Breathe.  Just breathe.

... We're five weeks into respiratory block.  We've learnt about lungs that have been so irritated and inflamed that they're fibrotic and those that have slowly worn away to the broken mesh of emphysema.  Breathing has become pathological.  It's enough to make you short of breath.

I walk around hospital, my young and capable lungs allowing me to run up or down the stairs (albeit slowly as heels and stairs make for a poor combination when in a hurry).  I hardly think about my breathing.  It's when I walk into "that" ward, the one with the elderly people leaning forward on their elbows, nose prongs delivering oxygen to their hungry bodies that would otherwise be cyanotic, mouth pursed to maintain constant positive pressure that I realise how lucky I am.

Breathing isn't a conscious process.  Well, it isn't for the most part.  I don't keep myself awake at night thinking about how I must remember to keep breathing.  I don't put it on my to-do list.  It just happens.  We inspire in a 1:2 ratio with expiration.

It seems strange then, that so many people struggle with inspiration.  Inspiration in the sense of mental revival.   Strange, to me, because our word is filled with the base elements of mental stimulation.  Sure, there's as much mental pollution as there is environmental heading into my lungs.  It just seems odd that, despite the parklands, inventions and ideas of those surrounding us, many people struggle to remove the constant waste products of their thoughts to be replaced by those newly inspired ones from daily experience.  It's as if half of the world is thinking in a brown paper bag.

My friend, B, asked me how I could be inspired to do all the things that fill my life.  How could I work and study medicine and volunteer, while maintaining some form of social life and a passable level of sanity?  While I could have answered that lack of sleep goes a long way to getting more done in my day, I told him the truth.  I don't know.

Perhaps I am just exceptionally good at expiring all of the waste products in my head.  Perhaps my mental V/Q ratio is perfect for inspiratory perfusion.  Or maybe I've learnt to take inspiration in my stride, rather than seeking it out.

I can't tell you what inspires me.  Nor can I tell you who or what I inspire.  In many ways, I feel like my process of inspiration is just as natural mentally as it is through that fantastic pleural pressure that keeps me breathing.  Perhaps my mind has great elastic recoil.  I enjoy being inspired.  I enjoy thinking about new and different things that come my way.  I love learning.  Learning, not out of a text book or in a lecture but in person, with patients who can tell me what it's like, with X-rays showing me the correlation between pathology and presentation.  I love learning through seeking, feeling and doing.

There is something fantastic about how much information is literally at my finger tips these days.  I can jump onto a computer and find the answer to almost any question, as long as I can ask it.  I like asking.  I've learnt to demand answers to even the most simple of questions.  Sometimes simple questions have complex answers.  Sometimes my question will inspire us both to find a better solution.

So what inspires me?  Right now, inspiration is inspiring.  With each breath comes the capacity to think new, innovative and mind-boggling ideas.


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