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COPD Flareups and Dependencies

Well last week was certainly one for the books. My Computer crashed and I had to rebuild it out of parts, which are getting thin on the ground as this is an old machine running XP. As part of my treatment regime I walk and lay around my house with a cannula pumping oxygen into my lungs at a rate of 2 liters per minute. I am getting good moving around and not getting the hose tangled up. Hell, I am just getting to the point where I wake up with the cannula still in place.

Therein creeps up the first dependency. Going places without that oxy shortens the time available to do things outside the house. Having to pump up with the magic drugs to get ready for road trips which are much shorter in time and distance is a drag. I feel okay at rest, but as soon as I move around breathing becomes problematic. Being clean and sober for 28 years does not minimize the whole cycle of dependency. Intellectually I know that this is different than being a drunk and a dope fiend, but emotionally it grinds on my brain.

Last Saturday morning I had a flareup, which is an inability to breathe despite my regular regime of meds. Basically a flareup is your lungs tighten up to the point where you literally are panting like a dog and cannot catch your breath. (Humidity is a big factor in COPD, as you feel that you are breathing in cotton balls) Ended making my first and hopefully my last 911 call. The Firemen were stellar in getting me stabilized for transport. Went to a New ER for treatment. 7 hours later I came home, still breathing slow, but regular.

Sunday I woke up to find my dog Walnut died,(she had been with me for 13 years) so I ended up in the ER again, but my regular one.(yeah I know how weird that sounds, just like the sitcom Cheers ‘where everybody knows your name)A friend came and drove me there. I used to drive myself, and hope I can continue to do that in the future.

The ER regime includes a dose of Magnesium sulfate, which works to relax the smooth muscles, aka your lungs. Also are steroids which help in getting the lungs to relax and work. This is usually good for a couple of days of really good breathing so I can get stuff done around the house. Depending on the results of blood tests, sometimes a course of antibiotics are added.

One of the standard diagnostic tools are x-rays of the lungs. X-Ray imaging is electronic now. No more developing of film and waiting to dry before looking at images on a light box. The shot becomes an image file that can be viewed immediately.

(Tech Tip: COPD has a tendency to lengthen the lungs, so tell the x-ray tech to use ‘portrait; over ‘landscape’ will help capture the lungs in one image vs 2.)

Part of my new lifestyle includes the ‘good’ parking next to shops, and being one of those folks riding around the grocery store in the motorized carts. Which is good news. The not so good news is that my limits on activity become shorter over time.

Early in my internet life when I was actively building websites, dreaming of sitting in front of the keyboard in my bathrobe and making money was the plan. That didn’t last very long, as anybody who is still active can tell you. Well now I am retired in front of the keyboard in my bathrobe.

Bur hey, I am still on the green side of things:)