There Is Always a Solution, Part 1
Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part series. Part 2 can be found here.
It is important to anyone with a chronic illness to have some sort of semblance of normalcy in life, routines and capabilities. Having stage 4 COPD, I am on oxygen and many household chores leave me short of breath. Walking around my home attached to a fifty-foot oxygen hose also provides challenges. The tubing gets caught on furniture. This leaves me more breathless when I stop to free it. Carrying items from one room to another becomes another test in patience. It never fails, I always drop something, my tubing gets caught or my phone rings. I am a believer in, "If there's a will, there's a way."
The dreaded oxygen tubing
The tubing solution belongs to my husband's creativity. Instead of one 50' hose that was always kinked up in a ball, I now use 7' hoses put together with swivel connectors. This stops the tangling. I can add or delete as many as I want. I now have the extra freedom and length to go out on my porch or yard. Foam pool noodles or foam pipe insulation is tucked under couches and chairs to block the tubing from getting caught. Any cabinet doors or drawers in the kitchen that had knobs have been replaced with a hardware design that cannot catch the hose. When my dog walks off with my hose because it's caught on his tail, my solution for that is laughter!
Shopping in the tool department
The tool department at Home Depot provided the answer for carrying my phone and other items. A carpenter's waist apron became the perfect solution! It has a multitude of pockets of varying sizes and is made of sturdy canvas. I am able to carry my phone at all times, rescue inhaler, water bottle, and tissue, with pockets to spare. Another invaluable item is a mechanic's stool. It is on wheels and the height can be changed. It also has a tray under the seat near the wheels for storage. I use this stool quite often for housecleaning. I can roll around and keep cleaning products in the tray. On days when breathing isn't great but I still need to clean, I've used this stool to sweep and mop the floors.
Other tips and tricks
I like my bed made every day. It makes the bedroom look neater but it is a daunting chore, particularly with a king-size bed. My solution is less bedding. I stopped using top sheets and tucked in blankets. My bed is made with a fitted sheet and a quilt or comforter only. I keep the blankets folded in a basket. If it is a cooler night, I throw one on top of the bed.
I keep a chair in front of the dryer for folding laundry. Using a laundry cart on wheels makes it easier to bring the clean clothes back to the bedroom to put away. It took research for cleaning tools, but I eventually found long-handled scrub brushes, dusters, and mops to handle my cleaning needs. Collapsible baskets in every room are very handy. They don't take up a lot of space when collapsed but are useful for carrying larger items from room to room.
It has taken time, research through shopping websites, and trial and error to find what works for the jobs I need to do. It gives me a sense of pride to still take care of my own home. These solutions allow me to do that. Don't let COPD hold you back. There is always a solution!
As someone living with COPD, what solutions have you found in your daily life with the condition? Share them with us here!
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.
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