A person with their pain points highlighted and with question marks made out of bones on either side of them

What a Pain

My body can actually confuse me on some days. I want to ask: “Is it COPD or something else that I’m struggling with?” Where does this pain come from? Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

Other health issues

Besides having COPD, I have a variety of other health issues. And what a pain some of them are. We often hear about osteoporosis with COPD, as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Some of us cope with other types of pain that seem to affect and be affected by our COPD. There is no written proof, however. This is what I experience, and as others have mentioned, it affects them too. Osteoarthritis is one because it affects my bad back and joints. Then comes my evil one, called fibromyalgia. This pain can affect different areas of my body, as well as affecting my breathing.

Pain affecting other processes

There is a fibro fog as well as a COPD fog. Sometimes I don’t know which is which. I’ve learned that pursed-lip breathing can help with the pain, as well as my shortness of breath. My daughter is going to help me learn yoga too, via YouTube. I’m the one that often believes in that little sing-song, “The neck bone’s connected to the collar bone, the knee bone's connected to the leg bone”, etc. I believe that some of these things affect other things that are part of our bodies. It’s been proven that pain can affect blood pressure, also called hypertension. It affects breathing, for me anyway. I think I breathe shallower on those days and maybe even hold my breath during the bad pain moments. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I catch myself rocking. I do take pain medication when needed, and thankfully do get some injections, the last was to my sacroiliac. Also used are heating pads and ice packs.

The importance of exercise

My physical therapist has given me exercises to do for my joints, back, and breathing, as well as for my cardiovascular health. The cardio exercises will help to strengthen the lungs, heart, and respiratory muscles. They will also help to strengthen the muscles in my legs and other areas.

A few months back I had a total knee replacement. I’m supposed to have more surgeries. However, after my knee replacement, I had trouble bringing my oxygen levels up and ended up staying in the hospital for a second night. Whether I will be able to have surgery for my back, knee, etc., will have to wait and see. The requirements of my pulmonologist are that I use c-pap with my oxygen whenever needed. I do have sleep apnea as well.

At times I feel bad for my doctors because they too don't always know how to sort out what is what with my body.

Questions I ask myself:

  • Is the rib pain because of COPD or fibromyalgia?
  • Is the headache because of COPD or something else?
  • Do I have difficulty walking because of COPD or arthritis?
  • Is my shortness of breath because of COPD or possibly increased because of my pain?
  • Is there really no pain in the lungs as one doctor claimed? Would this be then, referred pain?
  • When can I sit in a chair for any length of time?
  • When I use my pro-air inhaler or albuterol nebulizer, I force my body to relax which helps to let the medication in. Is that normal?

I'm off to the treadmill. Because of exercise-induced asthma, my pro air inhaler is the first thing I will do. Crazy, isn't it? Another thing that my body lives with - asthma. Using the inhaler first allows me to work a little bit harder on the treadmill. Aren't our bodies remarkable things?!

Is there a chronic or invisible illness that affects you and your COPD?

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