COPB and Stress - I can't breath!

I'm new here, but many of the stories resonate pretty strongly... I was diagnosed with COPD, asthma, emphysema about 15 years ago, and off & on do pretty well usually. I've had a few times that I've had to take prednisone, but until recently I only used a steroid inhaler, Q-Var 2x/day and a rescue inhaler occasionally. I'm almost 67, smoked for about 37 years and quit "cold turkey" when I was 54... (My Dad died at 55 from emphysema, etc.). I'm not doing as well recently - I asked my doctor for a prescription for a nebulizer, and that helps some, but... I'm actually looking for a different doctor (I had Kaiser Permanente insurance when I was diagnosed, but now have insurance with another company and new doctors) I've never seen a pulmonologist, so I have no idea of my "Stage", or of other tests or treatments available. My doctor just doesn't take me or my condition seriously. I bought a pulse oximeter and use it a few times a day - my O2 ranges from (occasionally) 80 to about 92, usually in mid to high 80's. Of course, when they check it at the doctor's I've been just sitting waiting for 10 or 15 minutes, so it's as high as it will ever get, 93 or 94! I can really relate to the stress from personal family matters. My Mom is 96, and lived with me for 15 years until a year ago when she fell & broke her rt. hip and rt. wrist. She flew through ortho surgery, and was transferred to a "skilled nursing/rehab" facility, and in less than a week they had literally ruined her feet. (They didn't "float" her heels, aids pulled her across the sheets with heels dragging, and she was totally helpless to move. In less than 5 days both heels were black and "necrotic". She has really bad circulation in her legs/feet, and they dragged pressure stockings ("TEDS") on and off carelessly and severely tore the tops of her feet open. Needless to say, I had her transferred to a good facility, but the damage was done and she had to have wound care/dressing changes every other day for over 6 months. She ended up with a huge ulcer with exposed tendon on top of one foot where the worst damage originally hadn't healed, and had a bypass (successful!) below her knee to establish circulation, followed in 10 days by another surgery to remove 3" of exposed tendon. Then she got MRSA from the hospital, and had to go to another facility for daily infusions of antibiotics for 5 weeks... It's been a year this month, and two weeks ago the wound care clinic finally announced her last wound (left heel) was healed (although always vulnerable). She's now in a nursing home, unable to take care of herself and in a wheel chair, depressed and bored (mentally she's pretty intact, which is almost a deficit with her current situation). I visited her every day for 2-3 hours for almost 10 months, in addition to about 1 1/2 hours RT travel time. I now see her about 4 days/week, because I just have to have some time myself. Her life the past year has literally been Hell, and I have to say mine hasn't been a lot better. Now I'm having serious problems breathing, even crossing the house to let my dog in or out... I'm pretty sure my oxygen levels aren't helping anything, because I'm getting pretty forgetful sometimes (like my best friend's last name?!), but most of all I'm wondering whether this could also be the cause of my recent serious leg stiffness, and bad pain in joints generally, but worst in my legs and knees. (My knees have had several surgeries each, but somehow haven't hurt until now...) I'm sure the extra weight I've gained in this last year doesn't help either! I just feel like crap most of the time, and wish I didn't even have to get out of bed... Anyway, It's just me to handle all this, as well as paying and tracking mountains of Mom's bills from medical and nursing facilities, pharmacies, individual doctors' bills, etc. There isn't anyone else to help with anything, just the two of us, but with as bad as I'm starting to feel I've given up on any hope of every bringing her home... I just couldn't handle it. (I'm sorry this ended up so long - just seemed to pour out!)

5 Replies

  • Awe you and your mum have had a very hard time of it :( It's no wonder you are feeling so low & exhausted. I wont pretend to know too much about your illnesses but I do know what its like to feel the way you are feeling xxx My father in law had Emphysema amongst other conditions & I saw how hard it was it was for him :( Myself I have only recently been diagnosed with Copd, its the exhaustion I cannot deal with, I have been treated for Fibromyalgia and have recently been told it may have been Dercum disease or I have both.

    I've been having regular blood tests & after reading an article I found myself insisting at my Rheumatologists appointment that my Cortisol levels were checked. This is not done automatically in the full blood count and it showed up I had very low levels they want me to have them again before they can make a decision.

    Check out these symptoms .. It might be worth you having some blood investigations.

    The symptoms of low cortisol, or hypoadrenalism, include:

    Mental and psychological ailments such as depression

    Faintness and dizziness

    Weakness and fatigue

    Heart palpitations

    Emotional hypersensitivity

    Inability to cope with stress

    Social anxiety

    Muscle weakness

    Headache, scalp ache, or general body ache

    Severe or dull lower back pain

    Extremely sensitive skin

    Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting

    Abdominal pain and hunger pain despite an empty stomach

    Extreme craving for salty foods

    Anxiety and jitters

    Clumsiness and confusion

    Motion sickness

    Insomnia and dark circles under the eyes

    Low bladder capacity and symptoms of IBS

    Irregular or non-existent menstrual period

  • Many problems it seems.I would just go back to Dr. I am here to give a listening ear.

  • You certainly have a lot on your plate. I find stress aggravates my breathing. I know it is difficult to eliminate all stress.

  • You must see a Pulmonary doctor, they are the ones who are trained to treat lung diseases, they will do all the needed test which it sounds like hasn't been done and get you on the right meds for you. If you aren't on o2 then you need to be. I was told not to go below 88, otherwise I would go into hypoxmia and need to be in the hospital. You need to walk as much as you can as this is what keeps the lungs strong, start out with very short walks and as you get stronger go a little further. You need to take care of you are the moment so you will be around to take care of your mom. If it is possible to have someone come in the home to care for her, I would go that route, she will be so much happier, Plus I have no love for nursing home. I'm also over weight and I know it doesn't help the breathing, but as I tell the doctor it's didn't go on over night and it's not coming off overnight work with me here. I'm sure the lack of oxygen is causing the legs to be weak, it effects every part of the body. Keep us posted on how your doing.

  • So sorry you are having a bad time of it. I suggest you get a Dr. that will take you seriously. Your stress with your mom isn't helping at all. You should be on Oxygen, at least at night. You should also have a travel unit. You need to be careful when visiting your mom, any infection, especially MRSA is very bad for you and your lungs. I can't stress enough, you much have a Medical team behind you that is there to help you. Do it soon!!! Good Luck.

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