Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

The Scare

About a month ago, I found myself with a very bad case of bronchitis; coughing nonstop and struggling to breathe normally. I chose to discontinue my yoga practice as bronchitis can do a number on the breathing part. After taking two different types of an antibiotic, the coughing subsided and my breathing became more restful. Only then did I slowly get back into my meditational yoga routine. Within just a few days I started noticing a rather searing pain in my side. I assumed I’d pulled muscle or something.

Yet the pain escalated. I talked with my husband about what I was feeling and where the pain was located. He suggested perhaps I had cracked a rib while coughing so violently from bronchitis. This came as a very rationale idea because with the many years living as an anorexic, my bone density is rather low so the propensity to crack a rib from coughing is not unheard of.

Heeding my commitment to living the healthiest life I can, I headed to the doctor so he could check this rib thing out. After answering a series of questions and an overall physical check, the doctor explained I might have cracked a rib but even if that were the case, there’s not much one can do other than take it easy for about 6 weeks with some ibuprofen for pain. However to be on the safe side, he suggested, and I agreed, an x-ray would be a good idea.

Off I went to get a picture taken of the rib cage. As a side note, there have been many moments the universe awakens me to how different my life is today as the result of recovery. Getting this type of x-ray was one of them. Years ago I had to lay on an x-ray table. I remember how painful that experience was; not because of the health issue requiring the x-ray, but because at my most severe state of anorexia, I had no body mass protecting my bones from the metal. I remember wishing the technician would hurry up so I could get off table. Yet there I was, lying on the same type of table and feeling rather comfortable shy the searing pain in my side.

I left the diagnostic center feeling good about myself for having closed the circle of investigation. About an hour later, as I was driving to the store, my cell phone rang. I recognized the number as that of my doctor’s office and was rather surprised to hear his voice on the other end. He said, “Well the good news is, no fracture in the rib. On the other hand, totally unrelated, we’re seeing a spot on your lung. Could you come back for a chest x-ray?”

Although I had pulled over when I took the call, I gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter. I opened my mouth to speak but the only words I could gather to say was, “Um, what?” I’m pretty sure he said some reassuring words about what he was seeing on the x-ray but all I could hear were the thoughts running through my head.

I thought of my father and the shock I felt hearing the words he had lung cancer. I thought there must be some mistake. No one said bronchitis could lead to a concerned tone in the voice of my doctor.

I turned the car around and drove home. This is precisely when one of the many miracles of recovery took over.

For the next several blog posts, I’m going to share how the lessons learned from those who have walked before me in healthy recovery helped to get me through one of the worst “scares” of my life. Calmly coming full circle from a simple check on a sore rib to exhaling in relief was an experience I never imagined would be mine. Through it all I kept thinking “somewhere in this madness I’ll find how my experience can benefit others”. I think I’ve found the way to try.

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