music painter

It was a hot evening in September — maybe the hottest one all summer. I needed to sleep and had no air conditioner besides a little fan. With the window open and the fan pulling the breath of evening into my room, I felt a slight motion of warm air on my face. I soon fell asleep. The fan ran all night until 7:00 am and I awoke with a sore throat. I arose trying to guess why nature would punish me for catching a beautiful September nod off. My guess is that the fan sucked in some bacteria from across the yard.

Obviously my first lesson is not to sleep with a fan in a window pointed at me.

Staving off bronchitis

I rapidly developed a cough. I was tired and later had trouble catching my breath. I would cough very loud with a dry heave. There were a few nights I couldn't sleep and after that I decided I'd see a doctor. My family physician was booked up for seven days, so luckily I was able to get to a nearby walk-in clinic where I saw a doctor right away. For many seniors who live alone without any transportation getting to a doctor could involve some effort and expense. Otherwise, for some an infection like this could become so difficult that calling 911 might be the only alternative. I was diagnosed with bronchitis, and that was the second similar infection I've had in less than a year. Although I'm a non-smoker, I read that smoking worsens bronchitis and can turn it into a chronic condition. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways in the lungs. The main tubes that air flows through in the lungs are called bronchi, and branching off them are smaller tubes called bronchioles. My coughing was my body's attempt to clear those tubes.

Here are a few lessons I learned from my experience with bronchitis:

Obviously my first lesson is not to sleep with a fan in a window pointed at me.

Drink fluids. I found doing this kept my throat moistened, so the pain was less when I coughed. My wife urged me to take cough drops, but I was stubborn and didn't want to have all that sugar in my mouth. I just drank a lot of water. I didn't hesitate to lie down and nap especially in the afternoon. I'd feel refreshed so I could still do a little work at home.

In the beginning I was 99% sure of the possibility that my infection would spread to others including the clients I serve, so I cancelled all engagements and isolated my myself for a week. Many of us might find this difficult because we are so used to being in the company of others than alone. However, if you make a conscious choice to isolate as I did you could find a great opportunity to experience present moment awareness and inner stillness. You won't make time into a problem for yourself anymore. You are accepting what is and open to this moment.

Hopefully you won't lose your appetite. Fruits vegetables and soups were my intakes but for a few days I didn't want to cook, so I ate out (pizza, chili)

The thing about my antibiotics is that I made sure I took all the capsules. It was sobering to realize that the professional who treated me had the experience and training to decide how much meds I would need and what my dosage would be (frequency) to get the infection cleared out. If I had not taken all the medicine, there would be a chance the infection could come back.

After I finished my meds I went for a follow-up visit. The infection had cleared, but still he suggested we remain vigilant for another week. Then he mentioned something that I know is healthy but I've never heard it directly from a medical doctor: "Try to walk for 20 to 30 minutes every day. It will help you with your breathing."

I now walk every day in the mall rain or shine, and I've noticed some subtle improvements with alertness, overall strength, climbing stairs and increased appetite and attention to diet.

Bronchitis isn't a pleasant experience, especially with frequent episodes. Hopefully, I can learn from it and take appropriate precautions to minimize it.©

Taking Good Care


October 15, 2015


James Kershaw


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Jim Kershaw says

November 15, 2015,

I didn't get brochitis this year (2016) I had a couple of bouts with vertigo also not good.

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