Where do I start?

When I sit down to share about my lung journey I don’t know where to start, so that’s where I’m starting. 

Not at the beginning, not at the end, because well, I’m not there yet, so lets start where I am and we’ll go from there.

Where am I? Oh this is so interesting, I actually have no idea. I can only compare where I am to where I was about 15 months ago.

My mornings now are a few dry coughs, snot running, blowing my nose in tissues and a few mucus coughs (from the snot) but that’s it.

During 11am-3pm I cough up Non-Tuberculous Mycobacterium (NTM). This is a lovely yellow mucus that comes up from my lungs. It’s a bacteria that’s super hard to get rid of and some people live with it forever – that’s not my plan.

It’s different when it comes up each day and it’s funny when it does come up because it’s like I’ve totally forgotten that I have it, so it comes up and says, ‘Hi, I’m still here!’ And I’m like ‘Oh crap, I forgot about you.’ Literally that’s what happens.

My nights are clear now and that’s a HUGE thing. I do sometimes dry cough, but I think this is more about my body moving off the lounge or bed and my lungs opening up and working. This will go soon, I know that to be true.

Every day is different, so I’m not saying this is how it is all the time, but this is my current baseline or my current normal.

Where I was 15 months ago was a much harder place and I did what I could to keep it ‘quiet’. Not because I didn’t want people to know, basically there weren’t a lot of people in my home in the morning, so it was just Chris, Teddy and I. However, I didn’t share where I was because I didn’t want advice or fixing. I stumbled around in the dark, looking for things that could help me heal.

Each morning would start with coughing up NTM. The wet cough would continue for about 45 minutes and I’d spit it out in the toilet or down the sink.

Then I had the wonder of this rising heat. I say that facetiously because it was a nightmare. I would feel the heat mainly through my chest, back, neck and face. I used to get an ice pack out to cool me down.

Now this could have been peri-menopause symptoms but I only had the lovely heat rising in the morning and it was with my cough.

I believe it was there to help kick the mucus out of my body, so my body was doing it for a reason but the heat, along with the cough, was exhausting.

Some days, Chris and Teddy would leave for school drop off and I’d head back to bed for an hour or two.

If I was working at 6am, there was a few months where I’d get up at 5am, boil the kettle to make my hot tea and have a hot shower. Then I’d walk around the house for the rest of the time doing what I could to deliberately bring up the mucus, so I wouldn’t cough on my call. It worked a bit and it made me feel better, but I still coughed.

There was also the time when I had a podcast interview at 4.30am. I got up at 4am and jumped around my office. Again, this was all about bringing up the mucus. It worked, but it didn’t stop me coughing on the call. I was much better than if I hadn’t done it at all, however, that was a small win.

Generally, my mucus would flare again at different times and I didn’t really know why. It could be after I’d had lunch or a drink of water, so I’d wonder, ‘What’s in my salad today that’s making me bring this up?’ Or ‘What’s going on with my water, is it the magnesium powder that I’ve added that has an ingredient that my body doesn’t agree with?’

I would always bring up the NTM after playing netball and I’d cough after all exercise. Going for a walk was a challenge, heck just walking down to put our chickens away was a challenge. I’d be out of breath before I got down the back of our property – which isn’t that far.

I’d also get light headed and bring up mucus if I over exerted myself, and by over exertion that means pulling a few weeds out in our garden. It didn’t take much.

I truly wondered if this was what people meant when they said ‘When you get to forty, your health goes to shit.’ I was 48 at the time, my 40s had been good to me but now I wasn’t feeling good at all.

I felt like one big ball of mucus who should be put out to pasture – totally what I wanted right? Not at all.

I didn’t want to be 80 years old dying in my own mucus. Assuming I could even get to 80.

So what changed? What’s happened between then and now for me to be in the position that I am now? 

It’s an interesting question and the answer is a lot and not a lot. It’s been about building blocks, knowledge, experiments, having grace with myself and trying new things.

It’s never been about judgement or about looking outside of myself for the answers, nor has it been about finding the one thing – the one answer because, for me, there’s rarely one answer.

Rather, it’s been about listening to my body, noticing the signs around me and utilising the tools I have and that others have to heal.

This journey for me, is all about healing multi-dimensionally – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and it all begins with me.

What I’m going to share from here on in, well, it’s going to include what I’ve tried, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked or what I’ve let go of, and who I’ve become because I’ve gone on this journey – are you ready to dive in? Are you ready to play around in your own life, make changes and see what works and what doesn’t work for you? It’s time, and we can heal – I believe we will all heal.

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