The Dandelion and Me

“Now – BLOW! BLOW, BLOW, BLOW! Keep going! Keep going! Go as long and as hard as you can, Miriam! I know you can do it! Blow all the petals off the flower. You can do it!”

The instructions for a pulmonary function spirometry test (A test performed by pulmonologist to measure how well you can breathe) are so ingrained that I can do it now as an adult without prompting.

As a child, though, I had help from a Registered Respiratory Therapist, who typically also used incentive animation to help me know if I was doing the test properly or not. These cute cartoons ranged from blowing out candles, to filling up a balloon, to my personal favorite – blowing the petals off a flower.

The one that has always remained in my memory was the dandelion. When I started the spirometry test and breathed in, the dandelion had all its little seed pods intact. The purpose of the “game“ was to breathe out so long and hard that all the little dandelion pods would come off the flower, ending in my ultimate victory. Needless to say, due to my severe lung disease and constant infections due to Immunodeficiency disease (which was yet to be discovered), I was never able to blow out all the candles, blow-up the entire balloon, or worse still, blow all the beautiful little dandelion seed pods off that elusive flower. It seemed always beyond my reach.

Because of this, I guess I’ve always held that secret challenge in my heart. Whenever I was out and about and saw a little dandelion on the side of the road, I would secretly pick it up and try to blow the pods off. I tried to never make a big deal out of it, out of fear of being asked what I was up to. If anyone did ask me, I would merely smile and make some clever quip about a weed in the grass, or some sarcastic comment about being bored and needing to be better entertained. But it was always a personal test – could I get all the pods off the flower? Would I win my challenge that day?

Creating and designing my own website was a lot more challenging than I had initially anticipated. I had to take my personality, my style, my own crazy brain and apply it to a tactile piece of technology. I had to work with others (albeit far more genius than I) to come up with colors, fonts, a logo, and a theme that would represent my journey and message. Somehow I had to personify me, make people see ME when they came to But, Still Breathing.

But how? And with what?

After my transplant, I was assigned to go to pulmonary rehab in order to strengthen my new lungs. One of the exercises was to blow up a balloon. You start out by just trying to blow up the balloon by itself. Then you graduate to blowing up the balloon while lying on your back. And finally, you blow up the balloon while lying on your back and having a soft weight placed on your diaphragm. To an “every-day-healthy-person” this may sound super easy, even ridiculous. However, I have to tell you, that the first time I tried to blow up the balloon, the only thing that happened was that I spit back in my own face! For real. I’m not kidding. Or exaggerating.

The flash that came back to my mind was my childhood and that silly dandelion animation. And suddenly I felt like a failure. But somehow that feeling spawned inside me a determination to work hard, and then work harder, and then work harder still.

“BLOW! BLOW! BLOW! I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!”

Eventually, sooner than I thought possible, I was able to blow up the balloon with no problems. I felt extremely victorious and strong. Which I suppose was the whole point all along.

As a child, not being able to blow the seedpods off that stupid dandelion animation was always a source of frustration for me. But, that frustration created inside me some kind of work ethic, a need to try harder, a need to get better, a need to do everything in my power, within my limits to be as healthy as possible, as strong as possible. So in a sense, the dandelion became a symbol of those feelings from then, until now. A motivator.

Oh, and just as an update, I have since been able to blow the pods off every stinking dandelion I’ve seen lately, and then some. Haha! I win!

So, that’s why I chose the dandelion as the main theme, logo, and symbol for the relaunch of But, Still Breathing. It carries the thoughts and feelings of breath, strength, determination, work, hope. All the things that I wish to develop in myself and to convey to others.

Thank you to all of you that have supported me and helped me along the way. The journey continues.

Love,

Miriam

“I do not believe in the weeds. A weed is simply a flower that someone decides is in the wrong place. Why should the Taraxacum struggle in the cracks? It deserves an efficacious spot in which to flourish!”

-Sister Monica Joan, Call the Midwife

25 Comments
  1. Jamie

    Loved reading this!! Your determination and endurance..in everything you do is amazing! Love you!!

  2. Elizabeth O

    What a powerful and inspiring post. For those of us dealing with health issues, it helps to read about what others are going through and how they manage to keep their chin up. Hugs and healing love to you!

    • Miriam

      Thank you Elizabeth! I all so so happy you were able to gain something from my sorry, & I wish you very well in your health journey. ??????

  3. nicole

    Welcome to the world of blogging! Love your first post!

    • Miriam

      thank you?

  4. Kim

    Congrats on your first post! Isn’t it exciting? And wow you came in with a bang! I really enjoyed this, and I’m bookmarking your blog so I can read every single post you put out. Do you have any social media channels yet? Would love to follow on those as well!

    • Miriam

      Wow! THANK YOU! This is very kind. Yes I’m on all main social media channels with username butstillbreathing (except Twitter @Mstillbreathing). I appreciate your support very much???

  5. Josie

    What a great first bblog post! Glad you beat the dandelion!!

    • Miriam

      Thank you! Appreciate your support 🙂

  6. Annie

    This is so beautiful and meaningful! I love your blog and it’s unique niche! The dandelion is perfect ?

    • Miriam

      Thank you! Getting such kind words from other bloggers means a lot!!

  7. Susan

    We all have things we have to deal with, but you teach us how to do it with such strength, faith and grace! You are amazing!

    • Miriam

      Thank you, Susan! ?

  8. Anja

    Love this post and the final design of your website! I love you very much and I’m very proud of you. Congratulations on your victory.
    Love, Mom

    • Miriam

      Thanks, Mom! Couldn’t do it without you!

  9. Rosemary

    You are giving all you have to live your life to the fullest extent possible while lovingly encouraging others who are fortunate enough to cross paths with you. Thank you for your wonderful example and the love you show?

    • Miriam

      I miss you so much Rosemary! ? thank you for your love ???

  10. Bobbye DuBose

    Enjoyed your first blog & look forward to all the ones in the future. God bless you & your family

    • Miriam

      Thank you for your support Mrs. DuBose❤️?❤️

  11. Pam

    Wonderful! Can’t wait for future entries! Your so very inspirational.

    • Miriam

      ❤️❤️❤️

  12. Mary Rhame

    Miriam, through your faith and persistence you are such a breath of encouragement. In telling of your journey I know that others will find hope, peace and comfort because they can see that within each of us is the ability to face our trials with triumph when we realize we are not alone. Thank you for your love and friendship.

    • Miriam

      Thank you, Mary. I only hope that I can help others to feel they are not alone. ? your friendship is special to me as well!!

  13. Joy Crane

    Miriam you have always been an inspirational to me…love you!

    • admin

      Thank you Joy! You the best nurse ever!

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