Me and COPD
Last updated: September 2023
I don't mean to make this a woe is me thing and hope it does not come across that way. As to why am I writing this, I don't know just some things I want to put down.
I have been lucky
I was diagnosed with COPD sometime in 1984 and I'm still around, so yeah, that makes me an old fart. I've been very lucky with this disease, if you can have it and be lucky, I would say I have been because I've not had a lot of the symptoms that others have. In the whole time I have had it, I have only been in the hospital 4 times because of it. I don't have and never have the coughing fits like so many do. My symptoms are shortness of breath, but in the last year I have also had rib cramps and frequent morning headaches, (not necessarily anything to do with COPD but a lot of us with COPD have it) and AFIB, so I have to take two small pills every day to control my heart. I have also noticed and been reminded of it frequently, as of the last 8 months or so, I am having a problem with short term memory. Apparently that is not unusual for us with stage 4 COPD. That's OK by Easter, I might be able to hide my own Easter eggs.
Starting supplemental oxygen
Six years ago, I had to go on oxygen and I was put on it at 2 lpm, 24/7. Of course, since then I have graduated to 8 lpm, which sucks by the way, well technically it blows. I just know I get very tired doing anything anymore. I use to make our king size bed in about 10 minutes, now I have to rest so much it takes me 30 minutes. I feel useless enough already but my other half (wife) says "just let me know and I will help you make it". She makes me whole so she is defiantly my other half. When I am resting my oximeter reads a high of 96, if I move around a few minutes or try to do anything it rapidly drops to 88 and less, so I shortly need to rest again. There is not a lot I can do anymore. unless it is sitting down. I do still maintain a website for a club I belong to, but anything physical is hard to do anymore. Of course being on an 57 foot leash doesn't help either, although it is just the right length to let me get anywhere in my house, I can even get outside a little ways. We got a walker for my wife several years ago, because of her back, she doesn't seem to need it much anymore so I am using it now. The last 6 months or so I have felt weak and unsteady, so it was more of a safety thing at first, but now if I walk very far without it I feel shaky, so now I use it all the time. Life goes on sort of.
My fears and my faith
I can remember when I was much younger, thinking to myself I never want to be kept alive by machines. At that time I was thinking of people in the hospital and hooked up to all kinds of things, but here I am now relying on a machine to help keep me alive. Alive such as it is, I have no problem or fears of being dead, it's the dying that scares me. Having had power outages and damaged oxygen hoses I know what being without it is like and would hate to die that way. My faith makes me believe I will end up with Jesus, so being dead does not scare me at all, just the process of getting that way. I don't as a rule feel sorry for myself, I do every once in awhile get depressed, I'm strong in my faith which helps me shake it off. I also believe in the rapture and expect it to be in my life time. So I say Maranatha, (which is an Aramaic word which they believe means “the Lord is coming” or “come, O Lord.”)
I don't know about anyone else but humidity makes it hard for me to breath. Because of that taking a bath is a challenge. We have a walk-in tub which helps some but it's still a hassle for me, a shower is even worse, a closed in shower with all that water, can't do it. Another problem I have with this oxygen cannula, I get very tired of it over my cheek bones. Because of that I frequently ware it under, then over my ear, I can keep it in my nose pretty well during the day but to sleep it has to go the normal way (over the ear).
Think about something, when you get short of breath what do you do, if you are like most people, you open your mouth to try to get more air. If you are on oxygen, it's the total wrong thing to do, but try breaking that habit. I have been on oxygen for long enough now that I should know better, but I still catch myself gulping air through my mouth, sometimes. Then I remember hey dummy, through the nose and exhale with pursed lips. My lungs are distended, a lot of people will have a barrel chest because of COPD, mine got longer instead. My diaphragm, instead of being flat has gotten curved or cupped as my doctor said. So my lungs are pushing everything down, I now have an outie instead of an innie (belly button), and I now have a belly on me, which I've never had before. Believe me it ain't fat, with the way I eat and I have lost weight. I don't think there is any fat on my body, except between my ears maybe. Because of that fact, every time I sit or stand or lie down my breathing has to adjust for the position my lungs are now in. Anything to help keep things interesting.
Getting tired out
The last couple of weeks I am feeling tired most of the time. More tired than previously, I'm not bad just sitting, but almost any activity really tires me out, much quicker than not that long ago. More if and when. Maranatha
Where do you stand with your COPD?