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Birth’s, Marriage’s and Death’s

I have been dealing with all manner of emotions lately.

I’m not good with writing about this stuff anymore than I am dealing with it. What they all have in common is that they bring people together and that is partly the problem with me. I can’t even manage that.

The morning of my “real” birthday 29th February we got the stunning news that our nephew had died. He was only 26 and just starting out in what looked like an amazing life with his partner of 8 years. Last summer he found a lump in his testicle and immediately saw his GP. Within the week it had been removed and it was shown to be malignant. He had further tests and a few months later they found it had grown some more and decided to treat it with chemotherapy. They told him that he had a 99% chance of survival.

After his second course of treatment he started to complain of heartburn and that morning he stood up to reach for something from his bed and dropped down dead. He fell face down between the bedside table and the bed and his partner couldn’t even turn him over as he was wedged in. In any event he was dead from a heart attack. As with any young death it hits very hard and I don’t think our family will ever be the same again. They gave him a wonderful funeral. A celebration of his life. I would have loved to have been there but I decided that it could not be. People need space to grieve and I would have been in the way. Also I would have been weeping and that is never good when you are on oxygen therapy. A bunged up nose is no use at all and the whole thing can trigger a panic attack so I stayed away.

On a much happier note I was made a Grandma again. Jacob Alex came rushing into the world within 20mins of arriving at the hospital and was home in time for tea and a cuddle of his big sister Lola. I got to hold him the following Saturday which wasn’t too bad. I was very grateful that I was well enough to travel otherwise it might have been sometime before I saw my Grandson.

A week later and we had a wedding to go to. My friends daughter was tying the knot at a city church and afterwards in rooms upstairs opposite the castle. I had more or less decided because of the inclement weather of late that I would miss the church but would go to the reception. Unfortunately after talking with her it soon became apparent that there was no way I could go. There was no lift and no disabled toilet. So that was that. Another get together I have had to miss out on. I hate to moan or dwell on stuff I can’t change but I think it’s hard for others to realise just how isolated a disabled person feels and how lonely it can get.

With this in mind my thoughts have been turning towards getting a little companion. I have ruled out a dog as I consider them as children who never grow up. I can’t exercise or groom a dog so a cat seems the ideal choice. We used to have a Siamese cat who lived to be 17 and was loved dearly and then we got a rescue cat who didn’t last 5 years. It’s been 2 years now since she died and we are ready for another bundle of fluff to invade us. I have been looking at different breeds and the “Bengal” is the one I have chosen. Their coats are stunning and they appear to have lovely temperaments. So it happened that Sunday afternoon we took a ride out to visit a cattery that breed them and had a wonderful time petting the kittens and talking to the breeder about them. We have decided that we will wait for the next litter and then pick one, hopefully ready to take home by the Autumn. Watch this space 😉

We are born we live and then we die…natures way….take care 😉



Dealing with Panic/Anxiety with SOB

I found this today and thought it was excellent. I did not write this…

A lot of COPD’ers suffer from anxiety attacks and quite a few of us are on anti-anxiety meds. This anxiety causes us to react somewhat like people with agoraphobia. We have a fear of being somewhere or with someone and having an SOB (Shortness of Breath) attack and we will be unable to recover without embarressing ourselves. We finally reach a point where we feel it’s a lot easier to stay home, rather than chance an anxiety attack. This is something that we all have to consciously avoid.

I am also including a write-up on breathing that may help you when you do become SOB.

“The following are my thoughts on the importance of addressing the breathing techniques of those of us who have COPD. This aspect of our treatment is, unfortunately and sadly, highly neglected by our medical community. It deals in general terms and not all aspects of it will apply to all COPD’ers, as we are all different. I have tried to keep it simple, yet provide some of my insights, (Right or wrong!) into our breathing distresses.

For “normal people”, breathing is as easy as inhaling and exhaling, without consciously giving their breathing any thought at all. For the vast majority of us with COPD, breathing can sometimes be an adventure, and for some of us, most of the time it is an adventure. It is my belief, that anyone who deals in the care of COPD’ers in their later stages should try a little experiment as suggested by Dr. Rick Hodder, a noted Canadian respirologist, in his book, “Every Breath I Take – A guide to living with COPD”. Quote: “Take in a deep breath but don’t exhale. Take in another and another. You’re hyper inflated. Hold it! Now run upstairs. You’ll soon appreciate what it feels like to have COPD or asthma.”

We as COPD’ers have to deal with our breathing on so many levels:

(1). The psychology of breathing – How stress and anxiety affect our breathing.
(2). Dealing with Shortness of Breath (SOB)
(3). Learning to purse-lip breathe (PLB).
(4). How we breathe. Are we shallow breathers or diaphragm breathers?
(5). Inspiration. (Inhaling)
(6). Learning to exhale properly.
(7). Learning to relax our auxiliary breathing muscles
(8). Learning to pace ourselves so we don’t become (SOB).
(9).The importance of proper nutrition and proper exercise in combating SOB
(10). Pulmonary Rehab

Anxiety – Why do we become short of breath? In a nutshell and very simplified, in most of us COPD’ers, our DLCO or diffusion rate is compromised so that our lungs are no longer able to efficiently exchange O2 and CO2. The O2 in our blood may drop and the CO2 level increases. Our brain signals our lungs and heart to speed up and try to get our level back in balance. We then become short winded. Then anxiety kicks in. When we become anxious, our body releases adrenaline which causes our heart to beat even faster. The brain then tells the lungs that the heart is working harder and needs more oxygen. So we start to breathe faster and harder. The brain then tells the heart that the lungs need more blood to process, and so the heart starts to beat faster again. And so on, and so on, until we are uncontrollably Short Of Breath. We are then hyperventilating, breathing too fast and too shallow.

Pursed-Lip Breathing – What is Pursed Lip Breathing (PLB)? PLB is the first line of defense used by most COPD’ers when trying to recover from shortness of breath. It involves breathing in through the nose and exhaling with the lips pursed as if you were going to whistle. How hard do you blow out? I find that blowing out with the same force that you would use to cool hot soup on a spoon to be the perfect force. Blow hard enough to cool it but not hard enough to blow it off the spoon. Many sites advocate blow like you were blowing out a candle, but I find that if I simulate blowing out a candle, I tend to puff, instead of a slow exhale and I tend to exhale with too much force and find it harder to relax. How does PLB help? When we PLB properly we create a back pressure in the mouth and throat and this back pressure actually blows the airways open. Now that we can breathe in easier we have to concentrate and breathe out for at least 4 seconds or longer if possible. This helps expel CO2 and trapped air and we begin to breathe easier yet. I have been trying something for the last month or so that helps me. It may not help everybody. After I exhale for four seconds or more, I pause and let the body inhale naturally. The reason I pause is two-fold. First of all, it tells me that I am regaining control of my breathing, which allows me to relax easier and secondly, I find that if I consciously try to inhale right away, I will invariably gasp. When I inhale naturally, I make sure I do not try to “top off” the air already in my lungs. “Topping-off” is when we inhale once and then inhale again before we exhale. This will cause you to use your auxiliary breathing muscles in your shoulders and neck. This will in turn cause you to expend more energy and use up more oxygen. Also with the pausing after exhaling, I would suspect that it gives the lungs a little more time to exchange gases, (CO & CO2). Now that we are breathing rather easily, the anxiety subsides and all is well in our wonderful little worlds. Practicing these techniques is very important so as to be completely trained on how to recover from being Short Of Breath.

Diaphragm Breathing – Your diaphragm is a large muscle separating your lungs from your abdomen. Your diaphragm can work hard and never get tired. Some people breathe using their chest muscles instead of their diaphragm. This takes extra effort and can cause fatigue and tension. Test yourself to see whether you breathe correctly through your diaphragm:

1. Sit upright and relax your shoulders
2. Rest one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach
3. Breathe in deeply through your nose and pay attention to the movement of your hands.

If you use your diaphragm to breathe, the hand on your stomach will move. If you use your chest muscles to breathe, the hand on your chest will move. Try both ways of breathing and feel the difference. If you are a chest breather, practice diaphragmatic breathing for a few moments several times a day, and soon it will become automatic. If your neck and shoulder muscles are constantly sore after a bout of SOB, then you are a chest breather and you have to learn to diaphragm breathe.

I can’t begin to tell you the difference that diaphragm breathing has made in my life. I don’t know when it started but I became a shallow breather (chest breather), not using my diaphragm. About eleven months ago I was having a very hard time, being continually SOB. If I went upstairs to the washroom, even using PLB, it would sometimes take me ½ hour to get my breath back. To make a long story short, I learned how to diaphragm breathe and my life turned around 180 degrees! When I go upstairs now I am winded when I reach the top as opposed to severely SOB.

I now know that my last hospital stay for respiratory failure was due mostly from being a shallow breather. I was cleaning out my shed, and because of my low FEV1 (10%) and low DLCO (19%), I would work for 30-40 seconds and then I would have to sit and catch my breath. I would PLB and huff and puff for 3-5 minutes in order to catch my breath. After doing this for a couple of days, 2 or 3 hours a day, I eventually exhausted my breathing muscles to the point that they were not functioning properly and not able to rid my body of CO2. Eventually this caused respiratory acidosis (lowering of blood pH) which led to a very severe exacerbation and respiratory failure. Now that I know how to diaphragm breathe, hopefully, this will never happen again! My next exacerbation will be infection induced! Probably the most aggravating thing to me through all of this, is that I suffered undue breathing hardship for a long, long time because nowhere down the line was my method of breathing ever checked and corrected! I did a lot more panting and sucking for air than I ever had to! Every COPD’er should be individually checked for proper breathing techniques.

Exhaling – A tremendously neglected part of therapy by our medical community! Our problem as COPD’ers is not getting good air (O2) in, it’s getting bad air (CO2) out. Extending our exhale time helps us on two fronts. First of all, it gives our lungs a much better chance of ridding our bodies of CO2. Secondly, I believe extended exhaling is the main reason that I have been exacerbation free for the last 1 ½ years. I realize the immune system helps, but I was getting pneumonia, probably every three months before I learned to breathe and exhale properly. The more stale air you exhale, the more fresh air you can inhale, which gets deeper into the lungs and does not give all the little creepy crawlies a moist, damp environment in which to multiply. Extending our breathing time is not easy because it goes against what our mind is telling us. Our body is telling us to get rid of CO2, but our mind is telling us we need more O2. It’s listening to our mind that causes us to hyperventilate as we gulp for air. The nature of PLB causes us to slow down our exhale as well as opening our airways, but it also restricts the amount of air we can exhale. After 4 or 5 PLB’s we can actually exhale normally. So we should exhale for 4 seconds and then let our lungs refill naturally. That is, do not consciously inhale. I find if I consciously inhale I invariably want to top off my lungs, which increases my O2 input and that is counter-productive. When I was learning to PLB, they all said to breathe in through your nose, although nobody had a definitive answer as to why. Everybody said for added moisture or infection control. I finally found an acceptable answer for myself a few months back. I noticed that when we inhale through our nose, it is very hard to top off the air in our lungs. If we breathe in through our mouth, the tendency is to “top off” our lungs and that is not what we want when we are SOB. So if you mouth breathe, be conscious of “topping off” or breathing in too much air.

Eating – Like a number of COPD’ers, I have always had a problem when it came to eating. I could never eat too much for two reasons. One, I would become winded and the other, I would always have that feeling of having a tennis ball stuck in my solar plexus if I ate too much. I would then have an uncomfortable sensation in my chest for hours. It would take 4-6 hours for the unpleasantness in my chest to disappear. I could not eat a meal without stopping and trying to regain my breath or stop eating altogether for that meal.

A couple of months ago I sat down to a supper loaded with turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, bread dressing and condiments. I ate the whole thing with no SOB and did not have any bloated feeling!

So, what Happened? What Changed? How I breathe while I eat is what has changed. Up till then, I would breathe in as I put some food in my mouth. I would then hold my breath as I chewed the food. Then I would breathe in again; swallow the food and then exhale. In essence, I was inhaling twice for every exhale and “trapping air”. I started to exhale more while I was eating. Now, as I am chewing my food, I very gently exhale for as long as I comfortably can. That’s it! That’s the only change! I can now eat without stopping because I am too SOB or too tired to continue. As a bonus for me I gained 1½ pounds, which is significant for a man who is 5’8” tall and weighs 99 pounds.

It takes a lot of O2 to digest your food, so please do not lie down right after supper as our breathing rate slows down when we sleep and it’s harder to get O2 in and CO2 out when we sleep. I hate to break the ladies’ hearts, but you should leave the dishes for a few hours, until your meal is digested.

Relaxing – If you exhibit any muscle soreness after a bout of SOB, it is probably because you are either over-breathing or not breathing correctly. With a combination of PLB, diaphragm breathing and exhaling for 4 seconds, you should be able to talk yourself into relaxing all those muscles used to breathe. Something I have used sometimes for the last year or so is to start humming a tune. Myself, I hum to “Amazing Grace”. Humming it right it forces me to extend my exhale, take small inhales and gets my mind off of my SOB and allows me to relax. Relaxation is very important. Pick your own song!

Exertion causes us to be SOB and as COPD’ers we have to learn how to pace ourselves to try and cut down on the episodes of SOB. We also have to exercise regularly to keep our muscles as well toned as possible as well-toned muscles use a lot less O2. Pulmonary rehab is highly recommended for all who have not been there.

As a final note, most of us know how important it is for us to address our breathing problems properly. Unfortunately, the medical community has not seen that need, as yet. We have medicinal therapy, physical therapy, nutritional therapy, but no breathing therapy as such. Somehow we have to reach out to the medical community to see how this can be changed. I presently go to different COPD forums on a regular basis, and it is through these forums that I have developed most of my breathing techniques. Anyone who has COPD should join these forums and learn how to cope with the various aspects of COPD. Many will be surprised how manageable it is.

Hope this helps,


Rehab Starts In Earnest

The day was warm and sunny with a cooling breeze as we motored over for my next morning of Pulmonary Rehab. I was a little fearful that we were slightly late but I needn’t have worried, everyone was there but not properly started.

I was hit by the stench of somebodies perfume and recoiled and had to say something. They quickly moved me next to the open outside door and Jon said that it had even got to the back of his throat. You would have thought folk would have more sense but oh well.

Anil the physio along with Gemma were going along taking everyone’s SAT’s and heart rate and giving them a clipboard and pen with a sheet printed with columns and rows of a list of the mornings exercises. We had to put the date, SAT’s and Heart rate and the number on the Borg scale that we felt regarding how breathless we felt in the first column. As we completed each task we entered at the side of that in the same column the number of repeats we did in the 2 minutes allowed us. Thus we could see at a glance at the end of the six weeks how we had progressed week by week if at all.

Anil explained that it was important that we didn’t go past the severe stage of breathlessness and a good way of telling if we wern’t sure was if we had trouble saying a sentence, e.g. “the cat in the hat came back” lol. If you had to take a breath in between the words then that was above severe and to stop.

That being said they decided to make my first exercise throwing the ball and that so happened to be right by the door where I was sat. lol. Basically I had to throw a soccer ball at the wall and catch it. I was to do as many repetitions in the 2 mins as I liked and to pace myself so I didn’t burn out in the first minutes. Take a breath and throw…catch. Take a breath etc…. Jon got out his camera, I gave Oliver the clipboard and asked him to count and Gemma said go and we were away. Pretty easy that one I got 34 although I was glad when the time was up.

Next up was sits to stands. Not one of my favourites but at least I was getting it over with. I took it very steady. I took a breath in and let it out…stood. Breath in and out sat…etc. I did 5 I was SOB but next time I will try to do a few more.

Next came arm raises at the side (I was told not to use the weights yet) I did a very respectable 22.

On to trunk rotations. Sit with hands on hips and face forward then twist head and body to first one side and then the other. 37

Then to my least favourite step ups which they very kindly lowered for me. I was allowed to hold onto a chair placed at the side. We were to step and then down with right leg and then the same with the left leg, that way we were assured that each leg got an equal work out. 4

Wall press’s next. Stand facing the wall place hands on wall and lean into wall. Repeat. 25

Marching on the spot 45

Arm curls 23

Bike. Which I missed this time

In the future we would at this point do a walk for up to 10 minutes if able and then break for tea or coffee while we had a talk. However because we had a late start while each exercise was explained to us we left it out.

While we drank a much needed beverage Anil gave us a talk on the facts about our condition which I will cover later.

I have to also say that I look and feel horrible. Years of steroid medication, bad diet and no puff left to brush let alone wash my hair. A year ago I was malnourished now I am just into the over weight category. I was not even this big at full term while pregnant. So be kind to me I am only putting these pics out in the hope they will motivate others and after all, the fact is I am still breathing. 😉


Plus’s & Minus’s

It’s been a strange couple of days.

After tonight I am going to have to keep better hours and get some sleep a lot earlier than I have been doing. It’s nice to have the night to myself and have Jon sleeping beside me. I really do love that, but I don’t like waking and have most of the day over especially now that the days are warm and I could have gone out for a while. Gemma is coming again on Wednesday to do more exercises and on Friday I start Rehab.

I had my hair cut today. Christina my mobile hairdresser came this afternoon. We settled on a Judi Dench type style and it looks and feels better. I won’t feel so much like a fright now when I do go out. I just need to order those tops and I should be good to go.

Toby had a friendly cricket match on Sunday and he got 4 wickets. 3 were in the same over and that was the game finished. He phoned Roger to let him know the good news and he said they will be coming over on Saturday. So it looks like we will be going to the Rempstone Steam Rally with Lola which I am very excited about.

We had one sad piece of news this evening. Karen Watson nee Winder who we knew from our late teens has died. She had, had breast cancer and it had moved to her liver. Shocking, she was only 54.

On a lighter note this Google+ social network is inviting beta testers and I got one. At the moment I feel like Billy no mates as I can’t seem to get anyone else to join yet. Maybe it will reveal it’s joys within in the coming days but for now there is very little there and for someone like myself who is on an iPad I am working on Safari as they have no app for that until Apple allows it.


Pigs & Gigs

Another day when I failed to wake before it was afternoon.

Jon and Toby went into town this morning. They got Percy the pig for Mary and a Tagine. I shall look forward to tasting the delights from that soon. They also got me some more vitamin D tabs which I ran out of a while ago, still waiting to see if I get any benefit from those.

Steph dropped in this afternoon. She and Tom are off to Manchester to see Bjork this eve so they are taking Percy Pig with them. She also sent me a pic of Lola which I love.

This evening was wicked. We watched a set on iTunes by the Smoke Fairies. They were a cross between Cowboy Junkies and Pentagle. Really good. Then it was Seasick Steve and one song Jack White drummed with him. Fantastic.



COPD Home Exercise Programme

Gemma has just been.

I was ready and waiting just like she asked me to be. In fact she was a little late. lol. After a little chit chat we got down to the job in hand. I gave Jon the iPad so he could take some shots of the proceedings and we started off with the first exercise…

Home Exercise Programme

1). Sit to stands – Inhale stand – Exhale sit. Repeat. I managed 4

After the first exercise I was shown a Borg scale and asked how breathless I felt and told to keep my breathing in the moderate to severe scale while exercising.

2). Lateral Arm Raises – arms by the side, lift both arms to shoulder height. Repeat. I managed 10 (I probably could have managed more but she said stick to 10 for today)

3). Biceps curls – with arms in lap bend both elbows to shoulder – repeat Again I just did 10 for today. (I find this one the easiest)

4). Marching on the spot – x 10 today

5). Sit and straighten knee curling foot upwards – x 10 today

6). Wall Press – place hands on wall at shoulder height and lean into wall x 10 ( I only managed 9 today)

7). Step Ups – step up and then down with same leg and repeat with the other. I only managed 5 (this is the hardest one for me)

After I had done that she put the oximeter on my finger and it read 87 but within a minute had returned to my resting rate of 94.

There is also a walk but we left that for this week.

We have scheduled 2 dates for next week. Wednesday and Friday.

Overall I am pleased at how it went. Considering that I get zero exercise at all, I was not too out of breath, as I feared I might. We took it as baby steps so I didn’t get over anxious and I was allowed to rest well in between, so I could give it my all to each individual exercise. I definitely feel better and breathing well for completing this and looking forward to her coming again. In the meantime she wants me coming downstairs daily and moving around a little. That should strengthen me more for when I go to rehab. I also intend to do some of my own exercises in-between her visits.


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