Tag Archives: COPD

My New Normal

Ring of Kerry_Atlantic

Lately, I’ve been dealing with what I’m calling my New Normal.  And, as with so many other things, there are several phases to go through to get to the acceptance level of my New Normal.  And I’m not really sure I’m there yet.

My New Normal life includes things like COPD, asthma, arthritis in both knees and moving up to my shoulders, a sciatic hip, and now, I have issues with my wrist from using the computer mouse wrong.  (Insert heavy sigh here.)  I’ve been dealing with the asthma for about 25 years, or so I thought.  Seems I was diagnosed with it when I was 12, but my Mom and my Doctor decided it wasn’t something I needed to know cause it was “low grade” asthma and it wasn’t really giving me much trouble.  I now understand why my Doctor would always tell me, “You know that stuff you had before?  Well, you’ve got it again.”  when I’d go in because I wasn’t feeling very well and was a little short of breath.  Was not pleased to learn this. It means I have had asthma for 48 years, give or take.  Oh, yea.

My arthritis is the result of “if I’d known I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself…”  Too many twisted, popped, tweaked knee injuries over the course of my life.  I always was an accident looking for a place to happen.  But I can deal with the arthritis, as long as the barometer isn’t falling, or already in the cellar, then I have issues.  The sciatica, though, is another story completely.  I have yet to figure out what sets that off.  I can go for weeks before it flares up.  Then I can hardly walk.  Sometimes even sitting is difficult.  The same goes for my wrist.  Fortunately, when it starts up, if I just take a few minutes and let my arm hang down for a bit, everything goes away and I can go back to work.  Oh well…

The one I’m having the hardest time with is the COPD.  I’m having a real hard time dealing with the prospect of being on oxygen 24/7 for The Rest Of My Life.  I get so angry and frustrated with the stupid tanks.  I keep trying to stay off it, but I always have to give in and put the stupid nose hose on and breath the oxygen.  Oh, and I get a lot of “How long did you smoke?” remarks.  I have NEVER smoked.  The only thing I can think of is that when I was born, my lungs and sinuses were filled with mucus and not functioning very well, the Doctors put me in an oxygen tent for a week.  PURE oxygen.  For a week.  So many things get explained by that.  None of this stuff is due to anything I did.  It isn’t my fault, but I get to deal with it.  I know that having hernia surgery with the anesthesia that they used, so I wouldn’t have any problems, added to the crap with my lungs.  It was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I suppose, eventually, I would have ended up on oxygen, but before I hit 60 kind of sucked.

I still try to get away with not using the oxygen all the time, like I should, and then rush to put it on when I get winded.  So, like I said, not quite at the accepted level, still at the frustration level.  Still pretty unhappy and feeling that it’s just not fair.  But there’s a small, little voice that creeps in from time to time to remind me that the option is far less acceptable.

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Well, when did this happen?

time

Yesterday, My Mom, Sister and a family friend and I went garage saling.  Before we got started, we went to McDonald’s for a quick breakfast.  When Cindy was ordering, I realized that she ordered a Senior Coffee for me.  When did I become “a Senior”?  And do I really want to be one?  It’s not that I mind taking advantage of all the benefits that come with being “a Senior”, I’m just not sure I’m ready to admit that I am one.  I certainly don’t feel like it.  Except on days like today, when the barometer is in the basement and ankles hurt and knees hurt and shoulders hurt and back hurts.  For a change, the only thing that hasn’t hurt today is my sciatic hip.

Okay, so I’m now on oxygen 24/7, darn asthma and COPD, (and no, I have never smoked, just bad lungs, badly cared for when I was growing up.), I have trouble walking long distances, thanks arthritis, my right shoulder is now starting to give me grief, I find the occasional silver strand of hair from time to time and sleep and I have not agreed on sleep times for quite awhile.  There, that is my list of complaints.  There are a few more things, but they’re little and only bother me on  rare occasions.

So, here’s the thing, I still FEEL like I’m in my forties or fifties.  I know, age is a matter of mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.  And most of the time, I could care less how old I am.  Sometimes, though, I feel old.  Today is one of those days.  Low barometer, wind, and heat – 76 degrees today, March 6th.  76 degrees.  In March.  It’s a little scary.  I don’t do well in heat.  I’ve had 2 “episodes” of heat sickness and the last put me in the hospital.  So there’s another thing that doesn’t work so well any more – my internal thermostat is shot to pieces.

Still, I guess I’m really not too upset about the Senior thing.  I just don’t know exactly when it happened.  And why…

SIGH…

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I find myself at the begins of S.A.D.  (Seasonal Affective Disorder)  I was hoping, because everything has been going so well, that I could delay it’s onset, but not so.  In truth, it’s a little early this year, not yet fall.  But that’s as may be.  So, let’s play catch-up.

My Cardiac CT, that my personal Doctor insisted on, went really well.  In fact, the cardiologist used words like wonderful and superb and terrific.  He said all sorts of wonderful things about my heart and the surrounding blood veins, arteries and vessels.  He said there was no sign at all of a heart attack, no signs of any blockages and very minimal plaque.  He said he hadn’t seen a heart in as good a shape as mine, for someone my age, in a long time.  Woo Hoo!  So I celebrated by getting my hair done, a perm and a cut.  (Looks pretty good.)

Now, while all this was going on, we were dealing with smoke from the fires all the way over in California and Oregon.  Also, in the part of Southeastern Colorado that I live in, we were having dust storms.  We had one so bad that it closed the hiways between our town and the border both to the south and to the east.  When you have asthma and COPD, both of those events are not good.  So, after a few days of extra oxygen and allergy eyes, I went to my ophthalmologist for my annual eye exam.  She was new, my older eye doctor having retired at the first of the year.  But I really liked her.  Even if I wasn’t thrilled with her diagnoses.    My eyes, never very good anyway, have gotten to the point that my glasses can only partially correct my vision.  Can’t get it to 20/20 anymore.  I told her so long as it can be corrected so that I can continue to work, I will deal with it.  She smiled and said that not being able to see well enough to do things was a long way off still.  Okay, so I can deal with.  Heck, for most of, if not all of, my life, I’ve been told that I would probably be blind by 60, so no big thing.  (By the way in 4 months I will be 60.)

So, while things are going well, physically, my mental issues are returning.  I’m glad its only seasonal.  Though I’d prefer not to have to deal with them at all.  Even though I still have small bouts through out the year, too many grey rainy days, etc., my worst days are when winter hits.  Last year wasn’t too bad, but with predictions of a cold, wet, El Nino winter, I’m not looking forward to winter…  oh well.  Sigh

A New World Order

Dbl Rainbow

These last two weeks have left me shaken a bit.  I got sick.  REALLY sick.  I was so sick that when my Doctor saw me, the first thing he said was, “Don’t really want another hospital patient, but I will just have to deal with it.”  I asked if I had a choice and he said, “sure, you can go to the hospital, or you can go home and wait to die.”  That’s when I started thinking that maybe I was sicker than I thought.  And I was.

I ran very high fever for several days, had a bacterial infection and fluid build up in my lungs (my lungs were functional at less than 85%), a sinus infection, two ear infections and an UTI.

For the first two or two and a half days, I really didn’t care what was going on.  Once they got the temp down, and reality started to set back in, I realized something that every one else around me had already picked up on.  I have severe asthma complicated by COPD.  Any little infection that I get can cause me a great deal of harm.

That’s a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around.  I have to worry about even the common cold now.  Never use to.  And I’m on oxygen, 24/7 for the rest of my life.  That’s the hardest one to deal with.  I’m not even 60 yet, and I’m on oxygen.  For the rest of my life.  Does not make me happy.

However, after these last two weeks, I will learn to deal with it.

And I am still waiting to be released back to work.  Maybe tomorrow…