• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 243 (Radiation Treatment 5 of 30: A Nerd Moment)

    pauseforscience

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  2.56 miles;  Running Total: 202.00 miles)

    Day 243 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    Hang on tight, y’all. We’re going to have a nerd moment today.

    So, you want to hear something funny? Not ‘ha-ha’ funny, but ‘hey that’s really fuckin’ cool’ funny?

    Of course you do. That’s why you’re here.

    Well then strap in. We’re about to get scientific.

    Holding my breath during radiation treatment isn’t what I would call difficult. The whole session only lasts 25 minutes during which there are maybe six or eight rounds of actual treatment time. I only have to hold my breath for six to ten seconds during each round of treatment.

    Can you hold your breath for ten seconds?

    Go ahead. Give it a shot.

    Not too bad, right?

    However, I’ve noticed that some days holding my breath at the proper depth and for the right length of time requires a little more effort.

    The high-tech glasses that let me watch my breathing patterns show the yellow line rise with each breath, reach the blue stripe and turn green. When I hold my breath during treatment my job is to keep the green line inside the blue stripe.

    On the harder days the line tends to hover and tremble at the bottom of the blue stripe. I really have to concentrate to keep my breath in and I’m always grateful when the nurses come over the intercom and say, “Okay, breathe.”

    (In case you’re wondering, nothing bad happens if the green line falls out of the blue stripe. The radiation machines will detect that I’ve fallen out of the proper range and will shut off. But I do have to start the treatment over.)

    Okay, so here comes the cool nerd moment.

    The high-tech glasses have a graph at the bottom of the screen. I have a deep love for graphs and visual representations of data. They appeal to the mathematician in me.

    This graph shows me the rise and fall of each breath. And because of it I figured out a trick.

    On the days I work out in the morning before radiation it is so much easier to hold my breath at the proper depth and for the right length of time. My breath comes easily. I can keep the line inside the blue stripe with only a little effort.

    On the days I don’t work out the graph at the bottom of the screen tells me that my breathing is shallower. I don’t feel like I’m breathing any differently, but the data doesn’t lie.

    I’ve always known that working out makes me a calmer person. I’m sure there are all sorts of chemical reasons going on inside my body to say why that’s true. But I discovered this one purely by accident.

    Working out makes me calmer because my breathing is calmer.

    This must be why breathing exercises during meditation are so important. Or breathing properly during activities like yoga and pilates.

    Sound woo-woo? Stop right now and take a few deep breaths.

    Go on.

    I’ll wait.

    (sips coffee, checks Facebook)

    Okay, done? Do you notice you feel different? A little lighter? A little more in control?

    And that was only for a few seconds.

    Imagine how good you could feel doing that for thirty minutes or more.

    And I doubt you have to be a runner or do a strenuous workout to achieve these same results. Going for a walk would probably do the same thing.

    Today’s silver lining: Real live self-experimentation that demonstrates the mind-body connection.

    How’s that for cool science?!

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.

    xoxo,
    Meghan

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One Responseso far.

  1. Mom says:

    Yes, my nerdy daughter, you have flipped! That’s okay you’ll be home soon and then you can breathe all you want! Please do things like this on a regular basis! It helps for a long long long life! Love you, Mom

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