The Challenge of the Garbage Bags: They Take My Breath Away

Last updated: June 2023

My husband went shopping. Not one time or two, but three times.

A generic brand of garbage bags, that the package said unscented. I got a sore throat and a tight chest when we opened the package.

A day later, a new brand said unscented. We saw the box had Clorox as an ingredient. My lungs felt like they tightened up where I could hardly talk.

A brand that we usually use doesn’t specify, yet my burning nose says scented all the way. My lungs tightened up and I started wheezing

Let it be known, that I hadn’t opened up a single package. My poor husband, who wasn’t feeling well himself, finally said that I would have to go shopping myself.

The frustration felt with the unknown

It has to be so frustrating for him, I know it is for me. Sometimes I don't know what's safe for me, I can't imagine him having to figure it out. Besides, I know that he didn’t mean I should go shopping.

He feels like everything he does causes a reaction in me. He told me to neb. I so needed that neb and yes, I’m frustrated.

Frustration to me isn’t angry. To me, it’s a feeling of loss, of bewilderment. I picture myself throwing my hands up in the air in resignation.

I always think that I need to explain that. Sometime back, my doctor read something on my chart where I said I was frustrated. He wanted to know why I was angry.

I tried to explain that anger was the farthest emotion that I was feeling.

According to an online dictionary, the definition of frustration is the feeling of irritability or anger because of the inability to achieve something. I will have to find a new word. Any suggestions?

Not a lot of selection means limited choices

Back to my story. Living in a small town of 2,300 people, there aren't a lot of shopping selections.

There are two grocery stores and they keep changing brands, even with the generics. Without more choices, it takes the selection away.

Too often there is little selection if any. I miss getting excited because a package is delivered to the door. I felt so bad the day that I couldn’t take flowers for my birthday, that a friend delivered; bouquets that florists delivered when my mother-in-law passed away; or even flowers that I received when I had surgery.

Buying products online puts my mind at ease

It’s time to make a new shopping list. I feel bad for what I put my husband through. Once an order has been placed, I start a new shopping list.

I will do an order to be picked up and another online. No, I don't have a pity party going on.

This is the best way to support others that go through similar things, by sharing. This is also a way to hopefully bring awareness to how simplistic daily things can affect a person with COPD.

These things can take my air away, my voice as well. Some can trigger allergies and cause a rash.

My COPD Medication Regimen:

  • Pro-air inhaler is my rescue inhaler. This is used as needed for my COPD and asthma, allergies.
  • Daily, I do two nebulizer treatments for COPD. Budesonide is used, twice a day. Duo-Neb is Ipratropium Bromide and Albuterol Sulfate, which is used three times a day.
  •  Singulair is taken as night.
  •  Nucala, is injected once a month for severe asthma.
  •  Allergy pills, are taken morning and night. Always there is an Epi-Pen or two ready to use, and accessible.
  • Lasix is used for edema.
  • And more medications for other health issues.

Friday, COPD and allergies nailed me. For most of the weekend, I slept. That’s how my body seems to handle the most difficult reactions.

I crash and develop an overwhelming need to sleep. Often my oxygen drops as well.

This is when I know that I need to use my oxygen and C-Pap, possibly around the clock. Normally, I only use them when I sleep at night.

Everyday things can take my breath away

Wood smoke coming from a neighbor's chimney or even a fire pit someone has burning can be the culprit.

I seldom open a package because I have no idea what’s in there. It may be the packaging or the product. Some products seem to suck the life out of me.

Or shall I say, suck the breath out of me? Does this happen to you too?

When family or friends come over, my husband meets them at the door. If they are wearing scented products he turns them back out.

They will visit outdoors or in the garage. Maybe even a fast-food restaurant located a short distance away.

Sometimes the weather is nice enough for me to be out, other times, there is no question that I can’t be outside. These times can break my heart when they come wearing something that they know I can't tolerate. Once the scent is in the house, it often stays for a few days.

What is causing me to have a reaction?

Maybe a combination of these. Just because something says unscented, doesn't mean that a person won't have a reaction.

Items can be made with different products, chemicals, and more. Even though a product, scent, or other looks innocent, it can affect a person.

It might affect one person and not the other. That happens too. Even though both have COPD.

My concern is that some things just take my breath away.

You may wonder how this can be a way of life? When shopping, the store contains many things that can affect our lungs, throat, and more.

These could be:

  • People smoking outside a door or window.
  • People who have cigarette smoke or other smoke on their coats, clothes, and even hair.
  • Perfumes sprayed and tested in stores.
  • Aisles of laundry soaps and other cleaning products with their strong fragrances. They don't have to be open.
  • Strong scented air fresheners and cleaning products are frequently used in restrooms.
  • Packages always come in the house whether we shop or someone delivers to us.

So you see, this is a way of life for us, those with COPD. The risk is real. What we have given up is real.

Yet, I can wear the biggest smile!

Soon, I am hoping that I will be able to hold my new great-granddaughter. It's wonderful to get calls and messages from our families.

We know that we will find a way to get together soon.

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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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