How planning has helped me to live better with COPD
When living with COPD, a guide on what to do in various situations is helpful
Most of us with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have probably told our friends that our plans are always penciled in so that they can be easily changed. If that is true, why am I talking about planning? Because having a plan helps us not to fail.
The first one I would like to discuss is my plan for managing COPD. My pulmonologist and I developed this plan, which needs to be updated as things in my health history change. Individualized plans can lead to a better quality of life and fewer COPD hospitalizations.
The first part is an assessment of my current health. I am asked if I can do some everyday things like regular cleaning, cooking, walking, climbing stairs, and making my bed. I either answer that I can, I can with help, I struggle, or I can’t do these tasks. This gives my pulmonologist an idea of my lived experience with COPD.
We then move into the next part of the plan, which provides instructions for what qualifies as a green, yellow, or red day. The green days are those with few, if any, symptoms. On these days, I take my regular medications as prescribed and pretty much do whatever I want to do.
Yellow days are the not-so-good days that do not require a trip to the doctor’s office. On yellow days, I am instructed to rest and maybe start taking an added medication. I must monitor my symptoms and, if necessary, begin taking an antibiotic. If I start the antibiotic, I inform my doctor’s office so they will have a record of what I have done.
The red days are the dangerous days when I need to call my doctor and report to the emergency room or my doctor’s office.
People who do not live with COPD might have a hard time understanding why a person needs this care plan. They might say that when we are sick we should go see the doctor, and when we are not ill we should proceed with our lives.
But people with COPD will tell you that we often have a problem understanding when to go to the doctor. An example of this is that I struggle with fatigue. But how do I know when it is something more than my normal fatigue? I consult my action plan. My plan says that if I am more tired than usual for two days, I need to call my doctor.
Most people have a cellphone these days and consult it for their shopping lists, social calendar, appointments, and many other activities. The COPD Foundation also provides a pocket consultant guide app for your phone. I have started using this app instead of a printed copy.
Some days, I don’t feel like cooking a meal or I may need to spend my time doing other things. I have a plan for these days, too. On days when I am feeling well, I cook in bulk so that I can warm up servings in the microwave. Last Sunday, for example, I cooked six large potatoes in my instant pot. I can pop the potatoes in the microwave for two minutes and treat them as baked potatoes, slice and brown them like fried potatoes, or quarter and warm them to serve as boiled potatoes.
I make good use of my instant and crock pots because I don’t have to monitor them. This allows me the freedom to work on something else while my food is cooking.
I am also a list maker, so I make a list of things I wish to accomplish for the week, including appointments and deadlines. I can plan my days around this list.
Some of the items on the list are more difficult than others, so I can pick the projects that I feel up to doing on any given day. Some weeks an item will remain on the list without being completed, and I am trying to allow myself to be OK with that.
These are some of the ways that I have used planning to make life with COPD a little better. What is your planning like? Please share in the comments below.
Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.