A man walks on a treadmill that is the length of a football field.

My Lungs Are Doing a Flip-Flop: Part 1

Can you walk the length of a football field?

That’s getting to be a regular question from my pulmonologist. I’m sure he’s heard that when I get to my appointment in the hospital, I have to go in through admissions or the emergency department.

We are still taking Covid-19 restrictions at the hospital and clinics.

Seeing my pulmonogist

Once there, someone usually has a wheelchair ready to take me back to the rooms where this traveling pulmonologist is seeing patients. He travels to smaller communities one or two days a week.

I can’t walk the length of a football field if I am being pushed around in a wheelchair. Appointments are always good, seriously. With COPD, it's very good!

COPD sets the tone for overall health.

Questions I ask myself at every appointment

  • Am I doing something right, or do I need to do it differently?
  • Is there something that needs to change?
  • It's important to figure out why we feel the way we do and what we can or can't do about it.

Appointments are usually good. Except for the part where the nurse says, "step on the scale. We need to get your weight". Weight is my least favorite topic! Unless, however, I have lost a pound or ten.

Yet, I understand the need to weigh in: Do we know why we lose weight? It's also important to figure out why you are gaining weight. Are you eating too many calories, carbs and more, or is it fluid from medications or illness?

Can you think of other reasons to weigh in? Please share in the comments.

We also discuss low oxygen at rest to decent PFTs (pulmonary function tests).

As well as my discussion about struggling to breathe when I climb steps and more. With this doctor, I can talk about anything. If only my other doctors listened as well.

Trust is so important.

Comorbidities and doctor discussions

Sleep apnea is a big topic, too. It can affect breathing so it can affect my COPD.

My pulmonologist said that he likes the improvement that he is seeing in my sleep apnea reports. He can see these on the hospital and office computers at any time. There are times when chronic bronchitis seems to be my main complaint.

Chronic bronchitis, too, falls under the umbrella of COPD, with emphysema and the genetic form of Alpha-1.

It was time for a change.

It was time to stop the Advair and my wonder drug, Spiriva. I didn’t feel good about that because I could remember what it was like before Spiriva.

When the doctor explained that things weren't working for me, it made sense to try something different. This change in medications is making a positive difference.

The first is called Duo-Neb for short. Its official name is Ipratropium Bromide and Albuterol Sulfate. Secondly is Budesonide.

Pro-Air is a rescue inhaler that I've used for years. I am to use it as needed. Nucala is an injection that I take once a month for asthma.

It sure is an adjustment doing nebs three times a day. The pill form is much more convenient; however, not nearly as effective.

Meeting goals one at a time

Guess what? At my last doctor's appointment, I walked the length of a football field!

I walked outside to get into my car, then I drove to the front and had to walk to the main hospital door.

Once in, someone walked beside me, just in case I fell. I could tell they thought I should take the wheelchair.

I told them I wanted to surprise my doctor by walking the length of a football field. From that door, I walked to the elevator and the back of the hospital for my doctor's appointment. After my appointment, I backtracked to my car.

Woohoo! That walk was the length of a football field!

I can walk up and down the steps more often without stopping at home. Without feeling like my lungs are about to burst.

It does happen, but not like before. Before, I felt like I was out of the air before getting to the top of the steps.

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