Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Living Well with COPD

COPD: Taking the Good Days with the Bad

By Jane M. Martin, BA, LRT, CRT, Health Pro Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A note from Jane:


I’ll be taking some time off in July, but in place of my usual shareposts I’d like to pass on some wisdom from the writings of a dear friend, a lady with COPD, Jo-Von Tucker. At age 52, Jo-Von was told that she had COPD, she’d have to wear oxygen 24-hours a day for the rest of her life, and she had less than five years to live. But she didn’t give up – or give in. This was just the start of a new chapter in her life as she went on for many years to help herself and others by establishing a breathing support group, advocating for better oxygen availability, and writing a book and monthly newsletters for COPD patients and their families. Jo-Von passed away unexpectedly in late 2003 from complications following surgery. Following her death, I was given her writings with the encouragement, and the blessing, to share them with people with COPD. Her words ring true today, just as they did the day they were written.

Here’s a quote for you today from Rattlesnake, an 1870’s mountain man:
“There ain’t no cloud so thick that the sun ain’t shinin’ on the other side.”
Jane M. Martin

This issue's editorial addresses a subject that is a fit for anyone with lung disease... the fact that we all have good days, as well as bad days. For our caregivers, spouses and family members, this is a touchy subject that is difficult for them to understand. One day we feel pretty darn good, able to press the boundaries of our restrictions and happily greet the day with cheerfulness and anticipation.

The next day we find ourselves struggling to breathe with the slightest exertion, fighting against the heaviness of the weight on our chest. It's one of the "bad ones," for no reason that is overtly obvious. It just is! Worsened shortness of breath is usually the first sign of a bad day. In my own case this is always accompanied by debilitating fatigue, an overwhelming tiredness that makes every little activity a major unattainable chore. No wonder it's hard for those around us to understand!

What in the world causes those bad days? Why do we feel relatively well one day and the next, suddenly take a turn for the worse? Is the barometric pressure changing? Is it the pollen in the air? Is an infection brewing in my lungs? Did I over exert myself yesterday? Have I been around someone with a cold or flu virus? Has my diet changed? Am I emotionally upset about something? Is the humidity too high? The list of possible causes goes on and on.

Our choices of ways to deal with those bad days are narrowed considerably by our physical limitations when we become more short of breath than usual. But deal with them, we must. These are the times when we need to call forth all the coping skills that we have learned and adapted for our own use. Although there are no magic, quick cures for making us feel better, there are ways to get us through the bad times.

One of the most important things to do for ourselves, whether we are fighting an infection or just dealing with a bad day, is to allow extra time for rest. We should always make sure we get enough sleep. A restless night can cause us to feel badly the next day, so a little catch-up time is probably in order. Peaceful sleep lets us build up our reserves after a bout of illness. And if you are one of those individuals who simply cannot sleep in the daytime, just be sure to get additional rest, limit your physical exertion, and deliberately plan activities that you can do while seated, or laying down.

By Jane M. Martin, BA, LRT, CRT, Health Pro— Last Modified: 03/06/13, First Published: 07/15/08