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COPD Is an Energy Sucker!

COPD is an energy sucker.

Pacing is even more important

It takes us twice as much energy to breathe as it does a person with normal lungs. So, managing every bit of energy is vital to living a good life with COPD. Having COPD makes sleeping tough and most of us get a few hours here and there, but we no longer get a full 8 hours without waking or having a hard time getting back to slumber. This drains our energy resources and makes pacing our movements more important.

After your diagnosis

After your diagnosis, one of the first things you are told is to learn to pace yourself while completing tasks and thereby preserving your energy. Being born in the multi-tasking era, somehow pacing eluded me. My first thought when I had a task was to speed up and push through to get it done fast. My thinking was that if I hurried, I would take half the time and get a full task done and I could do twice as much.  Unfortunately, it does not work that way and most of us have a hard time learning to pace ourselves.

Too many tasks

My first weekend after respiratory rehab, I was released for the weekend to go home. I was asked to keep a journal of what I did during the weekend so we could discuss it with the therapist upon my return on Monday. I told her that I was surprised at the amount of shortness of breath I felt completing my exercise and tasks around the house.

She looked over my journal and remarked that it was no wonder I had shortness of breath! I had accomplished lots of tasks, in fact too many for her liking and she asked me about pacing myself. She asked if I rested during the day at all. I had forgotten that part because having been in the hospital for two months I felt great. I wanted to conquer the world, but I would have to learn to do it one step at a time while pacing and pursing my lips.

Resting and recouping is a major point

Watching others and how they manage their COPD leaves me wondering. When you are short of breath, do you speed up or slow down? Do you gasp for air or do you stop, lean on a counter or chair back, and use pursed-lip breathing? Do you get into the rescue mode, bending over with hands on your knees?

The effects of hypoxia (low oxygen) on major internal organs are rarely talked about. When we are trying to rush through and get a task done, remember the results of the task may be great, but your body is paying the price of not pacing. Your continual shortness of breath can cause memory loss, heart palpitations, nausea, headaches, or something more serious like lung or heart failure.

Resting and recouping after exercise is a major point that many of us forget about. We are all aging and none of us are getting any younger. With aging comes a decline in overall health that requires we pay more attention to ourselves. Work will get done but the benefits of sitting on your porch and reading a good book never get old!

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