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a woman holds her throat as she gasps for air, having an exacerbation

Am I Having an Exacerbation or Has My Lung Function Declined?

Oh my, this last month has been very stressful. My oxygen has been dropping and my heart rate has been skyrocketing. When I get up to do anything, my oxygen drops into the low 80’s, which is unusual for me.

The only time it usually drops that low is if I have been walking around without my oxygen to the bathroom, etc. or if I am doing a more strenuous workout than usual.

I have been so fortunate over these last eleven years not to lose lung function but to feel like this has been devastating. I have to remind myself that I have had way more years on these bad lungs than I thought I would.

When I started writing these articles in February, I was in such a good place. I was sharing my journey with everyone and staying so positive about everything and being able to share my articles with you all. I have been eating healthy and exercising to better my health, and now I can barely walk to the bathroom without my oxygen dropping.

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Worries over COPD progression

Now, being so short of breath again and finding out that my CT Scan is worse than it was in January has been very discouraging. I’m hoping this is just an exacerbation but trying to prepare myself if there is no coming back from this.

I know I will get over this "poor me" moment, as I always do, and it will just take some time. I feel like I'm back feeling how I felt when I was first diagnosed.

I feel like I’m learning everything new again - asking questions and trying to keep my spirits up while not bringing my family down. I don't want them to worry about me, and I think them worrying about me is what bothers me most.

Oxygen numbers are improving

I have been to my pulmonologist, who did a six-minute walk test. You won't believe it. It was the best six-minute walk I have ever done. My oxygen stayed at 96 the whole time.

I have never done that before. The nurse was looking at me like 'Yeah right, your oxygen is dropping!' I guess I was just having a good moment because at home later that day my oxygen was dropping to 85 while walking to the bathroom with oxygen.

I have checked my machine, hoses, etc. for any problems. I have 3 different pulse oximeters and they were all reading the same.

More tests and scans

He also sent me to get a CT scan and an echocardiogram. The echocardiogram came back OK, and the CT was worse than my previous one in January (as far as the emphysema in the right lung). But everything else was the same.

No new nodules and the ones I already had haven't grown any more significant. I have yet to have a PFT done this year. Because of covid, I haven't had one since November of 2019. 

I’m still waiting on that to see if my numbers have also declined. I’m anxious to see what that will say.

Does anyone else feel this way when you start to decline? I know I am not alone in this and I would love to hear your thoughts.

I think just writing this and getting it off my chest has helped. I feel much better than I did yesterday when I came to edit this article.

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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