Phlegm

Just leaving the mucus thickened woods. Developed a reasonably severe viral bronchitis this week. Coughing fits lasted all day and all night for the first couple of days, painful, forceful and completely unproductive. What came out was the consistency of glue or thick spiderweb. Eventually down to 2 fits lasting several hours a day, more and more productive. Afraid I might cough myself into pure exhaustion and give up the ghost. As a child, when this would happen it would invariably develop into something worse and long lasting. The anxious connection not lost on me.

Deep breathing when impaired. I couldn't help but remember Bob, a student of mine from one of the retirement communities where I taught Qi-Gong in Maryland. Bob was 88, had chronic bronchitis, not emphysema, COPD. He was in the hospital for about 2 weeks during my tenure. I missed him and worried. I started every class with a slow and directed series of deep breaths, working their way up from the belly, through the ribs, then up to the chest and back out just as slow. During this part of class, Bob would often cough into a stained handkerchief that would appear and disappear into a pocket in his shirt. 2 weeks later Bob comes back to class. 

"Before we start Chris, I have to tell you something. I used to think this breathing stuff we did was all bullshit. I was getting really bad, went into a tailspin at the hospital, then I started breathing slowly and deeply like you teach us, [tears in his eyes now] and I think it's what pulled me out of it. Thank you for this."

2 days into my illness I propped some pillows up and leaned back to open my chest and breathed as deeply and slowly as I could. The next morning my cough started producing. In my youth: Pneumonia. In my adulthood: deep breathing. Thanks, Bob!