For COPD, Bronchiectasis Asthma or Respiratory sufferers

Why you shouldn’t be complacent with COPD

When it comes to coping with a chronic condition, TRUST me, I know what it’s like to feel like giving up and turning into a piece of jelly.

Sometimes, you just have really bad days, where either you want a superhero to come along and save you (preferably in the form of Chris Hemsworth ;))  or a miracle to happen. Yet, if you’ve followed my story (check it out featured on Sunday Mirror, Real People and Network Health Digest), or blog pieces, you’ll know that I have a Buddhist mindset. Meaning- don’t react to it or become a passive bystander. Whatever you can control, you can do so with mental strength to overcome a bad situation or learn from it. Otherwise, if you literally do nothing, you will become nothing.

Besides, there’s always the rewarding/ self-actualisation feeling that comes from the link between effort and reward. Who wants to be handed something on a plate for doing nothing? It’s not a nice feeling that way.

“So tell me Kim, what is it I must do, in order to overcome or help my chronic respiratory/ COPD problem?”

The following are areas I’ve addressed individually in separate blog pieces, but as a summary it’s good to have a go-to-check list that will help you along the way:

  • Yoga- Yes that’s me in the pic mid-way through the wheel pose (check out point no 3). People have this preconceived idea I’m physically disabled (and sometimes I feel like it yes, but I never stop trying).  I swear by yoga, and even practice it if I’m admitted into hospital (yes that’s right!) when I’m feeling slightly better, the next day, after a horrendous episode/infection. Its my saving grace. Just google the benefits of yoga and you’ll see why it’s wise and makes sense to. It helps with blood flow, promotes oxygen circulation, reduces stress and inflammation with both mental and physical benefits. My favourite poses are many of the “chest-openers” as crude as that sounds, it helps with stretching the lungs e.g. Bow pose, wheel pose, fish pose, camel pose, mountain pose- all of which you can You Tube “20 min yoga session” for beginners and get started. For inspiration you can also get some ideas from me on instagram @kimmyinrhapsody and see my yoga video’s there. I even managed to achieve my splits (nothing to do with helping my lungs, but as a result of regular yoga, my flexibility is awesome!). WHY would you not want this?!
  • General exercise – Cardio is important as it strengthens the respiratory muscles, so I try to incorporate walking ( I go out with my dog at least 25 mins per day)/ cross-trainer at the gym etc. I also go to the gym 4-5 times per week and invested in a Personal Trainer to help me with strength training. This can help you go a long way and also with increasing breathing capacity, controlled breaths, endurance etc.
  • Diet- A no-brainer really, but I try to avoid processed foods. I don’t follow a strict diet, but my risk of losing weight means I need to eat lots, but lots of good stuff, so many greens, proteins, fruit and leafy green veg. Example on type of foods I consume are here and drinks wise, here.
  • Regular check ups and medication- I’m lucky to have one of the best doctors in Scotland, that is proactive and really cares about my well-being. But making sure you have regular check ups to keep an eye on your lung function, trajectory, its trends etc are your KPI’s on how you’re doing, letting you know if you need to make any lifestyle adjustments etc. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask your doctors questions, for any extra help, changing medication etc. As for medication, take what you’ve been given religiously e.g COPD inhalers, antibiotics, any supportive supplements ( I have ginger root, Vitamin C and turmeric) etc.
  • Planning, travel and clothing – Generally I keep and eye on the weather and pollution levels, which you can access from just about any weather app. If it’s going to be windy or I’m in London for example and I must go out (usually I try to avoid), I always wear my Vogmask.

COPD does NOT mean you should halt all things ( I did this for a while after being diagnosed and battling the stagnant mental negative thoughts that sucked me into a black, disabling self-pity party for a while!). But trust me, you if you can look up after falling down, you CAN- get up and do all that you can to lead a healthy, somewhat active and normal lifestyle.  It’s more reassuring to know that you are trying, that to not try at all.



What a good COPD diet looks like

In all honesty, I think several posts are required to address this delicate area! As everyone’s body is different plus there’s a lot of conflicting or confusing information out there! For example, is milk good or bad for us COPD sufferers? Does it trigger more mucus production or is that just a myth?

Additionally, when I say it’s your own journey, it really is. For example, with my specific body weight, I have to make a conscious effort to put on weight, with COPD sufferers typically using up to 10 x more calories than an average body. Because it’s using more energy to fight, heal and repair. In some instances, people will be overweight and this puts further pressure on the organs, where you may need to lose weight.

Either way, having experimented over the years with foods that are good and bad for me, research, dietician visits and advice from my own qualified dietician cousin, I can give some insight to what I consciously try to incorporate into my diet each day.

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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.

The latter months of 2017 and beginning 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 😉

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

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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!

Continue reading “40 mile cycle ride- help us raise funds!”

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.

Continue reading “Why a holiday should be a holiday”

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