It Turns Out I Don’t Breathe
Okay, that title might be slightly misleading.
Clearly, I am breathing, otherwise the very act of sitting here typing would be super creepy and would call into question much of what I understand to be true about the necessity of breathing.
But, it was pointed out to me, that I stop breathing normally when I get incredibly stressed.
So, the short version of the events is that my husband and I were at an appointment with my counselor. We were talking about the events of the last 2 weeks, and our decision to seek a second opinion in Dr. Braverman, and our worries about our current RE and clinic and the need for someone in our home city to monitor us to help with the costs. And the fact that we have 3 medical appointments at the end of this week, and basically the stress of it all.
And then, my phone rang. And, for whatever reason I didn’t ignore it (as I normally would when I’m engaged in another conversation). By some odd coincidence / twist of fate, my fertility clinic called me while I was sitting in the room with my counselor and my husband.
I answered it and had a quick conversation – it turns out they called just to remind me of our upcoming appointment next week – no big deal.
But, the important thing about this was that our counselor was able to witness the conversation unfold. She was actually thrilled that she was able to watch the conversation. She was actually able to see my physical stress response, and see how my body stopped doing what it needs to do properly.
I stopped breathing.
Not the type of stopping that requires immediate medical attention to prevent death. It was more like, I was preparing for the worst, and lost the ability to remember to inhale and exhale at a normal rhythm as I was focusing on the things that this phone call could mean. As our counselor observed, I evidently stopped breathing normally the entire time I was on the phone – a good 1 or 2 minutes. While clearly, I continued to breath or I’d be dead, my breathing pattern turned very erratic and shallow for the duration of the call.
I can honestly say I had never noticed this. I have observed that when I get incredibly stressed in a conversation, I get really cold – so cold in fact that I’ll actually start shivering. I am now so aware of it, that if I was expecting a stressful interaction with someone at work (i.e. dealing with poor performance of another employee), I would dress in layers! And, I’m also now very aware when this occurs that I need to take a step back from the heat of the conversation and refocus the conversation to a less stressful place. Anyways, I digress.
I have never noticed that I stop breathing normally. This was new to me.
So, it became very evident to our counselor that we to develop a plan for me to get through our appointment with our RE because it turns out that asides from remaining alive, there are a lot of physiological benefits from regular breathing. She explained a lot of this, but I didn’t pay enough attention to the details to share them here.
So the plan now is that
- I have to remember to breath. My husband has to point it out to me if he notices that I stop breathing – he can do this by simply taping my leg, so that its’ not obvious to anyone but us (i.e he can secretly tell me in our RE appointment).
- I have to develop a mantra of some sort to repeat in my head, a few times. Even if it’s just the world calm repeated over and over.
- I had to practice deep breathing during our medical appointments – in through my nose, filling my lungs so that my stomach is pushed out, and holding for a few seconds, then releasing through my mouth. And repeating this a few times. She actually taught me to do this when I was stressed at my old job and I used to do it on my drive to and from work – and now I still find myself breathing when I’m in my car driving somewhere – so now I need to remember to use it during stressful events.
- My RE clinic gets a new ring sound on my cell phone so that I am aware that it is them instantly. This will enable me to remember to start breathing before I even answer the phone.
Here’s to hoping I breathe through the appointments this week and that our medical professionals locally agree to work with us and support our efforts to really get to the bottom of our RPL.
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