Last fall I had a little surprise, in the form of getting asthma. Odd that I hadn't expected it at all; I've had allergies all my life -- to various pollens and plants and cats, when I was young. Then, when I was studying for my doctoral orals -- I gather it was a Stressful Time -- I went to the Dordogne in the middle of summer and the beautiful French countryside put me into a 24/7 allergy fit from which I never really recovered. Went back home and continued to sneeze all year.
Then when I moved to Pittsburgh, and was staying my first summer in an attic apartment without air conditioning, some friends lent me a window unit that had been in their basement, and as soon as I put it in the window and turned it on, my face swelled up. Mold. Can't take that, either.
Oh, and there were foods I couldn't eat -- mostly tropical fruits -- avocados, mangoes, papayas, blah blah blah.
But I took drugs - it's Zyrtec these days, for which I am very grateful, and I kept my cats, and things were fine.
And then last fall I realized I was wheezing. And my chest got tight sometimes. And the doctor told me it was asthma. I got an inhaler, and I worked on my breathing meditation.
But a few weeks ago I was at a medieval conference, and I was using the inhaler all day long. And I came home and I had birthday cupcakes, and I was using the inhaler all day long. And I hit the wall, and I finally did something I'd been thinking about for 20 years: I tried the Elimination Diet.
And. I can't eat wheat, and I can't eat milk, and I can't eat safflower oil. And the first day of the Elimination Diet, I cut the use of the inhaler to a fifth of what it had been. And now I go days without using it.
And I want to tell you, the fact that I can't eat any of the foods which were my favorites (the cheese! the cake! the ice cream!) is fine by me, cause boy, do I like breathing.
I'm breathing better than I have in a long time. I may well have been breathing this well as a child, but if so, I don't remember it. I love it.
I have been for decades an excellent baker. And now I'm going to learn how to bake differently. I know it can be done, because Pittsburgh is lucky enough to have Gluuteny, at which one can buy milk-free and wheat-free treats* which are VERY good. So if they can do it, I can do it.
And soy milk in the Yorkshire Gold tea is just fine.
I've been remembering a song we used to sing a lot in the early days in Reclaiming -- keep breathing, it's the most important part; you kick, and then you glide; you kick, and then you glide; keep breathing, it's the most important part. It's all in the rhythm, it's all in the rhythm, it's all in the rhythm of your heart.**
I'm still working on the breathing meditations, too.
*They're gluten-free, really, but I only care about the wheat; it's not the gluten itself I'm having trouble with, I gather, since oatmeal and barley don't cause me to have trouble breathing.
**Somebody tell me in the comments, please, who wrote it; I can't find a copy as I write this.