Some of our most important body functions are autonomic – they just happen without our thinking about it. But if one doesn’t just happen anymore, we are plunged into a frightening world. Julia Shippey has this Perspective.
I never thought breathing was something I had to worry about. You breathe in air and you breathe out carbon dioxide, as simple as that. There’s nothing else to it. I took it for granted, being able to simply breathe every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day. But now it’s all I think about.
When I was in 6th grade not too long ago we were running the mile in PE class.I wasn’t running slow, but I wasn’t running fast either. I was somewhere in the middle. All of sudden I got short of breath. It felt like my airway was slowly closing and getting smaller. The air felt thin. Oxygen wasn’t getting into my lungs, instead I just breathed it back out. I panicked. Millions of thoughts ran through my mind. What do I do? Why am I not breathing right? What is happening? I stopped running and tried to take a deep breath, but it wasn’t working.
One of the P.E. teachers noticed I had stopped running and came rushing over to me. Everyone was telling me to just breathe, to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. But I couldn’t. ‘Breathe,’ I told myself. ‘Just breathe.’ It took about one minute for me to get my breathing back under control.
I ended up getting an inhaler from my pediatrician and I used it almost every morning I had P.E. It helped, most of the time.