For a healthy person, breathing is an automatic subconscious function our body does effortlessly. For us ALS patients however, it is one of our biggest challenges. A majority of the medical literature published tells us that once diagnosed with ALS, you gradually lose functionality of your muscles. Unfortunately, that includes the muscles required for breathing which without, will lead to respiratory failure and eventually the loss of ability to breathe independently. So as a result, taking care of my lungs has become my number one priority.
I am easily affected by any strong smells, particularly smoke. Any kind of smoke inhalation limits my ability to breathe, so consequently, we turned our home into a ‘no smoking zone.’ I stay away from cigarette smokers as the lingering smell of smoke on their clothes affects me. Another smell that bothers me is cooking – whether it is the frying or the strong smell of spices we often use with Arabic food. My husband built us a very small kitchenette in the garden just for frying so our home remains smelling fresh all day. I also make it a point to keep the windows open to circulate the air, and if there is not enough of a breeze blowing in, I simply switch on a fan. The circulation of air facilitates my breathing so I always situate my chair near large windows and I always keep the bedroom windows open. Wherever I am, I learn to improvise in order to adapt – just like a chameleon, ha ha.
Some of the worst enemies to my lungs would be catching a cold, developing a cough, or God forbid, catching the flu virus. Anyone of those could easily lead to Pneumonia creating a setback to my health that I might not be able to recover from. Needless to say, I am petrified of getting sick – my health cannot afford such a setback and so, I am very protective and paranoid of my surroundings. When I come across anyone whom I suspect might be sick, I make them wear a mask (of which I keep a huge supply of, ha ha) and use sanitizers incessantly. As they say in sports, ‘defense is the best line of attack.’
I truly hope and pray that my breathing will remain stable and that all my precautions will pay off – I believe my method has been working for me. Never, ever take your breathing for granted; try to maintain a clean and pure atmosphere in your home and keep your lungs strong and healthy.
Every now and then, I find myself testing my breathing to check the strength of my inhalation ha ha, thankfully I find myself feeling grateful and blessed that my lungs are able to function on their own.