“I can breathe: I overcame COPD and we can face any challenge”. This is what my husband Don “Fuzzy” Nichols has to say when he want’s to express gratitude. When the oil market slowed down in Texas, which is a big deal for us, he said, “I can breathe.”
If I complain about anything, he says “Do you know how grateful I am, I can breathe.” Of course I need to remember to tell him to breathe when we are in traffic.
I have watched Don’s breathing improve over the last 13 years. Two week ago, Don had his yearly doctors appointment to check his lungs. He came in and told me that Tony told him that it was the best yearly exam in 16 years. Don was diagnosed with end stage COPD 16 years ago. He never uses phrases like end stage COPD, it sounds scary and insurmountable.
Don decided to go to respiratory rehab. He walked his way back to breathing without having to use an oxygen tank. Take that walk so your story is not about saving all your energy to breath.
I read blogs that explain what it is like to live with COPD. I am sure they are helpful. They tell you to wear elastic pants to save energy putting on your clothing and other helpful tips. Don was so sick that his Doctor did not tell him to go to rehab. It was good advice but the only action plan the Doctor gave was to “quit smoking”. He told him they would make him comfortable. They sent him home with oxygen and medication. Only after surfing the internet did Don decided to ask his Doctor about rehab. So if you have end stage COPD do not think, “I am sicker than this man, I cannot get better”. Even if your Doctor does not see that you could improve, that is not the last word.
Breathing freely. Being able to say, “I can breathe”. Breathing could be in reach. Check into going to respiratory rehab. Take action, take the steps that will lead you to breathing.I want to hear your story of, “How I Over Came COPD”.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE: OVERCOME COPD.There are some great commercials on TV now to encourage people to stop smoking. The commercials are good. But my purpose for telling my story of HOW I OVERCAME COPD is to inspire YOU TO OVERCOME COPD, to find your trigger to overcome COPD, to CHALLENGE YOU TO OVERCOME COPD.
People in these commercials say things like “I have end stage COPD” and “I can only go as far as the end of this hose goes”. I want to find these people and share the good news: YOU CAN OVERCOME COPD.
I found myself at the end of that airline and decided to problem solve. I put a topper on the back of my truck so I could fill an oxygen tank up so I could travel. I found a portable tank so I could leave the house. I made a backpack so I could work in my yard hands free. Sitting in the house focused on what I did to deserve this disease did not change the outcome. I changed my focus from grieving the poor decision to smoke to what I could do to change my life for the better. I committed to walk five days a week. I committed to change my thinking. “I feel healthy, happy and terrific.” I live in gratitude for each day. These are some of the things I have done to OVERCOME COPD.
I challenge you to forgive yourself and move from grief to a plan to take back your health and OVERCOME COPD. I challenge you to take back your life one step at a time. I challenge you to decide to say “I FEEL, HEALTHY, HAPPY AND TERRIFIC” and “I CAN OVERCOME COPD”.
[contact-form] Walk to overcome COPD. Walking is the safest form of exercise, it gives the most benefits without too much stress on your body. Walking can reboot your life. No matter where you are in your personal journey to overcome COPD walking is the top weapon in your battle.
Walking overcomes the mental and physical problems of COPD. Walking improves the vascular system. Walking effectively fights depression. The Cooper Clinic did a study that found that three 30 minute walks a week were as effective as being on an anti-depressant. A study from the Cleveland Clinic says 10,000 steps a day is the goal to reach for everyone for the most effective health benefits. Some studies say the biggest benefits from walking come in the first 180 minutes a week. Walking holds benefits no matter where your are in your battle to overcome COPD. I have walked for 12 years, at the beginning I rested every 15 steps but I kept walking to overcome COPD.
All of us start at different places in our battle to overcome COPD. My fitness level was pushing a cart at Wal-Mart. I started my walking program with a coach, my respiratory therapist who set up an individual walking program for me. The goals were to maximize my potential. I pushed forward as I meet each goal, then I set a new goal, alway challenging the things as they are now. The thing that is good about walking, there is always the next goal, another benefit. That I would get off oxygen was not in my dreams at the when I started my walking program but I did get off oxygen by walking. I walk to overcome COPD. I urge and challenge you to take up your walk to overcome COPD.
To overcome COPD a good attitude is important. Pick an affirmation that means something to you. Don picked, “I feel heathy, happy and terrific”. He learned this affirmation when he was young at a conference on selling insurance. . David Burns, Md (http://feeling good.com) wrote a book called “Feeling Good”. The theme of his book is people do better when they do not focus on self-defeating thoughts. Some self-defeating thoughts would be, “I did this to myself”, “I cannot change” or “I deserve this”. Consider changing these thoughts to “I can change”or “With each day my health is improving”. With exercise, improved diet, medication and a healthy attitude it is possible to overcome COPD.
To overcome COPD choosing a health coach is a good place to start. Your coach will help you to believe that it is possible for your health to improve. The coach will help you see past the obstacles and issues of COPD. Your coach will help you gain new awareness that will help in your battle with COPD. The coach will help you find your personal vision of what is would be like to maximize your health potential while living with COPD. The coach will help you come up with a strategy and then help you take action to overcome COPD. A coach can help you through the process of choosing how to focus your thoughts, the exercise you do and the food you choose to eat. The right coach could even help you stop smoking if you have not met that goal yet. My coaching advice would be to urge you to add good friends to your life. Starting with a pulmonary rehabilitation program would be a good place to start. Choose your coach wisely, my coach was a respiratory therapist who set up a program to maximize my potential to overcome COPD.
To overcome COPD you must stop smoking. Don is playing golf, so I am going to tackle this subject. Don stopped smoking before we met. This is so important. I would not have married him if he had not quit. (He thinks I am cute, It would have been a big loss.) We would not have met. He would more than likely be dead.
Not smoking is an important part of overcoming COPD. The list of reasons to quit smoking are long. Here are the reasons Don would tell you he quit.
- I want to live.
- I never want to be intubated again.
After he quit and started feeling better here are his reasons for not smoking.
- I am living a great life.
- I have been able to get off oxygen.
- I do not need pills that have anything to do with blood flow or blood pressure.
- I play golf, I use my boat, I can go dancing with the Red Head.
- I have 98% blood oxygen levels.
The list on the Chantix page is a lot like Don’s healing. One step at a time.
- 24 hours Blood Pressure and heart rate may drop.
- 48 hours-Carbon monoxide level in the blood may return to normal.
- 2 to 12 weeks Circulation may improve and lung function can increase.
- 1 year after quitting – Excess risk of coronary disease is half that of a smoker.
- 10 +years – Risk of lung cancer death is half of a non-smoker.
- 15 + years Risk of stroke and coronary heart disease is that of a non smoker.
There are other lists. Find the one that means something to you, so you can overcome COPD.
My wife’s daughter who is a young MD and not a pulmanologist told her mother that they did not teach her in med school you could overcome COPD with exercise and diet.
The only message I heard after my very skilled Doctor saved my life was “I will make you comfortable”. He prescribed me oral steroids, an inhaled steroid, anti-depressant, blood pressure meds and oxygen. I sat on the sofa for two years. There was no action plan to improve my health, or was I too shocked to hear the plan?
My life changed when a girl walked up to me in Walmart and asked me if she could pray for me to get better, I agreed. That prayer was the first step to my recovery. I started researching the different options I might make to improve my health. I had been an athlete as a young man, the pulmonary rehab option made sense as the first line of action.
In pulmonary rehab I learned that walking would be one of the keys to my recovery. Walking reduces lung infections, lowers blood pressure, strengthened the cardiovascular system and helps with depression.
I was able to stop my oral steroids, blood pressure meds, antidepressants and oxygen. I still use Symbicort and Spiriva.
Changing my diet was and is a key part of regaining my health. I learn more and more about the benefits of eating whole foods.
No matter what is going on I say “I feel healthy, happy and terrific” drink my coffee and then head out to the gym. Exercise has been the key to me being able to overcome COPD.
Before, I overcame my COPD, I found myself on the sofa, depressed not able to do anything. The lyric I was singing was John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone”. I was in a hole and I needed to get out of it so my doctor gave me Prozac. Fear of death is not a big enough reason to change your health. Loving my life, my friends and family were the reasons that could make me take on the changes it took to change my life. The medication helped me be able to start the work it takes to get healthy.
I could not really get out so I talked to people on-line who understood. Loneliness, depression and isolation are not your friends.
If you need medication get on it. Get a support group, talking to people who understand helps. Find something to do with your hands when you want to smoke or eat junk food. Online games? Sudoku.
I am no longer on an antidepressant but it was a good choice for me in the beginning of this journey to overcome COPD.
I heard the commercial comparing COPD to having an elephant on your chest. It is! It went on to state that COPD is a progressive disease that does not get better. We know this is a disclaimer to say the medications are not claiming to cure the disease but come on, you can improve your health with exercise. My wife had already been pointing it out to me that everything she read about COPD was not communicating this life changing and powerful message “You can regain your health with something as simple as a walk.
You have to get started. Go to respiratory rehab and start walking. I did not feel like it. I never feel like it. But I do feel like breathing, living, playing golf, taking my wife dancing. I enjoy having a great life.
I use my medications everyday, I have COPD. But, I walk everyday and I went from sitting on the sofa on oxygen to playing golf. It did not happen over night. But each improvement made the next improvement possible.
I take Spirivia, it is a great medication for me and has helped in my battle to overcome COPD. I found it on the internet when it first came to the United States. When, I went on an office visit to see my doctor, I asked him if it would be a good drug for me to try. He told me he would look into it for me. I also take Symbicort and Singular. I was able to get off the Prednisone a year ago but when I needed the drug it helped save my life.
As a disclaimer all drug manufactures state that COPD is a progressive disease that does not get better. They want you to know that they are not a cure. They may not be a cure but they can help with the relief of symptoms. With the relief of your symptoms you can to do the work you need to do to improve your health. You can improve your health with diet and exercise. You cannot wait till you feel like exercising, you have to get up and do what Nike says “Just do it” if you are going to overcome COPD.