red scooter used for mobility

3 Products That Make My COPD Life Easier

Twenty one years of having COPD had passed before the progression of my illness forced me to retire from work. Another three years later I was prescribed oxygen after falling blood oxygen levels started to make me dangerously ill. Using oxygen has allowed me to get my life back. My vital organs such as my heart is now protected, although as most of you guys know using oxygen does not mean becoming breathless is a thing of the past. Amazingly, even my wife Lynne assumed that because I now used oxygen I could do what I used to, that running, skipping if I wanted, was all on the table. If only that was true. No sadly, although recovery from any activity is much faster, breathlessness remains on activity. We are prescribed oxygen to raise blood saturation levels to protect our heart and other organs. Without which we would most likely die.

My FEV1 fell to less than 30%, today it is at around just 25%, and my breathlessness, and often exacerbation, were a cause for concern. I had to find a way to make life easier, to allow me to ‘have a life’. To take back some control. I needed to find ways to enjoy life while if possible becoming less breathless. That meant looking for products that might help me meet that aim.

During the last few years I have employed some major aids that I call essential. Each making life more enjoyable. I now sleep better. Am able to use the whole of my house with ease, and to drive to the seaside for a trip along the promenade, or into the city to enjoy a little shopping.

So which aids do I now use that I value most, and which you are most likely to find helpful at the severe stage?

An adjustable bed

The first of my aids was an adjustable bed. At one time I like many of you guys would prop my head up with as many pillows as possible in trying to help me to breathe easier, and get a good nights sleep. Lying flat just did not do it for me. I would wake congested, and my breathing would be worse.

The pillow trick failed miserably. Often I would wake, pillows fallen to the floor as I thrashed around in bed, laying flat, and breathing bad – until I dreaded going to bed. That was when I decided a new adjustable bed was the way forward. A solution to help my breathing, and enable me to sleep better. Now I use only one soft pillow, raising the head of the bed to the position I am most comfortable with. This does vary. At times of infections I raise the head more than other times. I still wake a couple of times a night, but that seems a part of COPD. But not because of lying flat or chest congestion. During times of exacerbation the bed also helps me to be less congested when I rise in the morning.

A stair lift

As I progressed into the last stage climbing the stairs at home became harder, until more than once climbing the stairs to use the bathroom I became so out of breath I decided to stay upstairs. Unable and unwilling to attempt that feat again, at least for a few hours.

My stairs had become my personal Mount Everest. A move was considered to a one story property. But that would have been expensive, and anyhow we wanted to stay where we were. Although quite expensive a stair lift was a great choice. It is such a joy to sit in the chair, press a button, and move to the top landing, arriving at the top not struggling for breath.

We have to also consider that as our COPD slowly progresses, walking the stairs can become dangerous as we will be more likely to fall. Chair lifts can be costly, although grants are available to the disabled to help with some or all the cost in some places, and all the UK.

A mobility scooter.

As my mobility decreased I simply did not enjoy going out. After all how is it possible to enjoy the great outdoors when having to stop every few paces to regain breath. Now having to carry a 7 pound oxygen bottle wherever I went, for oxygen needs made going anywhere much harder, many times all but impossible unless the walk was very short. It was obvious I was going nowhere unless I found a way to make life easier. I had at that point long stopped enjoying going out because it was such a struggle. While I also felt how very unfair it was to Lynne to have to keep stopping, and for her to not enjoy her walks when with me.

I remember a trip to the South West of England, and a visit to Paignton Zoo for a day out a few years ago. The venue was hilly, and there was not a chance I would make it around the zoo, let alone enjoy myself. The zoo hired scooters to those with a disability. I hired one as I wanted to enjoy my visit.

I remember today the pure joy I felt as though yesterday, as I rode around enjoying the many sights. No longer was I struggling for breath. I was enjoying a day out. Probably the first day I had truly enjoyed for many years. The deal was done. I knew then for certain, I had to buy my own scooter. “Red” was about to be born.

Within a short while I had my scooter safely tucked away in the car. Those that know me on social networking will often notice me referring to “red”. It might seem corny to many but it seemed a good name as my scooter is indeed red. I can now, with “red”, go to amazing places. Shopping, around amusement parks, or as I have done ride around coastal paths. Department stores are easily navigated, and Lynne can walk along the promenade as fast as she wants while I ride alongside her.

tramper

I also hire a large scooter called a tramper often for photography expeditions on rough terrain. These machines can climb mountains. The picture above is one of me out in the wild taking photographs. For safety reasons I have to be accompanied, and have to ensure I have ample oxygen with me for the time we will be ‘in the wilds’.

I have a hoist  to make lifting red into and out the car easy. The scooter is strong enough to carry  my photography equipment when out for a shoot, oxygen sits on the back seat so now as long as the weather is fine I can enjoy life outdoors. I am accompanied when out and about for safety. As if I was to have a problem I would need help. But as you can see, life can still be enjoyed. Even us at the end stage of COPD.

I hope you have found this article about my personal aids useful. I am lucky that I have been able to get these items over the last few years to make life easier. If any of you guys have any aids that help you, or you decide to invest in one of the three I have, I would love to hear from you!

Until I write again. Breathe easy and enjoy your day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (4)
  • coreypotts
    2 years ago

    Derek
    I wanted to take a few mins and tell you how extremely grateful I am to see and read your articles. I sent a email to you and John through the site contact and they suggested me to do it here. My mother has severe copd for a long time ( I would imagine end stage ) and I am finding strength and hope in reading your articles. I can’t put into words the anxiety I have on a constant basis worrying.about her. I joined this website to get knowledge on anything I can about copd , new treatments ,the right medications and to try and help keep her motivated to stay in the game of life. She lives by herself and manages fairly well most of the time. In the spring she had a serious infection of psnomia which required hospitalzation and a ventilator . While in process of her recovery we all were educated about co2 retention and too much oxygen. My brother lives close and myself about 1 1/2 hrs away and both try to do what we can. Your articles I forwarded on to her to show her that HOPE really does exist and that any activity instead of sitting on the couch is so crucial in trying to fight and slow this disease. I dont know what it’s like to have And live with copd. I can only speak from what I see my mom suffer with every time you write an article it resonates deeply You are a true inspiration and no doubt a champion to many on here. I thank you for your continued fight and your dedication to helping others navigate a bit eaiser from your experiences through this disease. I hope to sometime conversate with you. I thank both you and John for your kindness and all that you do. Much gratitude. Corey

  • Derek Cummings author
    2 years ago

    Many thanks for your kind words Corey. Sadly infections are a part of our life – with pneumonia being an often complication. But we do get over it even if it does take a little while. I had pneumonia several times but each time recovered to my previous breathing ability. We just have to stay positive, and as I say move that body. If your mother has facebook maybe she would like to join myself and over 400 others on my helpsite ‘We strive to breath easier’. Derek

  • notnow49
    2 years ago

    I am not yet on oxygen, but do still have to stop every 20-30 ft to get my breath and get caught up. I have discovered the Ninebot by Segway. It is the newest model that they have, just came out this past June. It is smaller and doesnt have handlebars, it is guided by a smaller bar between the knees. We went to Vegas back in September and Oh My Gosh, what a life-saver. I was able to zip up and down the strip with no problems whatsoever. I can now go to the mall with out dread, and a number of other places without being breathless. According to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the Segway can go anywhere that a wheelchair or scooter can go. Some security people in some of the casino’s stopped me and told me that I couldnt ride that inside the casino. I showed them what I had copied off of the ADA site, and once they called their supervisors, they were very kind and told me to go right ahead and please be careful. Some of them were very rude and self-righteous until they seen the paper from ADA and their bosses told them to back off. It has been such a life-saver for me and I am able to take my dogs walking with out stopping 3-5 times to catch my breath around the 1-1/2 block area. It only cost $800 at Sams club here in the U.S., but it is worth many thousands to me !

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi again, Deano. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of success with this mobility device, in your case, a Segway. We appreciate you sharing your experiences here with our online community.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

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