Ten Steps – Ten Weeks
I bought this book after seeing a very small review of it on another blog and it has been well worth the money I paid for it. It can be bought through Ebay for around £11.
The author states –
The COPD Solution is a comprehensive, 10 step program for managing life with chronic lung disease. It bridges the gap between merely surviving, or just getting through each day and completely thriving. its about treating, educating and implementing life saving modifications for anyone suffering with COPD. Dawn also says, that when you hear the rest of Linda’s story you will cry tears of your own and maybe, for the first time you will feel hope for yourself or your loved one.
The first thing I will do before starting any of the program is the 6 min walk test and I will post the results in the section Exercising and COPD, it gives you a base measurement to go by. I will try to do a video as well so when I have finished the course I can compare videos with progress that I have made. I will measure a 75 feet circle or length in my room (as described in the book) and walk as far as I can do without stopping and at the end of the 6 mins measure how far I have actually managed to walk in the 6 mins taking the stops into account. Its very similar to the way I have been doing my cycling which I started at the beginning of January. I did 15 mins cycling. At first it took me about 30 mins to do 15 mins cycling I was so breathless and just before I had to stop because I was ill, I was managing 15 mins in less than 20 mins.So I was slowly improving.
The book covers food that makes it more difficult to breath, so you will be taught what and what not to eat. How to become stronger, you will learn about your oxygen and about using energy. You will learn about your muscles and how your body uses oxygen and how to properly breath, how you got this disease and what has happened inside your lungs so you can better understand what your struggle is and how to cough the right way to bring up the mucus and how to take your meds properly so they will be more effective.
Dawn Fielding explained to Linda that by carrying out her program she would expect her to dramatically improve on her present performance. Lets see if I do! I need my breath for singing. After reading this book would I recommend it? Yes I would indeed it was worth every penny, they should give it out on the NHS! The following is a run down on the books’ contents, what are you getting for your money?
At the rear of the book you will find a lot of trackers and organisers that you can photocopy and fill in to help you organise certain aspects of your COPD. A good idea if you like writing things down.
Step One – Coming to Terms with COPD
Step one of the 10-week plan is Making Peace with COPD, I have mentioned this myself at length in the section Coming to Terms with Your Diagnosis. Before I could move forward and make any sense of this illness I had to come to terms with what I had, how bad it was and really look the dragon in the face. Many different emotions are felt at this point the main one is grief, the loss of something but you are not alone these feelings are common among many people with life changing illnesses. What helped me was reaching out for help, meeting people who were in the same boat as myself, joining support groups etc. The author explains this step very well and talks about fear, depression and anxiety also. Well, it looks like I have worked through this step without any help from the book already, so I can move on to the next step.
Step Two – Oxygen Therapy
Step two is oxygen therapy. In the USA a lot of people are on oxygen therapy, they use it a great deal more than we do in Great Britain, we do get given it eventually but our specialists tend to wait and see if you pick up on your own after pulmonary rehab. As long as your 02 stats are above 90 or so when resting they are happy. You can get dependent on oxygen, when I am in hospital and recovering from a bad chest infection I need some supplemental oxygen and its surprising how quickly you become dependent on it. They then wean me off it as soon as they can and usually when I go home my oxygen sats are at 94 and rise to 97 after a short time. However, when oxygen is really needed it is vital to use it because your main organs can be affected by lack of oxygen, such as your heart! It’s a very good section that she has written on oxygen and covers all the delivery methods and sleep apnea also.
Step Three – The 3p’s Patience, Pacing and Persistence your 3 Best Friends
The next step is about breathing exercises and ways to breath to help you recover quicker. Its a great chapter. She starts by explaining that your stress levels directly impact your lung disease and your ability to breath. This is called the cycle of dyspnea, referred to as the COPD Downward Spiral. When you struggle to breath, your stress levels naturally increase, which makes it more difficult to breath and repeat, repeat, if you get the jist of it. She explains controlled breathing techniques which I do at times and I have done a section on some of this already. Controlled breathing actually releases endorphins in your body, dilating blood vessels and increasing blood supply to the tissues, lowering, heart rate and blood pressure. Controlled breathing is pursed lip breathing which I use a lot, belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) and positioning. The belly breathing is practiced during singing so that is why singing is so good for you. Its the only way I can do the diaphragmatic breathing properly. You need to practice these things on a daily basis. These are some sections on my blog that cover breathing …. Breathing, Breathing and Exercise, Breathing 4. I practice these different types of breathing all the time, my sons always complaining, ‘do you have to make that noise’, I just ignore him and get on with it.
Step Four – Conserve your Energy
I have covered this already on my blog a number of times and it is important to pace yourself and it is also important to relax and meditate. The following links have all got within them ideas for conserving your energy and getting the most out of each day –
Making the most of every day
COPD, how to claw some of your life back
If you want the rainbow you have to put up with the rain
The spoon theory
The author of the book has some great ideas and advice so it’s well worth reading this section.
Step Five – Prevent Flare-Ups: Use Your Meds Effectively
This is another useful chapter, it is very important to use your meds effectively. It is very complex and there are so many medications that I really do not cover this on my blog because I am not a medical person. I learnt a few things when I read this chapter one was the existence of another medication that I knew nothing about. However, it doesn’t come without a number of possible side effects. It is called Daliresp and this is the brand name for the prescription drug, roflumilast, which is a phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor used in cases of severe COPD to reduce the number of exacerbations.
Dawn also explains about the importance of having peak flow readings daily. I know this is important for spotting when an exacerbation is on its way but I hate doing these peak flows. At the rear of the book you will find an appendix which contains lots of different forms for you to use especially tracking charts. These can be photocopied and used to help you plot your peak flow readings. There are a lot of forms which are referred to in this chapter such as your COPD Action Plan and I am sure that I will use a lot of these forms.
Step Six – Pulmonary Rehab
Pulmonary Rehab is described as the key to the COPD solution
The author uses inspiring quotes at the start of each chapter which I like and this is the one for this particular chapter which I find very motivating –
When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs, and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self loving. (Kim McMillen)
This chapter is very important in the book because from experience and also from many other peoples’ experience, exercise is the key to regaining a chunk of your mobility back. I like the quote because although exercise is one of the main things you can do to improve your life it is also very hard. The author states that Pulmonary Rehab is designed to –
“support your circle of therapies, to help slow the progression of your lung disease, improve your daily life and decrease your symptoms, ask your doctor for a referral to Pulmonary Rehab…Pulmonary rehab is designed to improve your physical, emotional and psychological health.”
The Anxiety/Dyspnea Deconditioning Cycle
In plain English this means that when you are very out of breath you can become anxious and in this situation you will refrain from carrying on with whatever you were doing when this happened. It could be perhaps just walking to the door, going downstairs for a cup of tea on an evening or maybe just hanging the washing out. When this happens and you stop doing these things you become more breathless as you are less fit. I think this can happen particularly after an exacerbation or a stay in hospital, that is why you feel that you never quite get back to your pre exacerbation state. You are mainly just out of condition due to being sat about for a couple of weeks waiting for the exacerbation to pass. That is why pulmonary rehab is so important it gets you fitter and more able to use the oxygen that you are breathing in more efficiently. Toned muscles use less oxygen.
A pulmonary rehab course covers a few things including exercise, half of the class usually has feature speakers talking about medication, lifestyle, breathing techniques and more. Physical reconditioning is very important, did you know that a 2 week exacerbation is all it takes to wipe out loads of your physical fitness? The strength and tone it took a week to gain will be lost in 2 days! PR is also a chance to chat with other people who have the same illness as you. I will be reading this chapter over and over again because it is something I want to do but have also found very difficult.You have to realise that it is OK to get out of breath, the more exercise you do the more you will be able to do without getting so very short of breath. You can also read quite a few posts on my blog about P and exercise –
As stated previously this chapter is very important and I shall be revisiting it regularly.
Step Seven – Quit Smoking
I am not altogether sure that this should be step seven because of its importance with this disease and the benefits attached to stopping this habit are very high. I would have put this step as 2 or 3. In the section of my blog called ‘my stopping smoking saga‘, I explained how difficult I found this to be, you are struggling with two things really the fact that you want to quit for your health and money of course; but also I was struggling with the fact that I was going to gain weight and that is also unhealthy. Its like the devil and the deep blue sea in a way. So, I tried to minimize the weight gain as much as possible!
The addiction of nicotine and all the other chemicals that they put in cigarettes is no joke, I found the following piece very helpful to read it really explains about the addition.
Nicotine Addiction 101 – Best piece I Have Read On Nicotine Dependency!
Step Eight – Choose Foods for better breathing
Having enough food to eat of the good kind is very important as people with COPD require more nutrients and tend to be malnourished even the fat ones, like me! She explains the cycle of malnutrition very well and to be honest its not something I have thought about until now! Like everyone else you think that if you are overweight you are ok nutrition wise NOT TRUE! I think this is a great chapter and I will enjoy reading this one and researching nutrients.Apparently not getting enough vital nutrients adds to the deconditioning (loss of your overall physical fitness). I know I do not get enough of some nutrients because of my diet, I am almost vegan. Because of this it might be a good idea to take a supplement as you need to feed your muscles to keep up their strength. This is a fascinating chapter and well worth the cost of the book for this chapter alone. Another chapter that I will be visiting again.
One interesting thing that the author points out is the subject of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). If you consume a lot of carbonated sugary drinks, such as coke and sugary foods you can after a short while find yourself more breathless. And this has definitely happened to me but I did not know at the time why it had happened. The point is when sugars are metabolised they break down to form excess CO2. The only place that this can be done efficiently is with your breathing, you end up breathing the CO2 back to normal levels, this is a natural response for your body in this situation. This is not good for people with COPD because it puts your respiratory rate up making it harder to breath. A much better explanation of this is on page 215 of the book. Sugary foods can have the same effect so say no to sugar!
This section also stresses the importance of not being too overweight because unnecessary weight can make it more difficult to breath. Belly weight of which I have loads, can hinder the ability of your diaphragm to descend lessening the space your lungs have for expansion. So, I am in trouble from the top and the bottom. The top where my emphysema is and the bottom where my fat is!
Step Nine – Try Yoga
As a young woman I did a lot of Yoga and I must admit I will enjoy taking this up again on my own. There are lots of videos on YouTube that you can watch. I enjoy Yoga because it focuses more on breathing and holding various poses. It is not an aerobic type of exercise but when I first started to do Yoga when I was about 16 I can remember losing half a stone very quickly.
Step Ten – Stay Connected – Take Charge of Your Life!
It is very easy to become out of touch when your COPD progresses, I have included a piece on this in my blog, this is the link – Loneliness and Isolation. It is so easy to become housebound and there is no need. It is all about maintaining your relationships and friendships, communicating and staying connected to others. You might say this is easier said than done! But with all the equipment we have these days, phones, laptops, tablets you don’t need to leave home to have company. Staying connected with your friends can be very difficult because many just cannot deal with their friend having this disease. I have had to make some new friends and most of my new friends have COPD themselves.
There are many groups on facebook where you can meet hundreds of people who have COPD and are in the same boat as you are. Going to church is another method of meeting people and becoming involved with your community. At the PR group you will also meet more people and have a chat over a cup of tea and biscuits. My local hospice also has a lot of different courses that they run such as pilates and art class, give yours a call and see if there is anything that would suit you.