It’s been a while since I posted!
And in complete honesty, the last two weeks have been quite tough for me where I’ve been fraught with infection, illness and generally feeling down. I haven’t had the motivation to do much.
But these are the things that make us human as we go through the ebbs and flows of life. It’s what gives me the inspiration to write about these experiences and what we can do about them.
Any other COPD sufferer will know, inside-out, what it’s like when you first get infected and re-infected, whether it’s the common cold or some type of influenza. It’s safe to say, it doesn’t go down like any ‘normal’ healing process. It takes double the time as an ‘average’ person because your immune system is already compromised. And half the time, it’s battling to breath properly, never mind fighting an infection. It really is tough-going.
So what does that feel like?
Well, over the christmas period and to date, I’ve been infected with Haemophilus Influenza (horribly sounds like a pandemic, but it’s not) three times! Because of my already-weak immunity, it never really went away and kept reoccurring.
The last two weeks especially, has taken its toll and I’ve felt super lethargic, sick, constantly coughing, breathless, wheezy and virtually no energy to do anything. I’ve been sleeping a lot because my body is tired, where even moving from room to room seems a feat, never mind taking the stairs or venturing outside.
I also had a recent appointment too with my specialist consultant in my hometown, which I have almost every month to continue monitoring my condition ( if this isn’t happening for you as a COPD sufferer, please make sure it does!)
He was sympathetic to my situation, but reminded me, that despite my reservations of taking Azithromycin (an inflammatory antibiotic) every day and in my attempt to take more ‘natural’ remedies, my condition means I have little room for any more damage or infections. The lesson learned here, is that where I naively stopped my intake of Azithromycin around Christmas time, because I felt it might be bad for my body taking so many pills per day- it was ultimately a bad decision. I didn’t consult my doctor and was probably the reason I exposed myself to getting infected in the first place!
I was also down because it as the first time the conversation was driven towards those two dreaded words- Lung Transplantation. It wasn’t new to me, as I’ve done all my research on Emphysema and its different stages. But his concern was that, if at the age of 30, I had ‘black’ lungs all over like a heavy smoker, and this was how severe it was now at such a young age, how would it be in 5, 10 or 15 years time? He didn’t rule out lung transplantation because Emphysema is a condition that does mean deterioration. And until there is a cure, the damage is irreversible. It’s just a case of how progressive or fast that deterioration is.
And all we can do, as COPD sufferers, whilst we can’t improve it, we can take steps to prevent it getting worst. Initially, I was panicked and beaten down with it, in the ‘why me’, feeling sorry for myself mode? After all, I have never once smoked and lead a healthy lifestyle. Many COPD guides state that once you’re diagnosed and if it’s in severe stage, it can feel like a death-sentence. As dramatic as that sounds, that facts are that quality of life can be decreased and life-span shortened.
But somewhere in the past couple of days, I discovered my resilience again and reminded myself that I would cross that bridge when I got there, not to worry too much about the future and take it day by day. And even, in the worst case scenario, if that was the path I had to take where I did have to get a transplant, then technology and surgeons never cease to amaze me in their life-saving pursuits and successes. I also reminded myself that it only gets worst, if you’re contributing to that (e.g continuing to smoke, not taking precaution etc). And it’s like a Diabetes sufferer, they may have to take injections or medications for life, and so do we COPD sufferers. Anyone with an chronic or lifetime illness does.
I also write this as I recover at my parent’s house because I’ve spent 4 days so far here just to get some respite and for someone to take care of me.
And the last part is important to emphasise, because I would urge my fellow sufferers to seek help where they can and never feel embarrassed about leaning on others. You don’t have to do everything by yourself, especially in times of need or when you are more vulnerable than ever. Getting cared for by someone else for a short time or while you need it to recover, is never ever a bad thing. I don’t regret it either, I slept solidly for about 14 hours over one night at the weekend and badly needed it! But it did my body SO much goodness. My parents let me have the rest, looked after my dog, fed me and gave me a lot of TLC. And even though I’m 30, parents will always be parents!
One other thing that inspired me to write this post was some encouragement from my partner. He reminded me that I don’t have to write everyday, but use the opportunity to go over the experiences and what I’ve done to improve matters, what the ‘pick me ups’ are, and how I’ve helped my own situation physically and emotionally.
So without further ado, here are some of the things I recommend:
- Every morning, drink ginger tea and brown sugar (the Chinese way)- recipe here
- It’s detoxifying and a natural anti inflammatory
- The trick, is, not to slice the ginger, but actually peel it and crush it with a meat tenderizer or garlic type crusher. By crushing it and placing it in hot water, it helps get all the flavour and properties out.
- Sleep more
- Cliche, but those 14 hours in one night did amazingly for me, though it should be consistently 8 hours at least, each night, not just one-off’s
- Don’t fret about not being able to do anything
- e.g gym, house chores, shopping etc. All those things use energy and you don’t have much when you’re ill and have COPD. Get someone else to help you.
- Relax with Netflix, meditation, reading or a bath!
- I’ve done all of them and simply just taking my mind off life-pressures and things like ‘learning’ or moving, being on the go etc, takes a back seat. It sounds lazy, but for the body to heal, it really needs rest. Guilt, once again, is a useless emotion. Free yourself of it.
- Don’t skimp on doctors advice or orders.
- As above, when I thought I was doing myself good by ‘eliminating all those pills’ out of my body, I actually did myself more harm.
- Whilst natural remedies are important, a balance is key and you can’t disregard ‘western medicine’. After all, we live longer and have eliminated the world of deadly diseases with the advances of medicine and technology.
- Rely on others
- And I don’t mean that in a dependant, needy kind of way, but when in times of ‘need’ (any infections to a COPD sufferer really is serious), get help from friends or family. They are friends and family for a reason and if true to that, they wouldn’t want to see you suffer. Given COPD’s progressive nature, you really can’t battle everything yourself and shouldn’t try to. It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it’s a strength because your asking to be better and help to get there. Everyone deserves the right to be happy and healthy.
- Feng-shui your area of living, resting and sleeping
- This may be a personal one, but a clean environment and sanitized or purified air is always going to ensure a better chance of healing. Check out my post on Salt-Therapy here.
- A clean environment also ensures a clean mind and can minimise the stress, gives you space to breath properly, meditate and relax. The sight of chaos for me, doesn’t help me relax. You can also ask someone to help you clean everything up if you can’t do it yourself.
- Something that gets me completely relaxed is the right scent (use a aromatherapy diffuser with Eucalyptus, Frankincense, or Lavender oil) and right ambience. Soft, glowing lights at night always helps calm the mind and those specific aromatherapy oils purify the air and are anti-bacterial.
The most simple things can bring relief and happiness 😉
I’d love to hear from others, what you do to help your own situation. We can come together to inspire and help each other.