Taking My Life Back With COPD, Part 2

Editor's note: Taking My Life Back With COPD, Part 1 is the first installment in this series.

By learning to breathe and to not let the conversation overwhelm me, there was calm throughout my body.

More time for the things I enjoy

By focusing on my overall health, I am dedicating more time to exercise.
Exercise is so important. Since I have exercise-induced asthma, I use my inhaler before starting. A doctor said that’s how I should do that. It makes such a difference, from the inside out. It’s important to come up with an exercise plan and to discuss it with your doctor. This is for your overall health.

By taking my life back with COPD, I am returning to the things I enjoy. I think of it as building memories. Homemade is so fun. It’s therapeutic and hopefully brings joy. Photos and memories are so important for this generation and beyond. For myself and for my family. The crafts are created for the individual. I have quite an inventory of craft supplies. Some things will be given and other things sold.

There are hindrances

That said, there are hindrances. I have COPD and asthma. There are allergies and a very painful back and joints with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

These craft items have been stored in boxes, totes, and on shelves. They are intertwined with photo things. They have to be moved, gone through, and dusted. Dust causes my eyes to swell shut, so I have to limit myself. Moving boxes and bending throws my backs and legs into overwhelming pain and spasms. When these things get too bad, it’s usually time for a shower and bed. I’m getting good at walking around with swollen eyes that don’t see. As my doctors say, “always carry your Epi-pens”. I always have two and the emergency department is less than 10 minutes away.

We do not have anyone to help us. By taking my life back I have to pace myself. It’s time to celebrate me again. It’s important to remember that “slow wins the race”. Every day there is more satisfaction.

Making peace with myself

Part of taking myself back needs to be making peace with myself. This is the hardest part. I need to accept that I am basically homebound. That I can’t be around indoor pools or outdoor fire pits. It's so difficult to cope outside in the heat and humidity. In this river country, there are a lot of allergens and mold. Even the neighbors' dryer sheets get overwhelming.

There are times when I feel sorry for myself. I want to cry, but tears don’t come with these dry eyes. It's wonderful to be invited but never know until the day of if I’ll be able to do something. If appearance matters, I tell anyone thinking of coming over to give a couple of days notice, so that I make sure that I don’t clean or dust. It took me some time to realize what was causing these reactions - it was dusting or cleaning before visitors come over.

Support from my loved ones

My kids always start looking for my eyes to react and swell shut. Then my breathing. At first, it's cute, then it may be a cue that I am struggling. My daughters turn into caring medics. My husband is the best to know what to do and when to go to the emergency department. If he isn’t here, he reminds me to stay off of ladders, no to this or that. He is my balance. I need reminders because silly me can still feel invincible. Yet I'm known to get dizzy and fall.

It’s so hard to feel left out and left behind. At least they ask and invite. When the time comes, I can decide what I can or rather should do. If I should or shouldn't go. Too often I feel that I ruin the party because everyone worries about doing something that may cause a reaction. Too often I know that it wouldn't be good for my health either. But they ask, and that's what means so much!

My husband is creating joy for me

I can’t get out often, but I can look out the windows. He has created a whimsical garden, rather a whimsical yard for me with the colorful metal sculptures that I can see from my kitchen window. There is actually a bug sculpture hanging on the shed that I can see from the bathroom. What joy I find in these.

It’s so important that we have something to brighten our lives so that even as we struggle with health issues, we can find a reason to smile. I’m taking my life back with COPD and everything else.

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