Tag Archive | each breath is a miracle


Truly the best poundcake ever.

I’ve done it: I’ve reached my limit. I can’t upload anymore photographs without either deleting some older posts, or upgrading to a more expensive plan. I cannot make a decision about that now, and maybe not tomorrow, or even the next day. We’ll know more later.

What I do know today is that I’m grateful for Birgitt, the Nurse Practitioner at Delta Health Pulmonary. She spent well over an hour with me this afternoon, listening attentively, exploring options, and explaining what might be going on and what steps to take next. I have been diagnosed with moderate COPD, without much further explanation. How did I get this? Was it from being raised in a home filled with second-hand smoke from birth til eighteen? Was it from forty years of light pot smoking? Was it from living with particulates from thirty years of woodstove heating? Was it chronic bronchitis for a few years when I lived in Florida? Who knows? Maybe we’ll know more later.

Birgitt said she prefers not to do too many tests to examine the potential causes, but to look forward to investigate potential treatments and mitigations. My paraphrase. I’m on some sample inhalers to see if that improves things, and she drew blood for a CBC, and had a cheek swab to check for a genetic type of COPD. My neck was measured for an overnight sleep test at the hospital–I didn’t even wanna ask what that was about! And referrals were sent for the sleep test, and to a different oxygen company to see if we can finally get me night oxygen. I’m grateful for her kind and deep attention, and to finally have a short answer, and another advocate committed to helping my breath improve. I know that I need to be my best advocate, and get more exercise, and step up the daily pranayama practice. Time to knuckle down and take my health seriously again.

“Get your head out of the clouds,” as my mother would have said. How she laughed when my old friend Thelma told her I had such great common sense. I’m grateful that I’ve had the common sense to avoid Covid so far, knowing intuitively and physically that my lungs can’t afford that kind of infection. I’m grateful I have supportive friends who understand this, and now that I have this diagnosis, maybe a few more of them will finally get it that I just can’t get it. I’m grateful this arduous day is over and I can go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. Wishing you a good night’s sleep as well, and happy breathing.

Surviving the Day

Detail from “Yacht Race Off Boston Light,” James Edward Buttersworth c. 1880, Liberty puzzle.

It sounds melodramatic on the surface. Why wouldn’t I have survived the day? Why bother to be grateful for something so mundane? Yet this was the first day I’ve driven beyond Crawford since witnessing that shocking wreck on the highway. I passed the scene twice, on my way to Hotchkiss and back. I ran some quotidian errands–gasoline, picking up cat fud at the vet, a few groceries at City Market–and drove home. That’s all. But I was tense and anxious, not only because of the wreck, but the Covid risk of going about in a county that largely never believed in the virus in the first place, flouted the original mask mandate (down to the Sheriff’s department which became an instant hot spot), and has concluded that it’s through with Covid now whether or not Covid is through with it. In the past couple of weeks the county has recorded roughly 1.1 deaths a day from the virus.

We tend to assume, each morning that we rise alive, that today is just another day to spend like any other day, that we’ll make it through this day without dying; and that’s just ridiculous. Lots of people die every day, many of them without pre-existing conditions and without any warning. Shit happens. I’m learning to take nothing for granted. I was grateful to wake up alive again this morning, and I’m grateful for surviving the day. Each night I try to fall asleep with my pulse pounding in my neck. Tomorrow, I’ll be grateful to make it to the hospital (and back) for some tests to try to determine what this sensation is about, and pinpoint the cause of other strange symptoms as well.

Or at least rule out some icky options. As Francisco said, “When you know what it is, it’s just pain.” When you don’t know what it is, it can grow into a menacing monster. Driving from town this afternoon, the thought of home beckoned like a lighthouse, as it will again tomorrow. If I can only make it there, and back again to safe harbour, then I can finally relax; then I will be happy. Ha! Each day, each breath, a new adventure.


I’m grateful for my own breath, and for the breath of the forest. This morning, after a quarter inch of rain last night, we walked through the woods, and I chanced to turn and see backlit by the rising sun, the respiration of a juniper tree. Or so it seemed to me. With each exhalation the tree released a mist. I’m grateful to live at a pace where I am able to notice such quotidian natural phenomena, and grateful that my old dog makes sure I get out to walk early in the morning.

I’m grateful, too, that he make sure I get out and walk in the evening, when we go search for Mr. Turtell, which is what Stellar calls Biko. Find Turtell, I tell him, and he trots off ahead of me around the yarden perimeter. He almost always finds Biko on the first circuit, and gets rewarded with a handful of treats. Sometimes he’s a bit vague, and I encourage him, Show me! Then he will bounce on his front feet and bark, to make sure I know which sagebrush to look under.

I’m grateful after twenty years to have come to understand a bit of a tortoise mind; grateful to live with a keeper of slow time. Biko is like a sundial, reliably tucking in under a sagebrush or juniper where the last rays of light will fall in a day, and/or where the first will come in the morning. Over the years I’ve learned to look in certain places certain seasons. In a yard full of late afternoon shade, see how he has parked himself where he’ll get the longest, last rays of sun. My knowledge of his habits, and Stellar’s help, will be increasingly important over the next few weeks as temperatures approach Biko’s threshold. Tomorrow, the forecast is a low of 38℉, just below his tolerance of 40º. We’ll go for a turtle hunt around five, and bring him inside until morning. I’m grateful for the arrival of autumn, with its breath of fresh air.