One weekend in the arse end of 2012 I had an incident…one Friday I got home feeling that I was coming down with something, you know that feeling – just generally unwell. I spent the Saturday feeling sorry for myself, and woke up on the Sunday feeling, well, like shit actually – I was really having difficulty breathing.
Got in touch with the walk-in clinic at the hospital who invited me in (thankfully!) and was put on a nebuliser and after a good 20 minutes or so my breathing had settled. I was diagnosed on-the-spot with COPD. I don’t blame ‘em for the diagnosis; I was a smoker; I was obese; I was diabetic; everything about me screamed COPD. I wasn’t so sure, but I played along. I walked away with a prescription for a Ventolin inhaler. And it helped.
Back at the GP I tried to explain what I thought had gone wrong; that I’d been feeling unwell for a couple of days and suddenly got worse. They continued down the road of COPD; some COPD tests demonstrated that a drug called Spiriva (Tiotropium Bromide) would help and, for a while, both inhalers helped (though I did experience some of the more unpleasant side effects of Spiriva so I stopped using it).
In 2013 I finally quit smoking and made some other lifestyle changes and stopped needing the Ventolin inhaler and in March 2014 I had another COPD check which showed that I had made significant improvements to my lung health. This check was taken shortly after the partner and I had walked to the highest point in the Malvern Hills using the steepest path – a feat I was incapable of back in 1996 when we first began courting and I was smoking 40 a day.
Fast forward then to October 2014; I stopped commuting and began to spend more time working from home – lucky old me. It started happening all over again; I spent one weekend feeling very sorry for myself and then slowly and gradually my breathing became more and more wheezy – I felt as if I’d been smoking 40 a day again. This time however I began to experience rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and my skin – particularly on my arms and chest became covered in a rash. So back off to the docs – this time armed with some research of my own. This time, they agreed with me – I’m allergic to dog dander. I’ve been prescribed an anti-histamine and a steroid spray which seem to be helping along with an emollient cream for the rash. The 2012 incident coincides with Bullseye also being diagnosed allergic to house dust and she was shedding like nobody’s business – we managed to get her allergy under control during 2012 – and this more recent incident is just because I’m now working from home.
The reason I recount this story? I’m feeling rather proud of myself I had another COPD check today; after a 50 minute walk to the GPs (it was sunny!) – some 7000 steps, just shy of 4 miles (according to my smartphone) and a five minute rest my lung health is as it was back in March 2014. I’m back on the Ventolin again, but this time I know why, and I know what I need to do to avoid feeling so crap – but I also know that we can keep Bullseye – which is kinda nice because I’ve become attached to the old girl!