Sunday 6 March 2016

Living with COPD

This write up has been a long time coming because as the meeting was taking place in Neath, in February, I was in hospital in Reddich with yet another wretched exacerbation of my COPD. I am getting pretty sick of this happening this winter, I have never been ill like this before, even though I was diagnosed eleven years ago. Let's hope this is the last one and I can look forward to spring.

Our members used the meeting time to talk about the problems of living with COPD and the effect it has on their lives.
  1. we usually don't look ill and so people don't understand why we need to lean and rest, sit for a while, use a Blue Badge parking space etc.
  2. so many inhalers make life confusing ie what each one does, how to use it properly. It was decided that the pharmacist should always instruct how to use each inhaler. 
  3. having a wash/bath/shower/cleaning teeth/hair washing can be exhausting. 
  4. the speed of the onset of an exacerbation is frightening. There maybe a couple of days of feeling generally under the weather, and then WHAM ! it's like walking into a brick wall. Suddenly your chest is tighter and you can't breathe. We all need the security of rescue meds in the home.
  5. often just too exhausted to eat, think or make simple decisions
  6. arranging outings etc has to be carefully thought out as simple tasks take a long time.
  7. getting exhausted just going to the toilet - bowel movements being especially difficult.
  8. a carers concern was when to call in which service - ie respiratory team, the GP, dial 111 or 999
But after they had all gone through this depressing list, it was the usual tea and biscuits all round and general laughter. Life is not grim all the time with COPD once you have learnt rescue breathing techniques, pacing yourself and learning enough about your condition to recognise when things are going wrong and knowing when to call in the professionals.

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