On the Challenges to Breath


So, two hours of wandering around the streets of the Timog area on tax-related errands earlier this week exacted an unwelcome toll: an attack of asthma after several months without a single bout.

Asthma is a peculiarly unpleasant condition because it affects that most indispensable of faculties: the breath. As a child, I’d cry piteously between labored gasps (using whatever sobs I could wrest from residual air) telling my parents that “an elephant [was] sitting on my chest.” They tried all kinds of treatments in those years, from hooking me up to a nebulizer to having me drink the water left over from boiling eucalyptus leaves (a cure almost as bad as the disease). That propensity for running out of oxygen, combined with radical nearsightedness and an almost complete absence of hand-eye coordination made me a most ineffectual athlete.

Now, some two decades later, with my respiratory capacity and condition vastly improved by yoga, I can keep my inhaler in the closet for months without taking a single puff. But every so often, I’ll push myself just a little too hard, and that childhood elephant will come back to sit on my chest. Right now, it’s perched a little delicately on the lower right region of my lung, waiting for an excuse to stamp down full force. While it’s tempting to rely on the steroids to drive it away, I get that it’s presence is a reminder that I really (really) do need to take a break.

This is me finally giving in.

Sigh.

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