Having COPD is complicated. It’s more than just breathing or even struggling to breathe. You see, each of us likely has a need for tools, maybe even an arsenal of tools to use. I do.
It’s hard looking at my COPD and thinking that’s all there is. I believe there is more. Because I have a variety of health issues and some overlap with my COPD, I’m realizing that I need tools to help me through the day. My treatments and tools may be different than yours. There may even be similarities and differences. Maybe some things are new.
One of the most important things to realize is that we are all unique in our disease. We have differences. We have different medical histories, allergies, physical histories, and genetic histories as well. We can share and support one another, yet the only people qualified to diagnose and treat us are our doctors.
Let’s ponder the devices that I use. As you read, you may think of the tools you have. Think of the tools and devices that you use.
My tools and assisted devices that I use for COPD
Cellphone: To me, this is one of the most important items that I have. I keep it with me at all times, (well, except for the 3 or 4 times that I left it on my desk when I left home). If I fall or struggle, I can contact whoever I need by cellphone by calling, texting or taking a photo. Yes, they all work. Once when I used my epi-pen because of an allergic reaction, I used my phone to take a photo of the epi-pen and sent to my hubby who was working. He hurried home. The phone also has a place for Notes, so that I have a record of things that I want to remember or keep track of. The calendar is so helpful as well. I also like the clock and timer, it helps me to keep track of my days and upcoming days.
Pro-Air Inhaler: Having COPD, as well exercise-induced asthma, I frequently reach for my inhaler. Walking, using the stairs, riding my exercise bike or using the treadmill can have my lungs screaming for my inhaler. This inhaler is actually called a rescue inhaler. When I need to use my inhaler, I shake it well, then squirt one spray in the air to make sure the spray is working and the dispenser is empty. I once had an Advil pill stuck in the chamber of the inhaler and when I pushed the inhaler, the Advil shot down my throat. That wasn’t good, I felt like I was choking and did alot of coughing. A great tool is a spacer that helps to get more of the aerosol medication from the inhaler. It fits between my mouth to the mouth of the inhaler.
My nebulizer is what I turn to when I get sick or when my chest feels heavy or constricted. The doctor recommends using a nebulizer to provide the medication via airflow to the lungs. The use of albuterol or Duo-neb medications are put in the plastic cup of the inhaler, which provides a mist to open the swelling of the airway in my lungs. It helps with shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Albuterol is what I’m usually given. A different doctor preferred the Duo-Neb, which is Albuterol and Ipratropium Bromide. Since I take Spiriva, Ipratropium Bromide shouldn’t be used, as they are same type of medication. The nebulizer is not a rescue inhaler.
Oxygen: I use oxygen via my oxygen concentrator at night and during the day as needed.
My C-Pap machine is used because I have sleep apnea. Having both COPD and sleep apnea is called Overlap Syndrome. My oxygen tubing connects with the oxygen concentrator on one end, then with the C-Pap machine on the other end. The C-Pap has a hose with a mask. The full face mask goes over my face and the C-Pap pushes oxygen into me until I turn it off. If I have any surgery, I’m to wear the C-Pap with oxygen.
A Pulse Oximeter is helpful. It gives a reading of what my oxygen level is, as well as my heart rate.
If I have trouble walking or if I feel dizzy, I have a cane handy. If I’m needing something more, I have a walker with a seat so I can sit down if needed. I seldom go to the store, but if I do, I make sure that I use a shopping cart to lean on.
The shower chair is amazing. I sometimes get dizzy in the shower, or feel week. With the shower chair, I have the ability to sit if I need to do so.
A bath/shower bar is a must. It helps when I turn, as well as helping me get in and out of the bath tub and/or shower safely.
A grabber is a must. It can be used to pick up something up if it’s dropped or if I’m needing to grab something from a higher place. The front of one of mine actually has a magnet and how nice that can be!