Two snakes intertwined to form a lungs

My COPD Animal

If I had to describe COPD as an animal, my animal happens to be a reptile, a snake, or shall I say snakes.

The town that I live in is right on the Missouri River. There are many snakes around. I like them. My husband and I have hunted rattlesnakes. We’ve been called to remove rattlers, bull snakes, garter snakes, and more. I’ve handled a variety of snakes at a pet store, but hubby said no I can’t even have a corn snake. Lol.

Why I choose a snake as my COPD animal

The snake, my COPD animal, slithered into my life. My COPD wasn’t expected, yet It slowly made my symptoms known. Like a snake, my COPD hid from me and the doctors for some time before my diagnosis.

I can't breathe

My COPD snake opens its mouth over the top of my head, it swallows my head. It hurts. I can’t breathe, can’t get any air. I feel my lungs struggling to expand. I try to expel my air before I blow up, it’s so hard to do. This severe chest tightness is like a python wrapping itself around my chest and squeezing. It’s usually my COPD. The doctors usually check my heart too. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension.

Heavy and swollen feet

It's easy to imagine and feel baby rattlers slithering across my feet. There were a lot of them. Some bite. They make my feet, ankles and legs so heavy and swollen. I continue to feel the stings, like bites as I elevate my legs.

Coughing and wheezing like the hiss of a snake

There is a hiss and rattle, mama rattler is right in front of me. Those sounds are just like a rattle and wheeze during an exacerbation. This chest hurts, I keep coughing to get the mucus up. It makes my chest and throat hurt more. I grab a pillow and put it across my chest area so that it protects my ribs and abdomen from pain or injury.

Knowing that I can get past this exacerbation

There have been similar sounds of a hiss and a rattle, but looking at that snake, there isn’t a rattle on its tail, it just sounds like one. It tries to scare, but this is only a bull snake. It can bite yet has no venom. This is when I feel some relief and know that I am past the exacerbation.

I have my defenses against COPD

The garter snakes slither as they attempt to get away when I get close. When I pick it up and hold one, it actually urinates on my hand or arm. That’s the defense against me picking it up and holding it. I put it down carefully as they don’t do harm and actually help us by eating mice, spiders and more. That’s like me, using my defenses knowing that I’m healthier, am able to take medications and eat a small meal. I feel better and am able to sleep. The pests are gone, I feel healthier. For now, anyway.

Back to being me and taking care of myself

Today, I walk carefully. I try to avoid those snake dens. It’s important to take good care of myself. This is done by exercise, nutritious diet, approved medications, regular doctor appointments, support system, and oxygen when needed.

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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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