Living With COPD is a Full-Time Job!
The alarm goes off. Get up, walk across the room and turn the oxygen concentrator up a single notch. Make the bed.
Morning routine with COPD
Get dressed and walk into the dining room for that particular chair that makes it easiest to put on my running shoes. Trip over my oxygen cord!
Stand up, place my foot on the chair, and tie the laces.
Walk into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. Go to the cabinet, grab the satchel holding my medications.
The weather has a big impact on my day
Sit at the counter by the window to watch the weather. Check my weather app. Is it going to be hot? Will it be humid? Do I need to reconsider traveling, even though it’s a relatively short distance?
Keeping track of medications and oxygen
Walk to the refrigerator to get some cold water. Grab a glass from the cabinet. Zip open my medication satchel. Grab the Symbicort, Spiriva, Mucinex for my COPD. And more medications for my high blood pressure.
Walk back to the bedroom to hang up my oxygen hose and turn off the concentrator. Put on my backpack with the portable oxygen tank. Walk out to the garage.
I need to check and see how many oxygen tanks (“D’s”) I have and if I need to call the provider for more.
I usually order 8 tanks for a two-week period. I’m down 6.
Go back into the house and call up the oxygen distribution company and place an order.
“We’ll have it delivered tomorrow, Mr. Davitt,” says a very pleasant voice on the other end of the phone.
Appointments for COPD are time consuming
Go out to the garage again and get in the car.
Drive a couple of miles to the next town and pull into the Medical Building’s parking lot. Take the elevator upstairs and enter the doctor’s office.
I’m lucky because it’s a very pleasant staff. There’s a bit of a back log. Most of the patients are elderly – like me – and sometimes need to take extra time for an examination.
The Physician’s Assistant who I see (I’ll call her Debbie – not her real name) is always upbeat and full of new information about COPD intervention strategies and medications.
“COPD patients are at greater risk of fractures and osteoporosis than those with other diseases, a British study found,” Debbie tells me.
Useful tips from the doctor's appointment
And she always full of useful tips like:
“Use a shower chair. It can prevent you from exacerbating your condition.”
“Put a portable fan in the bathroom while you’re showering to reduce humidity and ventilate the room.”
“Get an air purifier. It can remove allergens and other pollutants and irritants from the air.”
“Have your AC inspected to eliminate mold and mildew.”
Pulmonary rehabilitation and seeing results
It’s a good checkup. Debbie’s pleased with my “numbers” (oximeter, blood pressure…). We both agree it’s probably due to the pulmonary rehabilitation sessions I’m attending.
Book an appointment for 90 days later, say “goodbye” and then head downstairs to the garage. It’s 11:30 and the rehab facility is about 30 minutes away. It makes no sense to arrive early because there’s a 12:00 class ahead of mine and I’ll need to sit in the waiting room with months-old magazines and old brochures.
I go to a nearby coffee house, sip my coffee and read the day’s newspaper (Yes...they still exist). Back in the car and 30 minutes later I arrive at the rehab facility.
I’m greeted by the staff (therapists and nurses) and given my workout:
Treadmill – 20 minutes – 1.7 speed, grade -3.
Stationary bicycle – 15 minutes at Level 2 speed.
Arm exerciser – 5 minutes – level 5.
Weights 10lbs – 15 repetitions.
I finish up, an hour later and walk back to the car.
I’m heading home but have to stop at the pharmacy to pick up a medication Debbie prescribed for me. Luckily it has a drive-up window, so I don’t have to walk all the way to the back of a rather large store.
Why the pharmacy is located in the back, making it difficult for those who are ill to walk, I’ll never know.
Heading home around 3:00.
It's been a long, full day with COPD
Drive into the driveway and get out. My oxygen order has arrived, and I need to store it in the garage.
I’m a little breathless because, grouped together in a carrier, the tanks are pretty heavy.
Walk into the house and head towards the bedroom and oxygen concentrator. Turn portable off, turn concentrator on and return to the kitchen.
I’m beginning to think that a friend from my support group was right when she said,
"Living with COPD is a full-time job. Isn’t it?"
Which of the following best describes your COPD diagnosis?