I Huffed and I Puffed

One Size Does NOT Fit All

One Size Does NOT Fit All

I went today for a pulmonary function test.  It was the first one I’ve ever had done so I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  I had asked my doctor if they were going to stick needles into me or do anything invasive and she assured me that it was just a series of episodes where I’d breathe into devices.  That sounded easy enough.

My perky young technician ushered me into the testing room and told me to sit down into this egg-shaped device.  I started to make a crack about how it looked just like the egg chair from the Mork and Mindy show but then I realized that she would have no idea what I was talking about so I just sat down obediently into the contraption.

Next she pulled a machine over towards my head and told me that I needed to put my mouth around the mouthpiece in the middle.  I took one look at that mouthpiece and told her there was no way my little mouth was going to fit over that thing.

“You’ll need to get the child’s size out,” I told her.  “My dentist even has to use child’s-size bite wings on me to take xrays because the adult ones won’t even fit inside my mouth.”

“Just give it a try,” she urged.  “We don’t have child sizes.”

I leaned forward and tried to cram the thing into my mouth but to no avail.

Next attempt - removing the mouthpiece.

Next attempt – removing the mouthpiece.


“OK,” she said.  “We’ll take off the mouthpiece and we’ll just use the filter only.”

I tried again and this time I fit it in UNTIL she noticed that I just had my lips around the darn thing and it wasn’t inside my teeth.

“Oh, no…..you have to put it inside your teeth in order to get a good seal,” she instructed.

Well, I could do it but just barely and it was highly uncomfortable.  I had to basically unhinge my jaw and the thought of keeping it like that for the hour that the testing was going to take was just not an option.

Bring on the cardboard insert.

Bring on the cardboard insert.

“I have one more thing we can try,” she said, “and if this doesn’t work, we just won’t be able to do the testing.”

She went next door and came back with a cardboard tube which she stuck into the filter hole and then she squished it into an oval shape.  Eureka!  That worked.

Then came the tests.  The first series involved her shutting me into the egg chamber and sucking the air out of the room so that I was totally dependent on getting my air from the tube stuck in my mouth.  Oh, did I mention the fact that she had a high-tech version of a clothespin clamped on my nose?

It was all a bit of a challenge because I have a VERY small opening between the top of my tongue and the roof of my mouth.  That’s why I have sleep apnea.  For some reason, when she’d suck the air out of the chamber, it would create a vacuum and the top of my mouth would drop down and stick to my tongue.  I kept trying not to panic while, at the same time, coax the throat area to open up.  But the best was yet to come.

Some of the tests required me to pant around the tube and then she’d cut off the air completely BUT expect me to keep panting for a period of about 3 seconds.  It felt like an eternity.  Believe me, when you’ve spent your entire life struggling to breathe with a congested nose, you build up a VERY strong anti-suffocation reflex.  I explained this to her on one of the short breaks and asked her to please get me out of there if I started pounding on the glass.  I made it through, though.

Halfway through the testing she announced that she needed to prick my finger for some blood.  Oh, oh……a needle!  I was still explaining about how I don’t like needles and how I always sing, when she swabbed my finger with alcohol and jabbed.  I immediately broke into a chorus of “Who Put the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.”  The thought did cross my mind that I really hoped she wasn’t Irish and wouldn’t take offense.

I actually enjoyed the nebulizer treatment that came next.   I just pretended that I was a dragon and watched myself breathe smoke out of the end of the tube.  Then we repeated some of the tests again after the Albuterol kicked in and I was free to go home.

Now I just have to wait for the results to see if anything shows up to explain these bronchial spasm bouts I’ve been having.  I was happy that I survived all the huffing and puffing. Although, I am a descendant of the Wolf clan of the Vikings so “huffing and puffing” shouldn’t be a stretch for this “wolf.”



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