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I was one of those kids who never walked when they could run. I took up downhill skiing and loved it. I jogged. I threw footballs with my Dad. I would walk for miles. I never stopped to think about breathing because it was just something that you did automatically. It was only when I was living in Colorado in 1995 that I first got an idea that something might be wrong.

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I was born early. As a child I had problems with bronchitis. When I was in second grade a strain of flu almost killed me. Still I was always athletic and my lungs were constantly being given a workout. I didn’t have too much problem when I went to college in Denver in the 70s. It was only when I was living there with my ex-husband in 1995 that I noticed that I was getting winded even on the short walk to the mailboxes. Still I ignored it because I was living with the world’s biggest hypochondriac and was spending more time taking care of him then myself.

When I moved back to California in 1998 I was having more and more problems breathing. A good Doctor at Kaiser checked things out and realized that I now had C.O.P.D. and severe asthma. One evening I started coughing and couldn’t stop. My ex let me cough for 15 minutes before he finally called 911. The ambulance people and the Emergency Room staff were furious. It was the first time that I realized that this could kill me. I got out of the marriage and tried to take care of myself but the damage had already been done.

 I never smoked but always had bad allergies. I know I am allergic to mold and house dust. I keep my apartment as clean as I can. I use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum.  I use Lysol to kill the mold and because I can tolerate the smell without choking up. I dust with wet wipes that gather the dust and not spread it into the air. I have a decorative fountain that I use distilled water in to add some moisture to the air so it is easier to breathe. I found a waterless “vaporizer” by Vicks that puts menthol and eucalyptus into the air that I use in the bedroom at night. It makes it easier to breathe.

I have given up on running and skiing but I do walk as often as I can. I love photography so I’ll grab my camera and walk and take photographs. I can go as slow as I want and take the time to get all the angles I want in photographing nature. I love digital cameras.

One thing I can’t do is give up my cat. I’m sure it would be better if I didn’t have litter dust and cat fur around but my mental health would suffer too much if I didn’t have her. Pixie helped as a caregiver for my late Mom. I promised Mom I would keep Pixie. Sometimes you just have to vacuum more and live with the cat fur in order to have something that makes your heart sing.

Stress is a trigger for C.O.P.D. and I try and keep the stress down but I am now a caregiver to a 100% disabled younger brother. It is stressful but I try and do what I can to keep as calm as possible. I listen to a lot of new age music. I work on my art. I make jewelry. I have set up a home business to sell my art and jewelry. It will be a big focus this year. I read a lot. I love mysteries and science fiction. I love to cook and will use ingredients that help open me up like peppers, turmeric, onions, garlic, etc. I am writing a cookbook. I find if I concentrate on other things I can get away from the stress. Hearing "I love you" and "thank you for you have done for me" from my brother helps too. Of course having Pixie around making me laugh is another stress buster. I love Peter Jackson's movies and my brother and I are going to see The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug this weekend.

One of my favorite performers, Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers just died of complications of C.O.P.D. There is one thing I will not do and that is give up. Yes I know that C.O.P.D. can kill me but you know something? I plan to have a hell of a good time before that happens.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Vicks is an unfortunate childhood trigger (9+ / 0-)

    been there, doing that....

    I never smoked but always had bad allergies. I know I am allergic to mold and house dust. I keep my apartment as clean as I can. I use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum.  I use Lysol to kill the mold and because I can tolerate the smell without choking up. I dust with wet wipes that gather the dust and not spread it into the air.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 02:03:36 PM PST

  •  Mold chokes me up, too! (7+ / 0-)

    Sadly, we just found out that a Christmas present I got, some nice soap from my parents, triggered my skin allergies. I don't know what does it, but some things, especially vanilla scented ones, get me going.

  •  Try different cat litters. (14+ / 0-)

    I've found the scoopable pine has a LOT less dust and our cat will use it. She won't use the pine pellets or the newspaper pellets, but she'll use the scoopable. There ARE better ones out there than the clay. The pine also seems to cut urine odors down a LOT.

    I can't use lysol sprays, that's instant hospital for me. I can use other aerosol sprays but not lysol. I'm not sure why, but there's something in it that shuts my lungs down. I can use the wipes or the liquid though.

    I've never smoked either, and I have COPD. I too have bad allergies, multiple bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, and my parents both smoked heavily when I was young (my mom quit when I was about 8, my dad didn't quit until I was out of the house).

    The Symbacort samples that the doctor sent home with me are helping in a HUGE way. I'm breathing much easier in the last 3 days. We'll see how my lungs do with the cold snap coming over the next two days followed by an almost 40 degree warm up after.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 02:22:26 PM PST

  •  I was just recently diagnosed with COPD (7+ / 0-)

    It's a mild form but it's bad enough that I get winded climbing hills.

    I first noticed that I was getting short of breath a couple of years ago when I was up at Glacier Point in Yosemite. Glacier Point is at an elevation of 7,200 feet and the thin air made the walk out to the point quite challenging. The odd thing is that back in 2006 I was up there and didn't have any problems.

    My doctor says that the COPD is probably from second hand cigarette smoke.  I never smoked but my mother was a lifelong smoker and I'd spend at least a couple of hours with her every day. And, while she didn't smoke around me the air inside her home always affected me. When I'd get home after being with her I'd start coughing.

    I'm no longer subject to second hand smoke--mother died in 2011--so hopefully this will stabilize. I sure hope so because I can no longer do what I could a few years ago.

     

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:04:07 PM PST

    •  Some Hints (4+ / 0-)

      Make sure you have an "emergency" inhaler with you at all times. These are usually albuterol.

      Walk when you can but don't be afraid to just saunter and go slowly.

      Realize you can't do everything you used to do and find new interests to help fill your time. Art is part of my therapy and doing it on the computer is a necessity since I can no longer hold a pen or paintbrush for any length of time.

      I highly recommend digital photography. Take a camera out on your walks. You will be amazed at some of the pictures the camera takes and will be surprised when you see them on your computer screen.

      C.O.P.D. is an inconvenience but it doesn't have to stop you from living your life to the fullest. If you need someone to talk to message me. I'll be glad to pass on what I have learned or even just listen if that is what you need.

      "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

      by michelewln on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:16:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My doctor gave me a prescription (5+ / 0-)

        for Albuterol and I've used it a few times, but fortunately I don't feel like I need it very often.

        When I'm taking Winston for a walk we take our time. There are some convenient benches along the way so we can stop and rest along the way.

        The thing that bugs me is that I don't have any idea what to expect going forward from here. Can I expect it to get worse? Nobody seems to be able to answer that question because I guess it varies a lot from person to person.

        BTW, you're right about stress being a trigger. I'm finding that I start having problems when I'm on the phone like yesterday when I had to call Wellcare about my prescription drug coverage. Before this came up that kind of thing wouldn't affect me at all, but I found myself getting short of breath and the tembre of my voice shifting.

        My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

        by Mr Robert on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:30:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Eventually you may get worse (4+ / 0-)

          as a matter of fact it's likely. Any future damage done to your lungs will be permanent, so try to avoid it. It's not always possible I know. Get colds treated early, and use decongestants to avoid them going into bronchitis. Get your pneumonia shot and your flu shot if you tolerate it (I don't). Avoid environmental triggers and allergens whenever possible (and keep in mind you may add some to your list as time goes on). Do everything you can to protect your lungs because you'll be more prone to damage and that damage will be there forever and reduce your function. Keep exercising as you can, but take it slow. Take breaks when you get short of breath.

          Learn to listen to your body. If you're having trouble, or if something is going to happen that you can't avoid (a very very cold day, or a very damp day for example) that you know sometimes bothers you, plan to stay inside or take it easy that day.  Also, if you can avoid those higher elevations or give yourself even more time to adjust than you would normally.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:53:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mine Has Stabilized (4+ / 0-)

            I've been lucky. Mine has stabilized. Of course with the stress of caregiving and dealing with a crooked moving company the last couple of days have been horrendous. I have had lots of trouble breathing.

            "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

            by michelewln on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:00:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I haven't had mine tested in a few years (5+ / 0-)

              due to lack of insurance. I'm not sure mine have stabilized but they haven't gotten horrendously worse. They had stabilized before I lost my insurance and thus most of my meds. I tried to take it even easier during this time and thus keep them from worsening, but I don't know how successful I have been. I know I can't breathe while sitting back in a chair for very long any more. I'm getting that COPD posture (which kills my back after a while). I'm hoping with the addition of Symbacort back into my daily routine I will see some improvement in functionality and maybe I can start walking again, at least on the warmer days.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:05:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I'll buy your cookbook, Michelewin! (7+ / 0-)

    Please keep us posted on it.

    Glad you've found ways to cope. You DON'T want to end up in hospital. They have weird, hospital-only, incurable infections there. But do keep in mind what
    Mr. Robert suggests above, "it varies a lot from person to person."

    The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. Mark Twain

    by BlueMississippi on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:44:34 PM PST

    •  Cookbook (6+ / 0-)

      It is on my list of things to try and finish up this year and try to get sold. I may have to break it into smaller chunks as we are at 407 recipes typed in and another about 250 that keep looking at me wondering when I'm going to type them in.

      "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

      by michelewln on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:02:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a lot! (5+ / 0-)

        Can you make a smaller one for maybe an ebook? Say, 50 of your favorites? I would buy both. My mother gave me my all time favorite, "Please to the Table" by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman. It has 400 recipes and over 600 pages, including the notes and index. Best of luck with yours!

        I love reading and seeing about Pixie.

        The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. Mark Twain

        by BlueMississippi on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:39:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Smaller Cookbook (4+ / 0-)

          At this point I am thinking of two cookbooks. One will be the best of my recipes and the other will be what my niece asked for a full cookbook. She also wants me to teach people how to cook. I may do the how to cookbook with a some of the recipes illustrating how I cook and put recipes together. Then I'll do a large cookbook with everything.

          "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

          by michelewln on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:58:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  asymptomatic pulmonary infection (9+ / 0-)

    Many years ago I had an exacerbation of the asthma I was afflicted with at the time.  Eventually I ended up in the ER and and overnight stay in the hospital.  I was seen by my regular doc, the ER doc, and the pulmonary specialist and not a one of them thought to order a CBC(complete blood count).  After that hospital overnight I got a CBC on my own initiative.  It showed elevated WBCs.  After a course of antibiotics the mysterious asthma exacerbation resolved.  

    Upon interviewing a new doctor he said "Most of my patients have elevated WBCs".  Hello!!  There is no law that says chest infections have to be accompanied by acute symptoms.  My only symptom was near death from asthma.

    Since then I have encountered a couple of people with erroneous diagnosis of asthma/COPD who obviously had chest infections, and that did resolve in due course.

    Since then I have also encountered a doc who said that many of his patients fared better after a course of an antifungal.  That also helped.  

    I have not needed any asthma medication for many years at this point.

  •  I see you're aware of some of the ... (3+ / 0-)

    physiological effects of certain foods and spices. Good. On that note, I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine. It's an herb called Mullein, or Verbascum for the official name. It's highly regarded by herbalists for lung problems. My personal experience is that it's very soothing on the lungs and relaxing in a very mildly narcotic sort of way. Don't worry, it's not addictive. I ran out last week and, while I miss it, I'm not about to do anything drastic like go out and pay for some  :)  

    Then again, I just pick it, dry it and smoke it. That's out of the question for you, of course. If you'd like to give it a try, I'd suggest a little of the essential oil in your vaporizer. Start with the tiniest amount and consciously feel for any negative effects. I've never heard of any, other than the fuzz on the raw leaf being irritating, but why take chances? If you can't find the oil, I'm sure a tincture would at least give you the stress-relieving effects.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:59:57 PM PST

  •  wash the cat or vacuum the cat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, michelewln

    keep dander exposure low

  •  I also have Asthma (4+ / 0-)

    but it abates from time to time so they won't make a diagnosis of COPD although I've had bronchitis three times since November. It's such a hassle. I have Ventolin and Advair and Ranitidine HCL and Flutiscason and yet I cough until I throw up. This has gone on for a decade and I'm desperate for something to work.

    The pulmonologist's last diagnosis was silent GERD. His instructions to walk more were a joke.

  •  O.K. Michelewin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    michelewln, churchylafemme

    I only know you from the Monday Night Mystery series, which I always read.  So now I am finding out about this courageous woman who battles a disease, is caretaker for a disabled brother, is an artist, a cook and cookbook compiler, and you know, I suspect you have not told anyone yet, but I bet you are probably going for your pilot's license soon.

    My hat is off to you M., and I wish you the very best.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:23:07 AM PST

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme

      You made me laugh.

      I suspect you have not told anyone yet, but I bet you are probably going for your pilot's license soon.
      Don't tell anyone but I'm flagging down a blue police box because that guy really needs someone like me to pilot that T.A.R.D.I.S. ;)

      "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

      by michelewln on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:33:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a person with COPD and asthma, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme

    I am also a cat lover whose life would not be worth living without these precious creatures.

    One thing I have found out is that fortunately, it’s not the cats and if careful, it’s not the litter either. It turns out that the culprit for me is a multi-chemical sensitivity condition where my asthma is triggered by the chemicals used in perfumes, almost all personal care products, scented detergents, scented dryer sheets, scented air fresheners, cleaning products and yes, scented cat litter. The list goes on and on. I take some heavy medications to control the condition, but cannot completely control my environment.

    I had to retire years before I had planned because I worked in an office with over three hundred employees who wore all kinds of scented products. My C.O.P.D and asthma developed over a span of 12 years where I was exposed to all of these synthetic chemicals for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks per year times 12 years. The weekends were not much better since many in my neighborhood were doing their laundry, leaching chemically scented detergent and dryer sheet fragrances all over the neighborhood.

    That’s enough of my personal struggle, but the point I wanted to make here is that these synthetic chemicals are everywhere in our normal environment, from work to movies, restaurants, grocery stores and malls. Many of the chemicals in scented products are toxic to the respiratory system and can even disrupt the entire endocrine system. Most folks do not have immediate reactions to the chemicals as I do, but we are all still breathing the toxic chemical soup. Hopefully, some of you will consider what you are exposed to on a daily basis and investigate further. It’s not just one thing.

    Good Luck!

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