One week Post-Op and breathing lessons

July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Exactly one week ago today, I was in surgery.

 Here I am 7 days later.

Things are going great now but waking up from the anesthesia was not so fun!

When I woke up in that recovery room the very first thing that I remember doing was gasping for air.

I absolutely felt as if I could not breathe.  It was terrifying!

I kept trying to get a deep enough breath but it was just not happening.  The more I tried to get a deep breath the worse it became.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” I kept saying.

The recovery room nurse sitting beside me leans over with a smile and says “You can breathe. You’re fine

 I grasped the siderails of the bed as if I was going to somehow escape from there.  “I have to breathe! I can’t breathe!

 I continued to gasp for air feeling as if I was suffocating.  The nurse continued to try and console me telling me to just calm down and take slow breaths.  Finally, he says to me

                          “Your oxygen levels are fine.  You CAN breathe.”

Wow. I thought to myself.  This guy is nuts.  Is it not clear that I can’t breathe? I’m suffocating!

Yet there he sits calm as can be.  In fact, he was talking about baseball with one of the other nurses!

Every few minutes he’d taunt me with these reminders that my oxygen levels were normal and I could breathe.

I continued to frantically grasp for air while making mental notes to track this guy down once I was recovered!

The respiratory therapist came over and told me to purse my lips and breathe because it slows down the breathing, relaxes you and helps you to breathe easier.

It worked! Not instantly but it worked.

I could finally breathe.  Maybe I was going to live after all I decided.

I turned to the recovery room nurse with a grin and said “I can breathe now” to which he replied with a smirk

You could always breathe“.

Clearly the recovery room nurse and I were having completely different experiences.

While I was frantically gasping for oxygen, he was calmly telling me I had plenty of oxygen!

How could this be?

Well apparenetly dyspnea is the sensation of difficult breathing that does not correlate with oxygen levels in the body.  In other words, you THINK you can’t breathe but you really can.

It’s likely caused by anxiety and in my case coming out of surgery having the breathing tube removed just adds to it.

The cure? Pursed lip breathing! In other words, stop gasping frantically and slow it down.  Eventually it will subside.

This reminds me of my walk with God.  There are times I just don’t feel God with me.

I might be actively pursuing His Prescence in my life and yet I just feel like He’s not there.

I don’t know why these times happen but when they do it can really produce anxiety.  I’m desperately searching for God’s comforting prescence to give me that peace that I need.

The more I don’t feel it, the more I panic.

What’s the deal?? I’m trying desperately to feel Him in my life and…nothin’.

It’s way too easy to become frantic during these times and take a situation from bad to worse by questioning everything I’ve ever known!

Yet just like the recovery room nurse who told me my “O2 levels”  are fine, I have to remind myself that my “G-O-D levels” are fine.

He’s there even if we don’t feel it.  We can grip the siderails of our life and begin frantically grasping for some feeling we want but it won’t change a thing.

Our G-O-D levels are NOT the problem.

God is there whether we feel Him or not. He is living in us whether we feel it or not.

Just like pursed lip breathing was the cure for me during this episode, a similar method has worked for me in my spiritual life as well.

What is God’s very advice on this issue? Is it get panicked and frantic?  Nope.  This is what He said.

                                        Be still and know that I am God.   Psalm 46:10

In other words, slow down and stop letting your emotions and feelings control your belief system.

 Look at the facts.  You don’t feel Him with you but Jesus said “I am ALWAYS with you” (Matthew 28:20).

He even said in John 10:28 that “No one can snatch them out of My hand“.

And finally ….
                                         “Be strong. Take courage.  He’s right there with you.   
                                          He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”
                                          (Deuteronomy 3:16)

Breathing lessons in the hospital taught me a few things!

It reminded me that sometimes what I feel is not reality.


Me having a distorted view of reality?

Yep. It happens a lot I’m afraid.

But that’s what I love about God.  He never stops teaching me things even in the recovery room!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie Carson July 5, 2011 at 9:45 am

Oh, Holly! Having had episodes of panic attacks mainly related to chemical imbalances in my brain, I had a severe empathetic reaction to reading this post! Then I had an epiphany. I had read a facebook post earlier today that confused me because there was no scripture address with it but drew me back again and then I realized what it meant. Reading about your experience in the recovery room really clarified it. It said: ‎"Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you. Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you, because I love you. Beloved, I am there." So glad that 'chapter' is behind you and that the Lord was there in your breathing! He was as close to you as your next drawn breath. <3


Holly July 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm

That is great Debbie! I love that quote. It totally fits perfectly with this too! I know what you mean about panic attacks. I used to have them and they were awful. So scary! I don't have them often now but think one may have kicked in after surgery! Thank you so much for this comment. You are so right about everything!


Samantha July 9, 2011 at 1:34 am

Your amazing and those scriptures were exactly what I needed today! Thanks girl!


ReJoyce777 March 4, 2012 at 7:14 am

I just found your blog and am loving this. God is amazing in the ways He teaches us.


Callie ann Hanson March 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thank you so much! I just went in the hospital last tuesday for chest pain and they gave me nitro and the pain would go away. Well, after 3 days in the hospital. Echo Cardiogram… Resting Stress Test and A Chemical Stress Test everything goes right back to Anxiety and Panic Attacks. These stupid things have plagued me since the age of 24. They started when I moved with my husband and 2 children to Oregon. Moving away from my family evidently was traumatizing to me. So here I am at 50 having ups and downs with these attacks. They are the root of all of this to me. ARGH!!! I have to take it slow, purse my lips, and take it one day at a time. Thank you so much… I am going to keep reading your blog…on to the next entry! This is so cool!


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