For COPD, Bronchiectasis Asthma or Respiratory sufferers

Being free and being healthy

In my last post, I acknowledged that I needed to write an equal amount of posts that were about happiness (not just me venting when something bad happens). And of course,  to continue with my main purpose of writing this blog- helping others, providing advice and practical tips.

Also pleased to report that after a two-week stint in hospital, my chest and breathing is the best it has ever been for what feels like about 3 or 4 months. The ‘sacrifice’ was worth it as the intensive treatment managed to kill off any bugs I had. I no longer feel like I’m suffocating. And it’s just a reminder, more and more that one should be in touch with their body, more intuitive if they can, and to listen to their body. This is a hard job and I thought I was ‘qualified’, but I’m not. I also had to let go of my stubborn nature and listen to others properly including my doctor who was keen to treat me and look after me properly. He knows my stance on over-use of antibiotics, but in this case it was necessary. And he was also right.

A good way to think of this, is that most extreme spiritualists will vilify ‘western’ approaches and modern medication, but the truth is, without it, humans wouldn’t be living as long as they are living. Some spiritualists are too inward looking, the ‘western’ approach can be too outward looking. Balance is what is needed. You need both e.g. you can’t just sit and meditate all day think peace, health, tranquility and harmony will just arrive. Some action is required e.g. effort is required for you to have a good diet, exercise etc.

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When things thing seem to majorly fuck up

Sometimes I question myself when I’m writing at the time of when bad or negative things happen. And it’s a mental note to myself to be more mindful and write, record and share happy things too!

But it often makes sense, because you go deep within , start reflecting like a maniac and are in complete exasperation when things majorly fuck up.Then you just want to meditate, journal, shift and write the negative energy away, so that’s what I’m doing!

And it’s not that chronic sufferers (ahem, warriors) should get special VIP treatment when bad things happen, because bad things happen to everyone, not just us. But sometimes you’re thinking- GOD DAMN it, this is just NOT FUCKING FAIR.

All summer, I had been struggling with a couple of common cold/flu infections due to COPD making my system more vulnerable to bugs. But there was one secret lurking demon, and that came in the form of ‘psuedomonas’. It’s a superbug known to affect vulnerable immune systems such as CF, COPD/Bronchiectasis and elderly patients who are already ill. Having picked it up in May 2018, it was treated with oral antibiotics over a week. Or at least I thought so.

I had kept myself busy and was deliberately trying to, so I could circumvent the loneliness I was feeling from being a remote worker. I was trying to create social opportunities for myself, spend time with quality friends, had two weddings, a weekend hen party abroad and another wedding abroad in Greece. And a holiday yoga retreat  booked to Bali. I was excited to have a busy, full-on summer filled with fun, good company, lots of new things to explore and doing things I love with people I love. Normality was all I wanted. Interaction, human connection and good health. And it was the first year I’ve planned a lot and been ambitious since being diagnosed with COPD.

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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?”

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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!

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