I spent several months carrying a nebulizer machine with me wherever I went. I was taking 2 different nebulizer treatments 4 times a day in addition to the many inhalers. I carried the machine to work with me, going to isolated places to take my treatments because I was embarrassed. I had to take that thing with me everywhere, even the family vacation. It had become my traveling companion. You do what you have to do, to keep breathing.
The reason I’m doing this is to tell you what I’m doing to keep breathing and how this journey has helped me with my COPD.
I thought I had always led a fairly active lifestyle with working a full time job and taking care of things around the house. I soon found out, I needed to do much more to be healthy. My husband and I joined the gym and started trying to run. Naturally my overachiever husband took right off but I could only manage to run about a tenth of a mile before having to walk and catch my breath. We became friends with an awesome group of runners in our community that are very supportive and encouraging. I still would continue to run by myself, not wanting to slow anyone down and I was self-conscious about how loud I seemed to breathe. I finally got up the courage to do a 5K in 2013. I finished last at around 47 minutes but, I FINISHED!!! So I kept going out… alone, determined to be better. It was working, I was slowly getting better and running longer. I’ll never forget the day I ran a half mile before having to walk.
I was SO excited!! I came home and told my husband that “one day” I would love to be able to run walk a half marathon. Well, I learned a lesson that day because the next day he says, you better start training because you’re signed up for a half marathon at the end of the year. So in December of 2014, I completed my very first half marathon and finished in under 3 hours. I felt so accomplished!! As a matter of fact, I felt so good I began to wonder how could I have this awful disease. Surely it was a misdiagnosis, surely it was just an asthma flare up. So I requested to be retested. Early in 2015 I had yet another Full Loop PFT and I was devastated all over again! The diagnosis came back the same (COPD/Asthma). I will say, the encouragement of my husband and #1 cheerleader as well as awesome friends in our running community, I am continually improving the function of my lungs by running. March 2015 I entered a 12 hr. endurance run and completed a 50K distance. I have also entered and completed several other 5,10 and 15K races and have even placed in my age group in a couple. My most recent 5K time was under 34 minutes and my December 2015 half marathon was 2hrs. 37 min. Both greatly improved times. All due to me continually exercising my lungs on a regular basis paired with eating healthy and staying on top of my medication. The beginning of 2016, I have challenged myself to run at least 1 mile a day. I can happily say, I have not yet missed a day and I am confident this has improved my breathing. I look at running as another daily medication I must take to keep on top of this disease. This year my goal is to complete 4 to 5half marathons and PR at least one of them, run another 12 hr. endurance run along with countless 5Ks.
Am I still in denial? Maybe a little. Am I determined to show this disease who’s boss? ABSOLUTELY!!
I encourage you, whatever the stage to take a baby step of any kind to improve. Don’t give up. You CAN hold this disease off. I know I have!
I forgot to mention. Although I was diagnosed with COPD in 2011, I didn’t learn of the diagnosis until 2014. 2 weeks before I was to do my first half marathon. This may sound crazy but I feel blessed I didn’t know of this diagnosis in 2011 I probably would have never attempted to start running.
I feel healthier than I have ever felt in my life and I have no doubt my lungs are stronger now than ever before.
Stay strong and exercise regularly!!!