My Day at Home

My Day at Home

What my day is going to be like depends on whether it's a normal day, a good day or a bad day. I can tell within 10 minutes of my getting out of bed what type of day it's going to be. By a "good day" I don't mean I will not become short of breath or have to take frequent rests. But on a good day even with the shortness of breath I know I can get several things done that is very hard to do on a normal day and on a bad day I would never attempt. Things like making the bed, taking a bath, and vacuuming are a few things I have to be in my best condition to do. I know a lot of you have a problem doing anything because you become SOB which causes you fear and anxiety. I have been dealing with stage 4 COPD and the shortness of breath that comes with it for 17 years. At this stage it is my normal and I have learned to adjust the way I do things to accommodate my COPD and shortness of breath. This morning I woke up feeling completely rested - my heart was calm, and after my trip to the bathroom when I got back on my bed to take my morning medications I was barely SOB, and I know today is going to be a good day.

I started stripping my bed while taking my morning nebulizer treatment. First I fold up my throw cover, take off my pillowcase, put them on the foot of the bed till I take the covers off the top of the bed. The fact that I sleep in the hospital bed makes taking the sheets off fairly easy and I can do most of it sitting down. As you'll see in the pictures I sleep with the head of my bed in the upright position so it's easy to just reach up and take the fitted sheet off the top of the bed. I then raise the foot to the same position and removed the fitted sheet and top sheet at the same time. I lower the foot and reached behind me and pulled the sheets off the backside, then loosing the sheets from the front of the bed except for the spot I'm sitting in. When I finish my nebulizer treatment I stand up roll the sheets into a pile and they're ready to carry to the wash. The hard part of doing my bed is when I have to make it. I'm going to hope my grandson stops by so he can make it for me.

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Now that I have the bed stripped and the sheets ready for the wash, time to tackle taking a bath. Unlike most with COPD I don't take showers, I take a long hot bath. It relaxes me to lean back close my eyes and let the warmth of the water soak into my bones. Getting in and out of the tub is where the problem comes in - it makes me extremely SOB, my breathing stats drop and my heart goes into overdrive. Since I don't want my panic disorder kicking in at such a time, before I start running the tub I take a Xanax. Once I start the water running in the tub, I sit on the toilet seat and relax giving the Xanax time to work. Since I live alone I always leave the bathroom door open, that allows any steam to escape so I don't have to deal with high humidity when taking a bath. Things I always have within reach when taking a bath are my phone, rescue inhaler, and oximeter. I use a terry cloth robe to dry off instead of towels. I learned a long time ago anything that involves the use of the upper part of my body even the motions of drying myself causes me to become very SOB and my heart starts to rise. The effort it takes me to stand up and get out of the tub leave me with just enough energy to put on my terry cloth robe and sit down on the toilet and do purse lip breathing for the next 20 minutes till I get my stats back to where they were before I got in the bath. After my stats get back to normal I put on sweats, get my laundry bag from bedroom, head to the kitchen to start my wash and fix myself something to eat.

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After starting the wash, fixing my brunch, I head to the living room to watch Judge Judy while I eat and relax before I tend to vacuuming. During the commercial on Judge Judy I took the clothes out of the washer and put them in the dryer and started my last load of wash. I vacuum sitting down, I moved from seat to seat in my living room vacuum the area I can reach from where I'm sitting then move on to another seat and vacuum that area, I even sit on the coffee table. Although I'm sitting when I vacuum I still tend to become very short of breath from moving my arms back and forth while vacuuming. By the time I'm finished vacuuming, folding and putting away my wash, it's 3:30 pm. My meds have begun to wind down and I become SOB a lot quicker. From that point on it becomes a normal day where every little thing I do makes me very SOB. So no more hard physical work for today just a lot of rest, TV, and computer time.

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On most days I wash up, (don't take a bath), I make my bed everyday, but, I don't change the sheets, do my wash or vacuum. I only do what I have to, like fix my meals, do a few dishes and a little light dusting. It's not too often I have a day like today, so most of the things I did today, I paid my grandson do for me. I try to take a bath once a week, but it takes so much out of me, it turns a normal day into a bad day. A bad day keeps on my non-intrusive ventilation machine, (Bi-PAP), most of the day. Due to my CHF I have to take extra nitroglycerin, and pray I don't go into cardiac arrest. I thank God that doesn't happen too often.

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It's 7:30 pm, I've gone into my bedroom to take my nightly nebulizer medication and there's my unmade bed. My grandson didn't come over and I forgot all about it. I shake my head and mentally call myself every name in the book. So I take my meds, fix/eat dinner, and watch a little TV. I know it will take at least 1 or 2 hours for my meds to kick in enough for me to tackle my bed. It takes me a good hour, a lot of getting SOB, heart palpitations, rest, purse lip breathing and praying but I got it done and put on my Bi-PAP. It was almost 12, I was tired but not sleepy so I check out Facebook for a while. About 1:30 am I got into bed, turn on the TV close my eyes and listened till I feel I can go to sleep, then I reach over click the remote shutting off the TV as I drift off to dreamland where, (for a few hours), my life is better than reality. Goodnight!

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Breathe deep and easy.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on March 2, 2018, Mary Ultes passed away. Mary was an engaged advocate for the COPD community who strived to help people live fulfilling lives. She is deeply missed.

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

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