Ian Venamore, father and grandfather who lives with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) shares his personal experience and tips from 15 years of living with COPD and exacerbations.
- Knowing your body well is a critical step in managing symptoms and recovery. I rate this as one of the most important skills any patient can develop. No one will ever know your body and its responses as well as you. Unfortunately it is usually a skill born of past experience, but most of us have an innate self-awareness which we can build on.
- Take action if your symptoms persist beyond expectation or you suffer an adverse reaction to medication – contact your doctor immediately. Take note of changes no matter how subtle they are for later reference.
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, and get plenty of rest. Just breathing with a COPD exacerbation can be physically exhausting. Stay inside unless the weather is ideal.
- Start or resume breathing exercises as soon as possible.
- Resume other exercise as soon as you feel able to. This could be as simple as a walk inside the house or even stretch exercises in bed. Anything which moves your body is good for you. These become the base on which to build improved exercise capacity over time.
- Ask your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation. If you have attended previously, repeating the course can be a great way to rebuild your capacity and confidence in a safe and controlled environment. If you have completed pulmonary rehabilitation, Lung Foundation Australia’s Lungs in Action exercise-maintenance classes are a great option. Find out more at lungfoundation.com.au/lungs-in-action-program
- Set simple goals for your breathing and other exercise however small, at a time when you are at your best, usually in the morning. Try to establish this as a habit. Look to increase or extend your exercise goals over time, you may be surprised at your capability.
- Do not be too hard on yourself. Many of us are chronic over achievers when it comes to our expectations. If you cannot meet your expected goal at the time, simply ask yourself if you could have done more. If your honest answer is no, then dismiss any other thoughts. COPD is a day-to-day proposition. Tomorrow is another day.
- Share your goals, feelings and fears with someone such as your significant other, friend or carer whom you trust. They will become your sounding board, willing to call you out if necessary, and support you along the way.