Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

My Letter To Those Who Are Sick

No I’m not being silly. Many would say having COPD means that they are sick. Others think of COPD as having a peg leg, or like dragging an anvil around. Those people likely don’t think of themselves as sick unless they can’t get out of bed in their usual way one day. Maybe they have been put on Prednisone or another steroid, those people are sick, that’s the elephant on the chest syndrome. I know that sometimes just being so tired of being tired qualifies for being sick too. A day or two later, maybe even a week or so, we’re back to a more normal place for us. We each have our own normal and that is often determined by what stage of COPD we’re in.

Having COPD is definitely another way of life. One that we didn’t choose, nor would ever choose.

When a person has COPD, he/she will likely have a pulmonary function test, which is a spirometry every 6 months to a year depending on the stage that you are in. Periodically you will have a chest x-ray as well. This is done to keep an eye on the progression of your disease and to make sure that you don’t have pneumonia or anything else going on with your lungs, besides COPD.

Mucus can tell a lot too. Yes, mucus, also known as sputum is something that we want to get rid of. We can cough and really hack to try to get it out. When you are coughing up mucus, how much of a quantity is it? Would you say a teaspoon or tablespoon? Is that all at once or throughout the day? Mucus has color. Would you say that it’s clear, white, yellow, green or reddish brown? If you are on an antibiotic that doesn’t seem to be working, or if you repeatedly get sick, your doctor might ask you to give a sputum culture. This is as easy as spitting into a sterile cup. The lab will take this and let it set for a couple of days, as they might want to grow the bacteria to see what kind it is and how best to treat you.

Your doctor might ask to do a blood panel complete blood count (CBC) is a test that measures the cells that make up your blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. You might get a CBC as part of your yearly check-up. Your doctor may also request an arterial blood gas to measure the acidity (pH) as well as the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. This test checks how well your lungs can move oxygen to the blood and can remove carbon dioxide from the blood.

During your sick time, remember to rest.

Also to pace yourself, because it’s important to move around, I walk through my house every hour or so, sick or not. As always, journal if you can, that will help the doctor know everything that you are experiencing.

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.