Living With and Fighting COPD
My Diagnosis and Treatment
In June of 2019, I was diagnosed with stage 4 COPD, by my pulmonary doctor. He put me on one of the best treatments available today. It is a once a day inhaler, called Trilogy.
Immediately, I saw a great improvement in my condition. The inhaler is very expensive but I am truly blessed that my husband is retired military, and that the Air Base carries the inhaler, so it is free of charge to me.
Then of course I looked for a way I could improve my odds, and longevity of life. The doctors prognosis seemed grim, but I think he left out one stage, (#5. "bad ass-hard to kill). Because I have no intention of going anywhere, anytime soon. I have a 7 year old Grand Daughter, that I intend to see her high school graduation.
So I went to the internet and started researching pulmonary rehabilitation. I learned how to breathe differently. I learned how to use my diaphragm to breathe. and how to do exercises to strengthen my lungs. The doctor also has me on oxygen at night, But I still looked for everything that could give me the edge on fighting this deadly disease. Air purifier, exercise, stay away from sick people, stay out of crowds, stay away from anything that has polluted air. Eat properly, get plenty of rest, and of course take my medications the way I should.
I do take the oxygen at night, as that is when your oxygen levels normally drop. Of course because of my lung condition, mine sometimes drop lower then the average person. I also have an oxygen meter that I use, to monitor my oxygen levels and also my heart beat.
I thought I had done everything I could, UNTIL----- I stumbled upon two things by accident.
How Does COPD Effect The Lungs
When we breathe, air travels down the wind pipe into the lungs and then into smaller airways, the bronchial tubes. At the end of these tubes, there are branches of tiny elastic air sacs called alveoli, which expand when we breath, and deflate when we are breathed out. This is how the body transfers oxygen into the bloodstream, and then releases carbon dioxide waste.
COPD, disrupts the airflow in and out of your lungs, and reduces lung function. When you develop COPD, your lungs become damaged and your airways and air sacs lose their elasticity. The walls separating the sacs become permanently damaged. The walls of the airway become thick and inflamed. The airways make more mucus then usual, which can clog them.
What Could Be Done To Help My Own Condition
I researched and also asked my pulmonary doctor what could be done to help my condition. He put me on a wonder medication, called Trilogy, which immediately improved my symptoms. I also looked up pulmonary rehabilitation and all the things you can do to help your lung capacity. Then by accident ,I found two things not listed under treatments for COPD.
I had always heard the phrase, "Laughter is the best medicine". But I didn't know that in my life time I would take it as literally as I am now.
Strictly by accident I came across this method of helping my lungs. My husband and I were at the base exchange, and we thought we would look at the latest bicycles, that were on the market now.
My husband decided since he had never seen a 19 inch bicycle before, he would try to get his leg over the bar and try to sit on the seat. Whoa, it not only has been many years since he sat on a bicycle, but he had never sat on a 19 inch bicycle. My husband is about 5 ft. 5 inches tall, and he is now 63 years old.
My husband attempted to put his leg over the bar on the men's bike, and he got his foot stuck. Seeing his foot stuck, sticking up in the air over the bar, for some reason, I began laughing uncontrollably. I did grab him and said, don't worry, which was funny in itself, since I am 4 foot 11 inches tall, and weigh 110 pounds. But no worries, he finally took his hand and pulled his foot over the bar, and finally was standing on the floor. Why I still find it so funny today, that I laugh out loud, perhaps you just had to be there.
Laughing and COPD
After I finally stopped myself from laughing, I found it not only made my abdominal muscles hurt from laughing so hard, but it also felt like I took in a big breath of fresh air.
This is what I learned, and no it is not listed as one of the exercises to do, or things that help COPD, when you look up what to do to make your disease better.
Laughing is a great exercise to work the abdominal muscles, and increase lung capacity. It also clears out your lungs by forcing enough stale air out that it allows fresh air to enter more areas of the lung.
So when someone said, "Laughter is the best medicine," as it turns out, they weren't kidding either.
Laugh Till You Cry
Sing Your Way to Better Breathing
Singing is a complex physical activity dependent on the use of the lungs for air supply to regulate air flow and create large lung volumes. In singing exhalation is active and requires active diaphragm contraction and good posture. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive chronic lung disease characterized by airflow obstruction.
Singing is an activity with potential to improve health outcomes with COPD.
Singing For Better Health
I accidentally found this treasure of a treatment for COPD. I had played the guitar and sang for many years. However as my COPD and emphysema progressed , it seemed I did not have enough air to sing as much, and therefore stopped playing my guitar as well.
However, after my pulmonary doctor gave me that wonderful inhaler Trilogy, I felt so much better, I got out my guitar one evening, and to my surprise, I could sing again. When I hit that second octave, I knew a great improvement had taken place in my lungs.
After I was finished singing, I found I coughed up some mucus. I knew that was a good sign. For pulmonary rehabilitation, said controlled coughing to bring up the mucus and clear the air sacs was an activity they encouraged.
So I of course researched it, and long and behold another treasure I found that was not listed under pulmonary rehab. For someone with advanced COPD, it was like discovering gold nuggets. For not only could I do something once again I loved to do, but it also helped my lungs. Definitely a win, a big win.
Play That Guitar To Better Health
Sing a Song For Better Breathing
Singing helps strengthen the muscles that are also responsible for posture. It increases lung capacity. By learning to control your breathing you can increase your lung capacity, at the same time.
Singing has a dramatic effect on the heart rate variability, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Singing relieves anxiety and contribute to quality of life, and affects COPD. Singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness.
Other Added Health Benefits of Singing
Other added health benefits of singing, include a stronger diaphragm and stimulated over all circulation.
Sing a Song and Laugh Till You Cry
No matter what your diagnosis is for COPD. Remember how long you live is always determined by yourself and a higher power.
Lungs with COPD
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on September 19, 2020:
I'm another one with COPD. Very good writing, good luck, and good health.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 08, 2019:
I also have COPD, not sure what stage. I am a retired RN, so I write a lot of medical article and wrote about COPD a couple of weeks ago. I must admit I did not know the benefits of laughing and singing (not that anyone wants to hear me sing). LOL
I loved your article as such simple things can help your breathing is such good information. I do know about breathing properly, thank goodness. Thanks for this much appreciated information.
RTalloni on August 31, 2019:
What a neat post with two valuable tips. Thanks for sharing your learning experience. Applying tried and true remedies for life's general struggles to such a specific disease as COPD is so practical it is genius!