NYC Journal Monday 4/13/2020 – Lemonade when possible
Did you ever read about Dr Buteyko? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buteyko_method
About the only good thing Wikipedia could think to say about his method is, “A 2014 British clinical guideline said that for adults the Buteyko method could improve some asthma symptoms and quality of life, but that it had little impact on lung function” OK, well, that’s pretty good. Maybe it also can help with sleep apnea? Didn’t find anything definitive about that, but I didn’t look very hard. It’s hard to study methods based on forcing yourself to feel like you’re drowning. Where’s the cohort who follow the regime? When I was particularly interested in this topic, it seemed to me that, though I searched the wide web over, I’d really only found one truly worthy pupil of Buteyko: this Scottish Buddhist, who’s testimony can be read here: monk:http://www.buteykomeditation.com/a-buddhist-monks-experience-with-buteyko/
The method mostly consists of practicing taking in less oxygen. Like you can alternate holding one nostril closed for five minutes and then the other. Or like you hold your nostrils closed and nod up and down. The sense of it I have is that unlike normal deep breathing, you don’t ever take a big breath, but are always trying to hold your gut in and not let too much air in. No: I don’t think you’re supposed to breathe from your chest. I think it’s more like you let the air fall all the way down to your gut and you push chest and gut out to receive the air, but minimally, as if your gut could only move a miniscule amount beyond “sucked in”. Or is it OK to do my variation, where you push the gut and chest out far while holding your breath, having brought no extra air in?
When a few days ago I had asthmatic symptoms with this suspected COVID-19 case, I played around with the following riff on the Buteyko method: I wouldn’t draw air in, but I would plug my nose and then open up my thorax as wide as possible, like I was bringing lots of air in and needed more space for it, but without bringing the extra air in. And then holding my breath and that constantly-expanding pose a bit past comfortable. I worked on this off and on for a couple hours.. The asthma stopped. Why?
The next day I was very congested and did the same, except I also mixed in taking long slow big breaths and holding them for a little past comfortable. And then, as in the night before, I’d push the air out by pulling my gut in in in, trying to get as close to 2-D as possible, and holding that a moment before letting gut up a little, and breathing more normally. Also seemed to help.
While opening your chest and gut and shoulders and everything as wide as possible; you can also practice letting the Light in.
Today my lungs still feel a little papery. And this morning and the last couple yesterdays I was coughing more than I had. I guess I’ll experiment with breath control and thorax/carapace expansion for a while and see if I can push back on the crumbly lungs. I haven’t been coughing for several hours.
Why would one be mostly getting better but yet cough more than ever before? Is it like a symptom-halfpipe? One must go through the milder symptoms (this cough, though active, has seemed relatively dry and nonviolent) as one rises out of the disease? I am rising out of the disease, right?
I’m going on my fourth week home with suspected symptoms. If I didn’t have to stress out in my living room / office all M-F 9AM-5PM, I think I would already be all better. But who knows? And there’s something very unstressing about being gainfully employed.
If your work asks for a doctor’s letter, what would you like the doctor to write?
What about something like the following?
BEGIN SUGGESTED LETTER:
This man lives not in this world; he works in and from and through and for the Best of All Possible Worlds.
Granted: by working so hard for you from his isolation, he’s set back his recovery by a week or two. However: do you want the whole enterprise collapsing, as surely it must if this Titan of Productivity were to take his full rest? And: If you simply give him time, if you back off, give him his space, and let him work through this difficult situation as he sees fit, he will not only effect a full recovery, he’ll do so with the best possible balance between physical and economic health, between private and public needs, between Yes & No.
Please indulge a few personal remarks:
Both as a physician and a human being, I mourn the scarcity of citizens of his caliber. It’s not simply that with more such cautiously courageous souls we would shorten both this pandemic and its economic slump. That, of course, is self-evidently true. But the tragedy is deeper and wider than this moment. The tragedy is that human beings fail to govern themselves well because individuals and systems do not adequately fight against the corruptions inherent in all earthly organisms/organizations, and that the few who do do what’s right are all too often swallowed up and crushed by this general, all-pervading, all-shaming spiritual/emotional/intellectual indifference.
What thanks has this selfless jedermann received for his steadfast commitment to the one true prize; to a life centered around a whole-being active unfolding of a simple question: “how can I think/feel/act in a way that is best for everyone??” ??
I’ll tell you that thanks he’s received:
It is to be treated like a common thief: stripped down, paraded naked and shivering up to an overlooming concave shining-steel podium, while down from on high shouts/spits a leering judge in a garish outfit of mink overcoat (heads & feets intact); frilly peacock, ostrich, and rattlesnake shirt; and a brass helmet decorated in rhino horns, dolphin eyes, and pangolin spleens:
“Where’s the proof? Where’s the proof that you didn’t steal the cabbage leaf? It’s true that we find no cabbage leaf on your person and we’ve found no traces of cabbage leaf in your digestive system — which perhaps we’ll return to you after this inquest, we’ll see how it goes —; but that’s hardly proof! Where’s the proof!? Speak! And don’t you lie to me, boy!”
Dr. Delilah Samson Xerxes, MD (or: Medical Doctor) (among other accomplishments; for example I am a critically acclaimed classical and big band trombonist, a black belt in Judo, Jujitsu, and Six Sigma; and an avid cyclist, cook, and blogger — see From-Bartleby.com for a full resume and writing samples)
END SUGGESTED LETTER
Today I had a conversation with someone whose friend’s husband had just died of the disease.
Her friend had for weeks been asking for prayers on Facebook. He’d been on a respirator during that time.
He was in his late forties. He leaves behind a wife and young children.
Editorial Oversight: JOS, AW, BW
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