Breathing

Breathing a Lot Better in 2021

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Some of you might remember an ill-fated trip to a doctor I took a while back because I was tormenting my poor wife with my incessant snoring. Well, good things definitely came from that post. Yes, of course I had the wonderful release that comes from complaining about the ever-present difficulties that seem to follow around so many of us adult folk. And yes, I learned a major lesson about how not to search for medical professionals in the Holy Land. But more than anything, my post led to a recommendation that began an adventure leading me to where I am now: Breathing better than I ever have in my entire life.

The Real Beginning

Breathing

About twenty years ago I stepped into a doctor’s office in Israel. I knew I had a complicated relationship with the medical world. But I also knew that I was part of a socialized medicine system. Perhaps now was the best time ever to get this awful obstruction to my breathing taken care of.

I fought my way through the system. At first I was told that the surgery was mainly cosmetic and provided no real benefit. So not only was it not necessary, but it might not be covered by insurance. But I was not yet discouraged. No… that came later. I pushed my way through, and I was told I can get the procedure after resting patiently on a waiting list… for one to two years.

And then and there, I gave up my dream to get this annoying and obstructive nuisance fixed. I basically couldn’t breathe from one nostril, was congested all the time, and couldn’t imagine a world in which I would ever be able to maximize my breathing capability. But I was stuck. If I were in the States, I could get the procedure… for a solid 10-20 thousand dollars. If I were in Israel, I could get the procedure… at some point in an unknown future. A future I couldn’t rely upon, since I could barely predict the next day, let alone what would be happening in two years.

So I just gave up. I decided the pursuit wasn’t worth it. And whatever was bugging me, would bug me forever. It was just a part of my life.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Breathing

In steps my beautiful and amazing wife, Devorah… who can’t sleep through a tiny cough let alone a five-hour bout of loud and obnoxious snoring. And we take a trip to an ENT, to hop into a rabbit hole that would lead to where I am now.

We started off with an idiot who told us the problem was I’m excessively fat and my wife is too stupid to figure out earplugs.

As brilliant as his insights were, we left discouraged, but with a major lesson learned about the Israeli healthcare system. You don’t step into a doctor’s office in Israel without a recommendation. Even if you have to wait twenty times as long, it is never worth it to just go to someone because they have an available appointment. It’s a one-way street to massive disappointment.

With the lesson learned, we set out to find an actually competent doctor who would start the process that first led me to a sleep study. For the uninitiated, this means one rather odd and uncomfortable night’s sleep with a machine strapped to you that ultimately determines if you have sleep apnea and at what level of severity. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn much, except we definitely found out that if my wife ever wanted to sleep well again, we were going to need to find a different path.

And that’s when I reluctantly looked into surgery… and before I knew it, I would be under the knife in just two months. The insane wait of the past was exactly that: A thing of the past. I’d never had a surgery in my life, and that was very much about to change.

Don't step into a doctor's office in Israel without a recommendation. Even if you have to wait twenty times as long... It's a one-way street to massive disappointment. Click To Tweet

My Hospital Adventure

Breathing

Here are three things I learned from that very interesting two days in the hospital:

  1. Drugs are amazing! I’m aware I’m a little late to the party on this one… I’m still completely fascinated by the concept of some substance going into your system that makes you entirely clueless to everything happening to and around you. And one that makes you feel like your floating in a beautiful happy cloud when you wake up. I mean, I had a feeling I’d enjoy the drug aspect of the experience. I probably didn’t expect to enjoy things as much as I did.
  2. Bring the right partner along for the ride. My wonderful Devorah was there for me every step (or misstep) of the way, and I couldn’t have done any of this without her. For some odd reason, when everything was finished, they gave me some instructions, but wouldn’t allow her to be in the room for them. Yes, they gave the instructions to some bozo who was high as a kite and completely clueless as to anything and everything happening around him. So dopey junkie boy trotted off to the restroom without a care in the world… only to have to sit on the floor, pass out, and call out to his wife. Not a good show on the part of the hospital, but again, I couldn’t imagine going with a more caring and sympathetic partner. I am where I am only because of her!
  3. Finally, recovery is a long and complex road. In the days following my surgery, if I laughed or strained, blood would start trickling out of my nose. I was uncomfortable constantly. And as the days progressed, sometimes I felt like I was breathing in air in a way I’d never have before. And other days I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all. My path to where I am now was by no means linear. And even now, on the tail end of recovery, I realize all the time that in many ways my journey is not at all over. It just has a different starting line.

Rediscovering Breathing

Breathing

The other day I was in the gym, and after a hard set, I noticed I was breathing in and out deeply, but only using my mouth. Over the course of the last several decades, I must have gotten so frustrated at what breathing through my nose felt like, that I basically just stopped doing it. And now I have my super-mega-bionic nose, with passageways as clear as they could possibly be, but my brain has yet to really fathom what that means.

Every once in a while, I find myself remembering that I have this new, functional nose. I take in a big, deep breath. And it feels odd. It feels foreign. Yet, it also feels somewhat heavenly.

In many ways, very little has changed in my life post-surgery. My snoring has decreased, but it’s still hanging around. And I’m still not quite ready to be a full-blown nose breather. But in other ways, there’s this small but mighty impact on literally everything I do. You can’t separate breathing from the other actions in your life. So the more I learn to breathe differently, the more my every day will be permanently altered by that half-hour drug fest in Ashdod.

Every moment is a step closer to seeing where this all leads. What an incredible, unexpected, and so very peculiar adventure!

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