I think that we would all agree that breathing is essential to living. When our bodies do not get enough oxygen, what happens? The most common reaction to a lack of oxygen is a sensation of panic, because our brain is very smart. Our brains tell our lungs to respond with small, quick breaths to compensate for the feeling that we do not have enough air. Loss of oxygen and/or breathing problems make us pay a big price when it comes to our health. One of the most common breathing problems is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
There are many places on the internet that explain the process of how oxygen is carried from the lungs throughout the body. If you currently have breathing problems you know from your Priimary Care Physician and/or Pulmonologist that once your breathing problems start to affect your ability to function, they can no longer be ignored. Your physician and treatment team have many medication options to choose from, with the primary goal being; to open up your lung capacity to breathe more easily.Some people think that if they take off their oxygen when they do activities and "test their lungs," that they do themselves a favor and are strengthening their lung capacity. For most people the reverse actually happens. The lungs have to work harder and the person becomes more fatigued. If you have been told to wear your oxygen for a certain number of hours per day, or specifically when you are doing activity, please follow your physician's advice. Not wearing your oxygen does not make your lungs stronger. It makes you feel weaker.My concern is your ability to function (as always). What type of functional limitation do breathing problems impose on you? The most annoying limitation that patients complain of is Fatigue or Decreased Energy. It makes sense though. With a decrease in your ability to oxygenate your body; your muscles, nerves, brain and all vital organs do not get to the same level of strength you used to have. So the plan to manage these conditions functionally is to CONSERVE ENERGY.You need to conserve the energy you do have, and not waste it all on the necessary activities you HAVE to do, but try to save some energy for the things that you LIKE to do.Please realize that your physician and treatment team know your needs better than I do, and this advice NEVER should take the place of what you have been told to do by them. But, here's what I want you to try. I want you to modify your approach to your Activities of Daily Living (ADL'S). We call this; Using Energy Conservation Techniques.
This is something that most Occupational Therapists preach to their patients. Some listen and some don't. I am just asking you and your care-partner to try a few of these ideas and see if they help:
Start out by preparing your area:
Get your underwear, clothes, (including shoes and socks) 2-3 hand towels, shampoo, soap and any other things you need.
1. Sit to shower. (Look under the HOME MANAGEMENT TAB for specific equipment ideas)
2. If you are on oxygen, wear your oxygen in the shower; remove the nose piece to wash your face, but otherwise keep it on.
3. Have your towel within easy reach of your seated position, and stay seated to dry off. * Use 2 or 3 small hand towels to dry
off instead of one large towel. They are easier to manage and require less strength to use.
4. If you don't already have grab bars in your shower, you need to have at least 2 installed.
Refer to the HOME MANAGEMENT SECTION for more ideas on Home Safety.
5. Place a chair in your sink area, that has a back and arms (not a stool) and SIT to shave, groom, apply make up and brush your teeth.*
6. Put your clothes on SITTING DOWN. STAND ONLY TO APPLY YOUR UNDERWEAR AND PANTS.
* If you are on oxygen; wear it throughout all of these steps, only removing it when it is in the way.Once you have completed all of these steps, see if you feel less tired than you normally do. If so, it is just because standing requires energy and consumes more oxygen than sitting. Now, the goal is that you should be able to spend your extra energy doing something that is more enjoyable than just getting dressed and showering...."Now let's get going!"
If you would like to learn more about Sally Thimm OTR/L Occupational Therapy Services visit: Professional Case Management of SWFL