Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Curmudgeon finds that breathing is more optional than commonly supposed

There was an article online recently about an athlete -- a football player, I think -- who has decided to increase the difficulty of his normal off-season workout by wearing some sort of mask or filter that limits his air intake.

I couldn't find the article this morning to link it -- I can never find anything when I'm looking for it -- but even a non-athlete like myself knows that you need more air, not less, when you do something strenuous, like exercise. In my case, just standing up can sometimes trigger huffing and puffing.

The athlete apparently hopes that, when he plays his sport -- without the filter, of course -- he will be that much stronger, that much more refreshed, because of his unusual conditioning routine.

Of course, the athlete probably spent a significant sum of money on this oxygen-limiting equipment. He might have been better off just by coming to Chicago for the spring.

We were warned that our brutal winter would be followed by a rough spring for allergies. Apparently, all the trees and flowering plants, their revival delayed by winter's refusal to depart, would make up for lost time, pumping out the pollen in record volumes.

Sadly, these gloomy forecasts seem to have fallen well short of the mark. It's much worse than predicted.

My nose is constantly running, except when I'm sneezing, but no matter how much stuff comes out of my nose, there doesn't seem to be room for air to come in through the nasal passages to my brain. My pockets are bulging with used and about-to-be-used "facial tissues." (Remember, all you aspiring writers out there, that we're not supposed to refer to kleenex as kleenex, especially when the "facial tissues" aren't Kleenex, but Puffs. So, for purposes of the written word, in order to avoid any legal unpleasantness, it is strongly recommended that we use the term "facial tissues," even though you've never heard that term used in real life.) And, still, despite all the nose-blowing, dripping, and sneezing, my sinuses remain impenetrable.

It is commonly supposed that humans are required to breathe a certain amount of oxygen in order to survive. I'm beginning to have my doubts. First there was that kid who hid in the wheel well of a jet that flew to Hawaii. According to generally accepted medical belief, the young man should have asphyxiated before he froze to death. But he didn't do either. When the wheels came down on the Hawaiian airport tarmac, he dropped out of the wheel well, a little unsteady on his pins, but otherwise apparently unharmed.

But, of course, it's my own experiences -- or, rather, the lack of my experiencing any significant airflow in roughly the past month -- that is pushing me to the conclusion that breathing is not nearly as necessary as we thought.

Because I can't breathe properly, I'm more tired than usual, and grouchier. But it's not all bad. When the allergy season started, I thought I'd developed a cold. I never drink when I have a cold. I've found that I get even more congested if I try. But then, slowly, because my oxygen-depleted brain is not functioning at anything near peak efficiency, I realized that I did not have a cold at all, but just horrible, miserable, unceasing spring allergies. Drinking wouldn't make that any better -- but it wouldn't make it any worse either. So I could drink again. (When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Isn't that what we're taught? Long Suffering Spouse likes lemonade. Actually, I prefer a slice or wedge of lemon in my vodka. But to each their own.)

I'm also taking cold and allergy pills on occasion (not when I'm drinking -- if you value your liver, that's a bad idea even if you don't have a cold). The problem with taking cold and allergy pills (other than the interruption of one's evening cocktails) is that these pills are apparently useful in the making of methamphetamine, typically referred to as "meth" or "crystal meth." I'm not certain what the connection is; I'm not inclined to look up any recipes. I find it hard to believe, however, that my 40-pill package of cold and allergy medicine could be transmuted into any commercially useful quantity of the illicit drug. Nevertheless, in order to procure the pills, I must produce a driver's license and sign all sorts of small-print disclaimers, before the pharmacist will produce the package from behind the counter. With the spring we're having, I worry that I'm going to wind up on a DEA watch-list because of all the pills I've signed for. I'll bet there's a lot of folks around here who are similarly worried. I know I'm not the only sufferer.

Meanwhile, if only I could, I'd like to take a deep breath and get some work done.

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