Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Serious Musings on a Delightful Day


Recently I’ve had problems when I switch form my breathing being assisted by my CPAP and mask to being assisted by my nosehose. It is the same oxygen from my oxygen concentrator coming into me, so I conclude the problem isn’t the source. With the CPAP the oxygen is forced into my nose by pressure; with the nosehose it is the same amount of oxygen but under much less pressure.


This doesn’t happen every time I get up from bed and switch, but when it does it seems as if I am being suffocated. This morning I was so traumatized by the experience that I came close to dialing 911.

As I pondered the situation today, I began to wonder if I really know how to breathe! I’ve had breathing problems since I was a small child: I’ve been told that the problems come from allergens in this allergen-filled Ohio River Valley. That may be true, because I had no breathing problems when I visited Texas and Arizona. I have had problems getting my breath when in the mountains of Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado; I’ve ascribed those problems to the altitude.

So I wonder: does anyone else have similar problems? Does anyone know of a profession that teaches people how to breathe? I think that I may need to take a course in breathing!



I have previously written several posts about my personal experience with “urban guerrillas”—i.e., terrorists—in West Germany in the early 1970s. The recent terrorist acts in Northern Ireland bring back my own memories and the study I have been doing over the past 38 years of terrorism.

Northern Ireland, the Irish Republican Army, and “the Troubles” played a large part in that study, as did the peace process that (we thought) ended the conflict about twelve years ago.  The horror of those times, as well as the attempts to bring peace, especially by both Protestant and Catholic women, is story that has been too soon forgotten.

In this new round of Northern Ireland terrorism, supposedly orchestrated by the so-called “Real IRA” or perhaps the “Continuity IRA,” three lives have been lost in a few days.

What concerns me the most about all terrorism is:

  • Terrorists target innocent victims.
  • Terrorists make use to mass killing techniques, such as bombs
  • A dedicated terrorist does not need a “cause” to kill; it is the killing that the terrorist enjoys.

So I continue to pray for peace in all those places where terrorists are now active. And, I fear, those places now include almost the entire earth.


  1. I'm glad that my copd is under control and that I donot need to use oxygen as a supplement to breath.I'm sad to read your sufferings.You are in my Prayers my friend.

  2. Nick, I'm sorry to hear of your breathing problems. Have you explored through the VA for help with breathing? I don't know if it is actually an offered service, but my hub got some help one time, whether it was just a one time thing off the cuff or not.

    About terrorism or general unrest, as I read your post, I thought about the worldwide aspects. I don't know if it is worse (it certainly seems so) or if it is just so obvious because of the rapidity of news distribution today with the internet and other technologies. I suspect there is actually more, but I can't help but wonder about whether many of the battles that didn't directly concern us in previous times were unreported or under reported. Today everything is important because of the nearness that is, in part, the absence of distance (fast travel, and again, the technological swiftness of word travel). I don't know, but I know it is something that sits heavily in the hearts of many of us.

  3. Dear Nick, Have you seen a respitory therapist? Hubs has a cpap, I have a bipap. Sometimes, I use to wake up in a panic and could not breath. It was really frightening. If you could just slow your breathing down and breath regular.

    Are you sure you are not hyper- ventalating? Does your heart rate go up when this happens? I will keep you in my prayers. Think blue as it always calms me down.

  4. Sorry to hear about your breathing problems. You are in my thoughts.

    Peace to you and to all.

  5. You might benefit from a respiratory therapist/clinic consult . How ever knowing of your condition I am sure you have been through several.

    I hope you feel better.

  6. I pray that your ability to breath improves, sir.

    I, too, remember Baader-Meinhof. They overlapped in time with the modern IRA. That certainly was a terrible time, with Baader-Meinhof, the IRA, and hoodlums with Patty Hurst in your land. It wasn't even safe to walk down the street! One never know when a bomb would go off. I suppose it is what it is like to live Israel or Lebanon, or Iraq today!

    I join you in your prayers, sir, and thank you for your writing about terrorists.

  7. Sorry to hear about your breathing problems ... very frightening.

    I wonder whether something like the Buteyko technique might be of help to you? I have no experience of it personally but have heard of it as a treatment for asthma.

    This is one website but might be worth Googling others?

  8. I certainly hope that your breathing is better.

    Terrorism is horrible because the terrorist attach the innocent.

  9. I see some others have mentioned respiratory therapy. Does the VA cover that? After my mom was really sick I heard that there were things a therapist could have taught her that would have helped. Let us know if you check into this.

  10. Mike Golch : Thank you for your concern and prayers. I’m glad that you don’t need oxygen—it can be a royal pain in one’s ass!

    Lynilu : Thank you. Yes, VA is aware of my COPD; they supply the oxygen, the Albuterol, the Proventil, and the SereVent that keeps me breathing.

    I agree: we do receive instant information on what’s happening around the world and that does bring us all a lot closer. I’ve been studying terrorism for a long time and I found it evil because it has no other purchase than to kill, destroy, and primarily create fear and terror. That’s different from other hostilities, which usually have another purpose, even if it is genocide.

    Finding Pam: Thank you. Yes, I see a repertory therapist every six months, but the only thing she does is make me walk around without oxygen until my blood oxygen level falls and then she measures how quickly I recover. That’s to recertify me for oxygen therapy.

    I don’t think I am hyperventilating. My primary crisis is when I switch from the CPAP to the nosehose when I get out of bed. For some reason, I have difficulty breathing when the air isn’t being forced into my nose.

  11. Carol: Thank you, my friend.

    det-res : Thank you. Yes, in fact I have an appointment with the respiratory therapy department at the VA hospital from March 20.

    Dashing Dydle: Thank you.

    Wow! I had almost forgotten about Patty Hurst and the Symbionese Liberation Army! Those were some difficult times in Europe and the U.S.A.

  12. Wow- that sure seems like a lousy way to start your day.

    I think this is the kind of thing you should ask your doctor about.

    Are you taking it slow in the mornings, switching from CPAP to the mask and lying there for a bit, or are you jumping out of the bed and right into action? The only thing I can think of is to make the transition as gradual as you possibly can.

  13. You are right to call the people who have murdered innocent people in Ireland terrorists Nick. The claim that their actions are religion based but that is just an excuse for their lack of morals.

    I'm sorry to hear you are having trouble with your breathing, well more so than usual. x

  14. dancingonabladeofgrass : Thank you. I’ve not considered the Buteyko technique, but I shall certainly check out and explore the website and Buteyko.

    Actually, it was learning to breath in the Zen way that, many years ago, helped me realize that my way of breathing until then had been incorrect. Until then, all of my breathing was very shallow; I probably utilized less than 50% of my lung capacity. I was always winded when playing sports or swimming.

    I’ll let you know if the Buteyko technique is helpful.

    Judith : Thank you for visiting Nick’s Bytes
    And for your words.

    Squirl : Thank you. Yes, the VA hospital has respiratory therapy department. Actually, the majority of the treatment I receive from them is related to my breathing. Of course, the treatment is all in the oxygen and the meds. I suppose that that is “treatment.” I have an appointment at the VA respiratory therapy department for oxygen recertification on March 20, which I am dreading because they take my oxygen away from me and make me walk for six minutes, both of which are painful. When I’m there I’ll ask if there is anyone available who can teach me to breath!

  15. Thomas: Yes, thank you, it is a lousy way to begin a day. Of course, it doesn’t happen every day and it doesn’t happen only at the beginning of the day. It can also happen when I awaken from a nap—and I take lots of naps!

    I believe that ou may have made an important obersavtion, Thomas, about my needing to take it slower. Often, when I awaken, I need to rush from the bed to the toilet. To do that, I must first switch from oxygen via the CPAP to oxygen via the nosehose. That means unhooking the oxygen hose from the CPAP and attaching it to the two-pronged thing that goes in my nose. I’ll admit that in my rush to keep from pissing or shitting on myself change the oxygen line isn’t all that smooth.

    Akelamalu: Thank you.

    I saw both sides, Orange and Green—Protestant and Catholic—as having fought a terrorist war during The Troubles; they each had their targets, but they also were involved in random killing simply to create fear—i.e., terror. I pray that those days never again return to Ireland.

  16. Nick, your response to Squirl reflects what I was looking for .... checking to see if they can teach you some techniques. That is what my hub got. He commented jokingly that it was sad when a grown man has to be taught something as simple as breathing. It did seem to help him to utilize muscles and ease his struggle for air. I'm glad you're going to ask about it.

  17. Blessings to you, Rev Saint! I’m praying that your breathing is better today. Of course, I have been telling you for many years to get out of that forsaken valley and join me here in Arizona.

    I, too, am saddened by the killing in Northern Ireland. I do not believe that those murders will spark a newel of the violence of past years. I heard on the radio that thousands of people, Catholic and Protestant, attended peace rallies across Northern Ireland yesterday. I believe and pray that the peace is safe!

  18. Have you had a lung function test lately, Nick? Your oxygen saturation may be depressed or maybe the pressure needs re regulating on the oxygen cylinder. Is there someone you could call to come and check all the equipment? Fighting to breathe is not funny and could be dangerous. I hope you can call someone because this is serious, Nick.

    Do take care and call someone, Nick.

  19. Those breathing issues sound scary. I know that there are yoga classes that teach you how to improve your breathing.

    It's not the same thing as you describe, but when I was more actively working out I used to practice deep breathing for 10 minutes in the morning and evening. I did notice that after each session, for awhile it seemed like my body was forgetting how to just breathe normally...almost like it was waiting for me to breathe a bit deeper or exhale a bit more thoroughly.