As an opportunity to provide not only tangible and practical advice, I decided that this blog would also be dedicated to mental health, reassurances and spreading knowledge or awareness.
Added to that is the therapeutic effect of being able to write about all of this and really illuminate the path for myself and others, find our way, express and get it all out! It also means others going through a similar thing can either do a nodding of the head and feel understood or to become better educated so we can all deal with it together. It may also teach others to understand better, remove the stigma and judgements that go with it.
- COPD is usually caused by smoking. In most cases, COPD can usually be caused by heavy smoking, but it is not always the case. In mine, I have a unique genetic deficiency (of which they’re yet to figure out which one it is and I still have a series of tests to go through with the Genetics team). For those who do have it because of smoking, it is also NOT anyone’s right to judge you and say it was self-inflicted and therefore it’s your own fault. This is unfair and extremely judgemental, no matter what lifestyle you carried. It’s like saying someone who has cancer and overweight got cancer because he or she ate bad things all her life. Yes it’s sensible to stop smoking if you’re diagnosed, but dwelling on bad past choices is useless.
- Exercise is probably bad for COPD sufferers as it makes them more breathless. Yes, we can get more breathless at the best and worst of times, but exercise is CRITICAL for us, even if it is just a 10 minute walk outside. Check out my blog post on breathing techniques. In fact, the less you move, the weaker your respiratory muscles will get and overall immune system will deteriorate. Weak muscles also require more oxygen and it could make you worst off. Being supple, strong and healthy is still important so gentle exercise that will strengthen muscles and keep the blood going will help.
- As it’s not a physical, visible ailment, you’re not disabled. WRONG! Just as mental illnesses are gaining more attention and recognition that it is a real disease and not some made up, attention seeking ploy; COPD should also be considered seriously and with lots of attention from professionals and members of society. All too often, I’m met with ‘Can’t you just use inhalers?’ or glowering looks from people who are mad that I’ve used a disabled parking space. Even some professionals may not dig deep enough and pass it off as severe asthma. It’s called an ‘invisible illness’. People can’t really see what’s wrong with you and therefore don’t think you’re disabled. And don’t know how much you suffer inside. It’s an awful feeling, so my advice for sufferers is to not let their opinions affect you because it really is a waste of energy (little of which you have). And make sure your doctors or consultants provide real answers for you. A diagnosis, the cause, treatment plan, wholly integrated medical care and regular check-ups. And for ‘normal’ people to be more understanding. If ‘normal’ people would like to take it to the next level, please breath through a straw all day or try it while you’re exercising. That’s how it is for us sufferers, all day, every day.
Is anyone else going through these feelings or facing any other challenges? If so, I’d love to hear from you and we can add to this list or write another post!