A human being is only breath and shadow.

~ Sophocles

Photo by muratseyit, courtesy of iStockphoto (Fluid appears as white densities in lungs.)

My father was never one to rest for long periods. If he was still, he was either in Bible study or very exhausted. One of the most frustrated times I remember he had was when pulmonary edema debilitated him.

  • Pulmonary edema is the malady of having fluid in the lungs.

When fluid fills these air sacs, people struggle to breathe. My father suffered this from cardiomyopathy, a swollen and malfunctioning heart. His cardiac function before he died was only at twenty percent of its capacity. And his respirations demonstrated it.

  • This condition causes its victims to be short of breath.

Walking across the room made him have difficulty breathing. Any movement winded him – just as it does all others who endure it.

  • Lack of oxygen fatigues the body.

Again, Daddy couldn’t do very much without having to take a breather. No one can if they can’t catch their breath.

  • Lack of oxygen causes muscles to cramp.

Every athlete knows this agony. More and more suffer these sustained contractions at the end of games because of the fatigue that comes with exertion. My father suffered them as well from the reduced oxygen in his blood stream.

  • The lack of oxygen contributes to acidotic blood.

The body’s design calls for a certain maintenance pH. When the human body retains carbon dioxide, it lowers the pH. The resultant acidosis makes the muscles cramp more, adding to the person’s anguish.

  • People hyperventilate, trying to get more oxygen.

This only compounds the problem. People suffering from panic attacks hyperventilate. Nausea ensues from changes in the blood pressure. Paresthesias follow. That’s why people get numbness, tingling, or pain in their faces and limbs when they panic.

Some will faint from their anxiety because the body is trying to stop the de-oxygenation process.

  • In recent posts, we’ve discussed a Nazi torture called aufbinden.[1] [2]

The victims of this torture experienced similar woes. When they fainted, they died if not revived by their tormentors.

  • And those crucified did even more so.

If suffocating from the process of crucifixion wasn’t enough, they had to endure severe cramping as well. But this added to their misery. As horrible as these things were though, pulmonary edema only compounded their agony.

  • The crucified endured the effects of pulmonary edema on top of everything else.

Part of the futile cycle that resulted in the suspended victims is that their heart muscles spasmed out of control just like all the other muscle groups did.

  • The crucified had severe chest pain.

If you consider all of the agonies we’ve discussed in recent blogs, this is yet another woe we must add to those tortures. The heart begins to convulse due to the tetany, the lack of oxygen, the blood loss, the pain, and the heavy burden of trying to keep its master alive.

  • The heart begins to fatigue as well.

As the heart fatigues, the blood vessels become congested. The reduced cardiac output dams up the vessels, and they begin to leak fluids into the cavities resulting in edema in the extremities, pericardium (heart sac), and lungs.

  • This edema in the body – especially the heart and lungs – only worsens the agony.

It makes the person feel more short of breath because water fills the lungs rather than oxygen. The person begins drowning in his own bodily fluids.

  • This condition fulfills yet another sign of Jonah.[3] [4]

Jonah nearly drowned in his own sin.[5] Jesus, in His own fluids produced by our sin.


[3] Luke 11:29-32; Jonah 1 – 4.