Change of Seasons With COPD
My lungs don’t really care for fluctuating temperatures when the seasons change. Some of my worst exacerbations have been going from the warm air of summer to the cooler air of autumn. Even though it hasn’t happened now for a few years I still become very cautious and anxious, waiting for the telltale signs of a possible flare-up.
Even though I have COPD, over the last few years my health has improved. I am stronger because of diet changes and daily exercise. I am able to be off oxygen when resting and I have only been hospitalized once in seven years.
Continuing with diet and exercise is my strongest armor against an exacerbation. Keeping my anxiety under control is another. This can be more challenging than anything, yet just as important as my medicines and exercise. I discovered a video titled "Mindful Breathing: Pursed-Lip Breathing" from The American Lung Association that really helps me daily. Once I became familiar with it, I could put it into practice at any time without the video itself.
Another thing I find that is very helpful is being prepared. Cold weather and winter storms can keep me housebound for a few weeks. I keep a close watch on my medicines, making sure they are all filled. I refill them as early as I’m allowed to, creating a surplus of a few days each month. Eventually, it adds up and I know I have a sufficient amount should an emergency arise.
I am on oxygen, so this is one of my biggest concerns. I have had frequent power outages during winter weather. I have a home concentrator, four travel tanks I fill myself from the concentrator, and a large cylinder that lasts about nine hours on 2 lpm. Without a generator, this is sufficient to last approximately two days, if I do not exert myself much. We have a gas run generator, which can run the concentrator and the furnace to stay warm.
Food and hobbies and Zooming, Oh My!
I always keep emergency food in my pantry. Obviously, this changes according to your own individual tastes. I keep extra cans of soup, tuna, salmon, pasta, rice, dried beans, and vegetables. If I cannot get out or get a food delivery because of storms, a meal can always be made with the above staples. I also keep some shelf-stable milk, coffee, tea, sugar, oatmeal, and protein bars. Keeping extra water is a must.
Keeping the mind and hands busy is important during the long winter months. Zoom has become very popular. I have found many more events available virtually now. This allows me to not only remain busy but remain social as well. Zoom has made my quality of life so much better and I no longer feel isolated as before. I have talked to people all over the world with COPD. I am also finding many hobby interest groups are turning to it for classes.
Let's talk about it
Being prepared for the change of seasons takes a little bit of extra work, but it provides peace of mind as well. Do you keep emergency supplies for bad weather? What do you do to prepare for the change of seasons? I would love to read your ideas.
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
Do you have an emergency plan to deal with your COPD during a major storm?