Are You Breathing?

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

I went for surgery the other day.

This began about a year ago. I started having difficulty breathing one day. The first time it happened, I had a mini panic inside me. Wondering what was wrong. But my worry went out of the window once I started breathing normally again.

It happened a few more times after that, but it wasn't anything I couldn't cope with. I dealt with it as it came and went about my daily life.

However, I notice that when I am doing my stretching, certain poses allow me to breathe freely. Amazed at the feeling, I do it occasionally when the need arises.

Fast forward 1 year later. Someone spotted that I had a lump in my throat.

A check with the specialist revealed that I have a goitre. When the doctor asked if I had difficulty breathing or swallowing, I instinctively replied, "No".

Despite my answer, I started to have some feelings of doubt.

Thoughts started buzzing in my head on my way home.

"Do I have trouble breathing?"

"I used to have trouble breathing. But I'm okay now. Right?"

"Well, I find breathing laboured. But that's normal right? "

"Is the reason I cant breathe properly when im lying down due to the goiter? Nah. I think it's the excess fats from my double chin causing that."

"I would have known if my breathing is obstructed."

"My sports bra is too tight that's why I couldn't breathe the other day"

All the doubts were cast aside the moment my ride home ended.

I convinced myself that I was okay. The fact that I am breathing normally is proof of that.

Since the goitre doesn't obstruct me in any way, I had the option to surgically remove it or adopt a wait and see method. The latter does come with a cost.

a) If the goitre grows too big, it will be more prone to complications.

b) It might be cancerous. A biopsy is not accurate due to the solid nature of my lump.

You might think the choice is obvious. Not for me.

I wasn't sure I wanted to remove the goitre.

a) It is not very obvious to the onlookers.

b) I worry about the complications of what might happen. I mean, what if I am stuck with a hoarse voice for the rest of my life? Or that I have a hideous scar? Or my precious metabolism starts dipping?

Very superficial reasons to some, I know.

But like many things in life, we cannot help how we feel. We worry about things that others deem unimportant. AND THAT IS OKAY.

Weighing the pro and cons heavily, I decided to go for the surgery. I came to the conclusion of health over everything else. Without good health, you lose everything.

While I am at peace with my decision, it does not change my worry about the unknown. I was genuinely fearful. But I decided to focus on the positive aspects of the surgery and take it as a life experience.

Eyes on the goal, I step into the unknown.

I awoke to the anesthesiologist asking how I was feeling. While trying to focus, it suddenly hit me.. BREATHING IS A BREEZE! Since my body was all drugged up, all I could only do was an out of body somersault in amazement. Inhale.. Exhale.. Inhale.. Exhale.. I am delighted at how effortlessly I could do that. It may sound silly. But I was having the time of my life simply breathing on my way back to the ward. My last memory before the drugs prevailed and lulled me back to slumberland.

According to the lung association, we breathe 22,000 times a day. That meant I breathed approximately 8,030,000 times and I did not sense anything was amiss. Neither did I think something needed to be done.


It is just human nature for us to shrug something off without paying much attention to it.

My laboured breathing, like many obstacles in life, happens gradually with bouts of intense moments. In autopilot mode, we cope with them as best as we can, in the best way we know-how. Our body adapts, and the suffering becomes our way of life without us even noticing it.

I wanted to share this story with you because this is the perfect example of how we deal with our mental and emotional health. We go through the motions of life unaware. It doesn't occur to most of us to address difficult situations. We take in the sufferings and think it is normal and how life should be. Even when our attention is brought to it, we would rather do guesswork at the causes. Causes that, coincidentally, keep us in our comfort zone. It is innate in us to resist change. The unknown can be scary. We let our fear rule us even if the benefits are right on the other side, glaring at us.

If I had chosen to stay status quo because I was managing, I would not have realised how strenuous an easy task has become for me.

Perhaps it's time that we evaluate if we are living life or simply coping in life.

#selfcare #personalgrowthcoach #selfawareness #startlivinglife #thyroidectomy #erykaliu

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