Signs that led to my COPD diagnosis were slow and progressive. Often the problem with the most debilitating diseases is that everything is fine, until it’s not. And, when it is not, it is usually life threatening. COPD affects mainly your lungs can also have an impact on your heart and cardiovascular system. It took me a full 10 years to come to terms and get a diagnosis. The main culprit of COPD is smoking but it can also be caused by #pollution, #poor management of #asthma, past episodes of #pneumonia or even #genetics.
The Signs of COPD Had Began
I was a walker all my life but that day when I could not walk around the block to get my car, I knew I was in trouble. It was a slow and progressive sign of the decline of lung function. If you asked me, this was the first sign that something might be going on with my lungs. The problem was that instead of quitting what caused it; smoking, I quit walking!
The Signs of COPD Progressed
As time went on it was clear that something was going on with my lungs. The glaring, slow and progressive signs were there. Still a smoker, I tried to put it out of my mind and not dwell on it too much. I see this as another big mistake. I did not do one google search or ask one doctor about what was happening.
It was about this time that I started to bring up secretions of phlegm that varied in colour from clear to brown. My constant companion was a box of Kleenex and finding a chair to sit on. Having survived 2 bouts of pneumonia and 2 bouts of pleurisy over a 7 year period, I was getting to be quite the master handling being sick. Neither of these were easy to manage and I was told by my doctor that quitting smoking was the key. I choose not to listen.
Six Months Before My Diagnosis of COPD
The kind of tired I felt could only be compared to when I was pregnant. This was a less talked about sign that showed the progression of COPD. I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open for a full day. Working part-time, I began having naps most afternoons, sleeping from 1 pm through to 5 o’clock and having no problem going back to bed at 11:00 and sleeping right through to the next morning.
My shortness of breath was noticeably increased but I found clever ways of hiding it. I would take opportunities to sit and rest to get to my classroom and I wouldn’t talk while I was walking. When presenting lecture’s to students, I would ask them questions so I had an opportunity to catch my breath.
The Diagnosis of COPD
By October of 2015, I had been diagnoses with COPD and on the day of that diagnosis I had my last cigarette. My new mantra was diet and exercise and taking care of me. Going to the mail box every day was my first task and I did it faithfully. It almost killed me and by the time I got back home I was gasping for air. Not knowing anything about COPD, I just figured I could push myself into action and the task would become easier. At that time I knew nothing about pacing and pursed lips breathing.
And, Then It Happened
Having just finished a two-week vacation, I was feeling pretty good. Although I slept much of my vacation away, it was so worth it. Getting back into the normal grind for the first week of January was busy but being busy suited me as full days made me happy.
Then, suddenly I was so short of breath that I could not complete a full sentence. Not being able to get any breath in, I was sure I was going to die right then and there. Every day I thank God that my son and daughter were there with me. Loosing consciousness, I woke up a week later in ICU, after being intubated and on supplemental oxygen.
My journey was about to begin…..I had suffered my first Sudden Cardiac Arrest. I would spend 21 days in ICU and another week on the ward before being released to a Pulmonary doctor and home care with oxygen 24/7. This would be repeated in another 5 months when I have a second arrest with not known cause.
In conclusion the signs and symptom so COPD are slow and progressive and should never be ignored. If you know someone who is showing these signs, please urge them to have a frank talk to their doctor or medical care provider because early intervention is the key to living a longer fuller life with COPD.
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