Do I Have Chronic Lung Disease?

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

About six or seven years ago I began suffering terrific bouts of bronchitis every winter. Severe hacking coughs and briefer bouts of fever. Sometimes I would resort to antibiotics but I didn’t miss much time in the office. I smoked a few years as a rebellious adolescent but the most visible sign of lung damage was from living in the southwest during training. Ubiquitous fungal infections in Arizona left my chest x-ray looking like swiss cheese. And my functional capacity had always been poor, reflecting minor but tight curves in my spine restricting the motion of my rib cage. This had never held me back in sports although a knife-like pain between my shoulders was my constant companion most of my early adult life.

In my late 40’s and early 50’s I took to running stadium steps and riding my bike to work for several years. Each spring I would return to Franklin and Marshall colleges small stadium, wishing I could run the track but my knees much preferred the steps. Neither the 25-minute bike route nor the stadium steps would ever get easier over several months despite consistent effort on my part.

I truly began to wonder about my lung status over several years of consistent bronchitis episodes. I had already met the strict definition of chronic lung disease. True to my stubborn nature, I declined to acknowledge the episodes in any way. Once during those years before I met my wife, I was dating a nurse who pulled the car off the road to ask me if I was alright. I didn’t despair. I merely continued to pursue my training with the taiji master and receive occasional osteopathic treatments. Master Sam Tam had already done much to reform my health and vitality, from resolving middle-aged stomach reflux and refractory tendonitis to giving me boundless energy for the first time in my life.

Then the episodes stopped as suddenly as they began. More mysteriously, I had more enjoyable bike rides. Most interestingly, when I returned to F&M stadium, I could run those steps 30 times without getting winded on my first day back! Something had changed, and the explanation could not be found in Western science and medicine. The effect of training had always been attenuated by some mitigating factor. Once removed I not only had more cardiopulmonary endurance (in the absence of training), I also ceased to become ill every winter.

This factor in my health and lung performance related to clearing the meridians of Chinese medicine. Emerging science shows the meridians to exist in the trajectories described in their ancient texts, and also all over the surface of the organ they are named for. With the help of Master Sam Tam I began to develop an ability to work with meridians. A period of 8-10 years was required to gain new skills and rewire my brain to include this perspective in addition to my osteopathic approach. I gained a foothold of insight into the functional substrate of Chinese medicine, the mysterious qi or energy. I am forever grateful to Master Tam for sharing his teaching and restoring my health.