired to move until I'm moving my body into bed. By the time I wake up the next morning, my throat is sore. That eventually develops into a stuffy, runny nose that lasts for a few days and ultimately progresses into a cough.

The cough is the big problem. I apparently have some form of Reactive Airway Disease, my doctors tell me. The normal cough at the end of my common cold irritates and inflames the lining of my lungs, so that long past what would be the natural end of that cold, I still experience asthma-like symptoms: difficulty breathing and a horrible, hacking, miserable cough that lasts two or three weeks at least and brings me completely to the end of myself. I always end up in the doctor's office getting scads of medication trying desperately to get it to stop.

This past round (last spring, I believe), the doctor loaded me up with two different types of inhalers, a super-strong cough suppressant, and . . . some other pill that I don't remember what it was for. He instructed me, next time I have the beginnings of a cold, to start immediately bombarding it with all this stuff -- the hope is to prevent my lungs from ever getting inflamed in the first place so we don't have to fight the seemingly hopeless fight of calming them down.

So, I have all these meds in my cabinet, and I've been bracing myself for months. Now that I'm in a school again, I figured I'd be surrounded by germs and would be fighting a plethora of illnesses all year.

But that hasn't happened. I'm still waiting for my first cold. It's been teasing me . . . I've had many days of feeling what felt like minor symptoms starting to creep in. My daughters have both had colds, and I assumed mine was next. But I'm now over five months into a school year with no real illness of any kind.

When I go to bed at night and pray, I've found myself taking deep breaths . . . and feeling such genuine, heart-felt gratitude. For clear lungs. For open sinuses. For that fabulous feeling of air flowing through my nostrils and filling up my lungs with ease and slowly flowing out again. For being able to breathe. I still know that another cold is coming (for all I know, it may hit later today), and so I am genuinely praising God these days for every hour I have air flowing easily in and out of my body. It feels so wonderful to breathe!! And it feels so wonderful to be thankful for breathing.

It feels so wonderful to be thankful. I think I need to be more intentional about being thankful for the obvious things in my life. Being thankful for them now feels so much better than being angry when they are denied me later. It's not like God owes me anything anyway -- not even breath in my lungs.

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