For COPD, Bronchiectasis Asthma or Respiratory sufferers

Top coping strategies for COPD

I feel my last couple of posts were heavy. But to be clear, not in an ashamed way, I feel proud of being able to be openly vulnerable. Many mindfulness masters, if you like, will encourage the idea of ‘surrendering’, being open to failure, risk and having an open heart. I really do believe it’s the key to ultimate healing, whatever life circumstances or health conditions are thrown at you. It’s the only way to grow, love and be unapologetically human.

First three months of 2018 had been tough for me emotionally and on my already ‘weakened’ lungs and immune system. I’d gone through a breakup, lost my grandma and went through an operation. Those have all passed now and each one has been a journey in and of itself, with huge efforts to sustain my condition.

It’s also prudent to check in with oneself, even when life isn’t being volatile, tough to cope with or if you’re generally feeling well. Only because prevention is better than cure ūüėČ

So whilst life goes on these are the following ‘life maintenance’ and keeping-health-in- check hacks.

  • Take your medication regularly:¬†sounds obvious but if you don’t, an onset of COPD symptoms can come on quite quickly. Also be aware of your cycles, for example I take the preventative antibiotic Azythromycin, but only seasonally (in the winter months). As I don’t want to be over-reliant on antiobiotics, but I do for example, take my COPD inhalers every day along with Carbocisteine and my nebuliser in the morning and at night. Also educate yourself on being organic- without vilifying western medicine, it is important to not be over-reliant on drugs, especially in a pill-heavy society when the default is to swallow medicine expecting magic. It’s about balance. Western medicine can do wonders for us, but too much of it can also be dangerous.
  • Exercise:¬†The last thing you’ll want to do is get more out of breath, but it is important to keep the respiratory muscles strong. Just as muscles can physically grow and get stronger with regular exercise, so can your organs. Energetically, you will also benefit from detoxifying your body of negative vibes ;). It is rewarding too, mentally, to be able to overcome something even with your physical challenges and limitations.¬† ¬†Check out my post on exercising and breathing.¬†For COPD sufferers, I really recommend yoga, pilates or tai chi. It’s not as vigorous as cardio programmes but still very challenging and excellent for strength, endurance, fitness and keeping your mind balanced, calm and humble.
  • Eating right:¬†Whether you’re over-weight or under-weight, the key is to manage it so that you’re not exerting pressure on your organs to process and detoxify. It should be balanced. And for me, I’m under-weight, and even a 2kg increase would provide functional improvements, so I make a conscious effort to eat nourishing foods (and swear by avacado’s every day!) I try to avoid processed foods/sugar/salt etc. Plenty of greens and fresh fruit, fish, chicken and protein. I also only drink warm water¬†(not cold), ginger tea, green tea and milk (despite the myths around milk being mucus causing). Find whatever works and be good to your body. I also take cod liver supplements, ginger root and ginseng.
  • Masks: I live in the north of Scotland, less polluted, but a hell-of-alot windier/colder! And with that, it can be very difficult to go out for walks (especially when we’ve had what has felt like the longest winter this year). That said, you don’t want to be limited, so it’s worth investing it something like a vogmask and buffwear.¬†
  • Saltcaves:¬†Consider amplifying your preventative approach or if you’re feeling ill currently, attending regular therapeutic salt sessions. I regularly attend the salt cave clinics and can confidently say it’s helping keep my lungs clear (along with salt inhalers and himalayan lamps!). You can always a¬† try a pilot if you’re unsure but the benefits are endless.


Dealing with the ebb and flow of life

The past few months has been a whirlwind. And once again, like 99% of the human population I’ve been seeking answers when in deep despair and suffering.

The unknown, from time to time, creeps into my head, especially in moments of quiet and loneliness. And the past few months, there’s been a lot of that, where I’ve endured personal heartbreak. One of which I won’t expand upon in this post because it’s too personal and painful.¬† But where I have the liberty to delve into my coping strategies for grief, loss, fear, anxiety and worry. In the hope that it may help others.

Coupled with my chronic condition, which hurled up more ‘mysteries’ and the unknowns of life, emotionally I felt like a burn victim- red, raw and in severe pain. And it was hard for me to separate, completely separate events if you get what I mean.

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Coping with COPD in winter

I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to live in Scotland. In winter, it has breathtaking views, crisp mornings, incredible sunrises and starry nights. It can encapsulate all the features a wonderful and sparkly, merry winter is supposed contain.

But for chronic sufferers and those with COPD, it can be a dangerous beauty. I make all the effort I can in winter, to wrap up, eat well, sleep well and take all my vitamins, but it still didn’t stop me getting hospitalised for four nights just this week.

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The many faces of COPD

Having been asked by British Lung Foundation to support their campaign, the many faces of COPD, for World COPD Day, it is a great opportunity to show you some of the myths and facts around it.

In my previous post about the misconceptions of COPD¬†, there’s a long list of preconceived ideas surrounding what it is or isn’t. But these are the main facts you should be aware of:

  • COPD is NOT a smokers disease. Other factors such as genetic or environmental can contribute to its cause.
  • COPD is NOT an elderly persons disease.¬†As above, it’s not restricted to people of a certain age. With emerging causes such as air pollution, many factors can affect people from all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.

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40 mile cycle ride- help us raise funds!

Three weeks ago, my second cousin, Mike To, based in Liverpool reached out to me and I was blown away by his message.

He was moved and inspired by my video here¬†which I’d posted on social media in an effort to raise awareness on COPD and its effects. And he thanked me for doing so, as well as telling me that he wanted to do a bike ride to raise funds for British Lung Foundation (BLF).

Incredibly, he is training hard to do the cycle in time for World COPD Day, 15th November. And he will cycle from Liverpool to Manchester, which is 40 miles!

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Complacency and its relationship with chronic illness

For anyone suffering any type of long-term illness or chronic condition, it can be easy to surrender to it and become part of what seems like a never ending, ill-fated destiny.

Getting into the vicious cycle becomes ever harder to get out of and you then start to become a passive bystander. This can be dangerous, where you somewhat just let life pass you by and not enjoy it to its fullest extent. It can be soul destroying for others who also turn to addictive, negative habits to numb out the pain or to help them forget, such as alcoholism or drug-use for example.

Coping with an illness can be hard physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, so the easy route appears to be those realms of self-destruction.

OR at the opposite end of the spectrum, where actually, you’re not participating in anything untoward, but just simply trudging along, surviving, but not living.¬†

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Why a holiday should be a holiday

Loving one’s self can be a full time job. And in those daily thoughts to yourself, you may always be thinking, what should I be doing right now and what should I do next?

The mind is always pushing itself to fulfil your heart’s desires and to make you happy. And having just come back from a 10 day ‘annual leave’, there were times I’d ‘quickly’ log on to my work emails just to ‘keep up with what’s happening’ and not ‘miss anything important’. I felt the pressure to always be available and wanted to present myself professionally, ¬†in a way that others would view me as forever reliable and hard-working. Especially as a remote worker (more on this in another post). And I felt guilty for not writing a post on this in just over a month.

But it was a battle between, keep yourself switched on and brain wired for healthy stimulation and sanity vs full rest and recovery for health and relaxation.

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Probiotics the antidote to antibiotics?

Anyone with COPD or any other chronic condition for that matter will fully understand and appreciate that your body can go through HELL when you’re on a million medications daily.

Undoubtedly, with pills and tablets manipulating how your body works on a cellular level and messing with your hormones for example, things will naturally be knocked out of balance.

For me in particular, I’ve been on over 25 weeks of antibiotics this year alone¬†and take one daily as a preventative measure to protect my lungs from bad bacteria. This itself is insane and scary when I say it out loud. Especially in the age, where there is heavy promotion about the unnecessary issue and overuse of antibiotics. That said, I tried the whole ‘anti’ antibiotics stance earlier this year and I ended up in hospital twice for coughing up lots of blood.

This has had its consequences for sure, as whilst the daily antibiotic for me is an ‘essential’ for my lungs , it also stripped away the good bacteria in my body as well as the bad bacteria. As a result, my immune system became weaker and it seems to be the cause of another major problem that I kept getting and where I had already been operated on in 2015.

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Top exercises for lung disease sufferers

I appreciate that the last thing one who suffers a chronic disease, wants to do, is to engage in anything that gets them out of breath.

And there’s a big ‘BUT’ coming… which is the reason why this could be dangerous to do so. In a previous post I’ve written before on breathing , it explores the idea that, if you don’t exercise, ¬†your muscles will weaken and in turn requires more oxygen, putting more pressure on your body.

Overall, NOT exercising can weaken your immune system and ability to remain strong, agile and flexible as well as having less control over your breathing.

Coming from a person who was very active prior to my symptoms and initial diagnosis, I found it hard to adjust and find a good balance for what ideal exercise was. I was either all or nothing. In the beginning, ¬†I was scared to even do anything and as a result of anxiety, I halted all activities. This wasn’t healthy either and it meant I didn’t have an outlet to rid of stress or toxins, so I was in horrid place.

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