Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Choking on Air

I’m used to having difficulty catching my breath when it’s hot, humid, I’ve exerted myself too much and or just in general when my body feels weaker. Heat and humidity are the worst for my condition!!!  Ugh.  I literally feel drained. Humidity makes breathing feel like a chore.

I’m familiar with the tingling face and fingers, dizziness, and lightheadedness I feel when I can’t get a good deep breath in…  I’ve learned to relax and wait.  That good breath will eventually appear and I’ll feel better.  It’s just part of having CMS! It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life.

Moving to the desert helped my breathing a lot, since it’s so dry here!  Yay for my lungs!!!  Boooo for my dry skin.  I just have to stay in the air conditioning or realize I’ll lose strength if I get too hot.

What I’m talking about here, isn’t the same breathing monster though…this is an entirely different feeling that I’ve experienced countless times in my adult years and scares the crap outta me!

These were the most memorable situations:

It happened at a family dinner once when I was pregnant.  That was the first time.  I sipped my water wrong I coughed, my throat closed, and I couldn’t breathe in!  It was like my throat closed off and the muscle clamped it shut and wouldn’t let but a tiny sliver of air through!  It made a horrid sound when I tried breathing in… I sounded like a dying barking seal crossed with awful laugh of the character in “Revenge of the Nerds.”  Panic!  Everyone was staring at me, helpless. I hate attention and I didn’t want or need the heimlich maneuver, so I walked away and motioned that I was fine!  I wasn’t.  I wanted to be fine!  But clearly I wasn’t.  Eventually it subsided and I was breathing normal again.  Ok. Back to eating dinner and pretending nothing happened.  That was really weird!

For your listening pleasure… Imagine a long drawn out version of a combination of these two sounds from these videos each time I breathe in during my episodes:

Nerd laugh!

Barking seal!
It happened once when I was driving down a busy highway trying to get me and my husband to work on time… I didn’t even drink anything!  I guess I swallowed my own spit wrong and there I went again… Revenge of the Nerds dying seal drawn out inhaling  all over again.  Omg!  Please! Let me take ONE good breath in!  Why is my throat closed???  I can get air out silently, but breathing in…impossible! The muscle has it stuck closed! I had to pull over for fear I’d pass out, crash and kill someone!

It also happened during my c-section when my daughter was born. I got nauseous during the part of the surgery where it feels like the doctor crawls inside of your abdomen, takes a wrong turn and ends up in your chest, dances around a while, pulls on all your organs and eventually finds the baby and pulls her out! I lost a lot of blood and started to dry heave which caused my throat to spasm and close off… The anesthesiologist who was holding my hand through the procedure even panicked and tried to sit me up a little on the table which caused my OB/GYN to scream at her to stop!!!! My surgical site was still wide open so I had to stay flat. They quickly gave me something in my IV to relax me, which essentially knocked me out….I was in recovery for hours longer than normal because I had a hard time waking up after that episode… I think that was the scariest.

It happened in a movie theater last year. I swallowed my drink wrong and started choking. My throat closed off and I was making that horrible Revenge of the Nerd dying barking seal noise again, and I started to panick that someone would call 911, or someone would try to give me CPR or something (gross!  I don’t want some stranger’s popcorn breath all over me) when all I needed was to RELAX and let it take its course… So embarrassing!!! I stepped out of the theater and hid around the corner. Then it dawned on me…what if it didn’t get better and I really did pass out or die?!! Omg. So scary… 😢 I didn’t want to be found heaped on the floor like the piles of spilt, wayward and abandoned popcorn kernels…

Obviously I lived to tell about it…I’m not writing this blog from the grave…but since then I’ve learned to breathe different when that happens. I close my eyes, stick my head forward and breathe through my nose as sloooooooowly as possible while trying to relax my throat muscle. It works pretty well now!  It seems to tame the Revenge of the Nerd Barking Seal…

My point is, there are many mysteries to this stupid disease that I must navigate through trial and error.  I hope none of them kill me!  I had to figure out that I need to try to RELAX through these scary episodes.  Which is exactly opposite of what I want to do!  My brain says NO OXYGEN COMING IN!!!  YOU SOUND LIKE LAUGHING DYING SEAL NERD!!!  YOU MUST PANIC!!!! But that only makes it worse.

I wish I could say my doctor had an answer for me when I made an appointment to discuss this scary issue…but as usual…he had no clue.  Simply stated, my throat muscle was spasming and remaining closed and there wasn’t anything he could do for it. That’s a theme I’ve become very accustomed to over the years!

I know my body.  I have a little bit of an idea how it works and what causes it not to work…so I live each day balancing all that out and navigating as best I can! 😊 (or trying to, anyway!)


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