Emphysema Update

A lot has happened since I last wrote about my stupid lung disease. I mean, honestly, having emphysema sucks.  Sucks worse that a part of the reason I have the disease, I did to myself.  I remember justifying my smoking by quipping “Well at least I know what I am going to die of”. Like that was a huge advantage, eh? My actual advantage was quitting smoking early in the diagnosis.  I know folks who did not quit smoking. Some of them had emphysema, but most had asthma or other lung issues.  One lost a lung, one lost part of a lung and unfortunately three friends died.  So sad and what a motivator for me to stay quit.  This disease is not nice and does not play favorites. Best people in the world succumb to lung disease.

I am still working out. I have moved to a wonderful new gated community. Here, I feel safe and it is much easier to work out as there is a full gym and two pools.  One of the pools is outside and is a normal type of pool, the kind you see at hotels and backyards everywhere. The indoor pool however is a dream come true. It is longer than an Olympic size pool and is not very deep. The deepest part is 5 and ½ feet. Still deeper than I am tall but the rest of the pool is shallow enough for me to exercise in. I can’t swim well. Not because I can’t swim, but I lose breath very quickly, even if I take my rescue inhaler 15 minutes before exercise. I can do a half a lap. I am not sure if I am just out of shape or it is my disease or both. I like to think it is because I am fat.  Thank you menopause and prednisone, that deadly duo.  It is a distinct possibility it is the lungs.

Even not being able to swim, I can exercise in the pool. I figured out a “routine”. I like to jog two laps, then backwards two laps, then sideways each side two laps and, recently, repeated that.  Due to disease I have learned to stop and catch my breath if and when I need to. No shame in it. It is better to stop and slow everything down before continuing. The key is too continuing, to not let breathing too hard to stop you from exercising. Just takes a little longer. I do enjoy the pool more than I enjoy the exercise machines or the walking track above the pool. I sometimes like to do the rowing machine but my record is only fifteen minutes.  It is a quit a workout.

Exercising seems to help. I am not losing weight but I am getting a bit more stamina. I don’t always have to take a nap every day, that frees up an hour to do other things.  Diet is also helpful. I learned when I was going to rehab how your breathing actually works. Part of the process is that your diaphragm drops into your stomach area when take a breath and then helps push the air out when exhaling. If there is too much fat, the diaphragm can’t drop all the way and then does not have enough umph to push out the air, so your back and other muscles come to the rescue. Lung disease sufferers usually have sore back muscles.  Of course not eating as much food especially at one sitting will help.  It is better if I don’t stuff myself with food even if it tastes amazing. I am a good cook. So none of that laying around feeling totally about to burst. Not good for me.

Even doing all the right things, I still have emphysema.  I get anxiety around that. I mean, come on, I have a disease that will kill barring miracles or advances in medical science. I know how I am going to die and it is not pretty. It is one of those e wasting diseases as the old timey folks used to say.  I will die pretty much either drowning in my own phlegm, carbon dioxide poisoning or heart attack that the meds give me.  Sometimes late at night I get scared about it all. I cry. I pray. I generally feel sorry for myself.  It is hard for me to share that. I want everyone to think I am amazing, that I am strong, and that I got this. Most of the time I do, I do got this. Yet there are times when I am just scared.  It is a very lonely feeling.  I never want to share that because also know that for some of medication I take the side effects can be depression and anxiety. I have suffered both sometimes daily.  I don’t want to burden my loved ones with the whole boo hoo me when it really could be meds talking.  I also found out that folks don’t really want to hear it.  They don’t care. Or they feel they have to be upbeat around you and always give encouragement. Besides I did this all to myself, no one’s fault but my own.

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