I have journeyed many years with COPD. Next year will be an incredible 30 years since being first diagnosed by my then doctor. The year 1987 was much different to now. We had no computers, or internet with which to communicate. It would take an age to gather information. That then would have meant having to read and cross reference many pages of an encyclopedia. Such a long and tedious task I would give up quickly.
Our only information on COPD was what our doctor, or if we were lucky to have a nurse, told us.
That was little in them days. The information highway was yet to be born. I did not know then that COPD was progressive. It could be said in that in 1987 my ignorance was complete.
Fast forward to 2016 and I have the fastest encyclopedia ever – the information highway has arrived. The Internet with all its resources, and Google is an amazing tool. Within an amazingly short period of time I can learn all the latest research and medical advances on COPD, and share that knowledge with others. I can now talk with many fellow sufferers living thousands of miles from me in real time, and pass on my learned knowledge of COPD with ease. Using an iPhone I can ask Siri a question, and be given an answer in moments. I have dictated an email using Siri. What an amazing world we now live in.
I have learned much during the last three decades, during my journey with COPD.
Of which hopefully there will be a decade or more left with which to enjoy my journey called life. I have learned we can in many ways make our own life, be the creators of our own destiny. If we are positive and look on the bright side, enjoy time with family and friends, and look after ourselves, we can live a reasonable life despite COPD, and have very many years with which to enjoy. Be assured it is possible to stabilize your COPD, even at the most severe of stages, and improve your FEV1.
Expected forced expiratory volume is the volume of air you are expected to expel from your lungs in a given time. The volume reduces the older you get as with age the lungs get less elastic. My latest lung function test show I have the lungs of an 85-year old man. Sounds bad huh. Not when I say that 8 years ago my FEV1 was 25%, but is now 30%.
My lungs have not improved. Lungs do not get better. My gas exchange is a little worse than it was as I use more oxygen than before. But my all important FEV1 is improved. The reason is not I have more air. But that I have stabilized. Five years ago I had the lungs of an 85 year old man. Today the same. While it is fact lungs do not heal they can be maintained. When you next have a lung function test ask what your lung age is. I always go one better and ask for a print out of the results. Knowing your lung age could help you to pace yourself better. It has me.
I imagine I am an 85-year old man. Even though only 68 in reality.
How fast does an 85 year old man move? Yep, not very fast at all. What could the average 85 year old manage to do? Ok in my case to do what my imaginary 85-year old does I need to make sure my blood is oxygen saturated. So in my case no moving without oxygen. Then I move as though I am an 85, or at least as I imagine an 85 year old would. I can imagine some of you guys reading this thinking ‘how frustrating’. In truth I have found my exercise into being an 85-year old liberating. I found when I paced properly my life felt so much better. The slow lane had so many rewards with the biggest plus being less breathlessness. Have you ever got more out of breath trying to move faster than you should? Even though you never managed an increase in speed? I have.
There are times when the slower you move, the faster jobs get done.
One reminder before I end this ramble: being 85, at least in lung years, is no excuse not to get out of that sofa. It does not matter how slow you move or what you do. How slow those feet shuffle. Moving is one of the keys to stabilizing. A walk to the sink if there is dishes to wash. A slow shuffle to the window to look out and enjoy the day. Or if you have one, onto the porch to enjoy the fresh air. To listen to the birds in song. Enjoy the rain on your face, the breeze, being alive. Life.
Till I write again Breathe Easy. Stay positive. And beat them demons. If you have not joined me yet on my facebook ‘We strive to breathe easier’ COPD helpsite I would love to have you join us. COPD.net also has a Facebook page, which you can find here. Remember: you are not in this alone.