Exhaustion – The COPD Reality

Ben Lomond 20MAR16

I should have done my laundry today.  “Should” being the operative word, because a lovely friend called yesterday to suggest a day out on the reservoir, and I leaped at the chance to socialize in the fresh air.

That’s me in the blue cap on the green boat.  My friend wanted the pretty pink sparkly one you can see in the background, but I just took the one they gave us.  Next time, I’ll know to be more choosey.

The two hour drive up through the mountains was just what I needed to relax while starting my day, and I enjoyed seeing the mudslides cleared away, while still noticing unexpected water falls and mossy green where it’s only been dry creek beds and dusty undergrowth.  Lots of deer running around, too.

While I could previously go for 6 – 12 hours in a day, I’m now good for about 2 before I’m tired.  Very tired.  Additionally, it’s becoming more and more challenging for me to hide the tiredness.  By the time I arrived, which was thankfully early, I needed a nap and took a few minutes to recharge while my friend continued to get ready.

Construction crews were everywhere on the drive up, cleaning up after this Winter’s storm damage, and Spring was clearly in the air as the fog fought the sun to see who would win today’s battle. (The sun lost, as I got us off the lake just in time for it to start sprinkling.  It then was a ride home in a downpour).

My traveling companion has been all over the world with me on vacation, and we’re about as different as night and day in terms of activities.  I stay close to the shore, and she usually walks for miles.  She doesn’t get it, that my lack of breath limits my endurance, and I ignore the subtle (and not so subtle) suggestions to change my diet and exercise more, as if that will fix my lungs.  Seriously, it’s like dealing with my brother, who thought our Mother should “exercise” her way to health in the last years of her life and dealing with COPD.

While some form of exercise is necessary each day to keep up what abilities exist, some days are better than others for movement, so one does what they can, when they can.

Into this mix, though, comes Vanity.  Oh, yes, I’m vain.  Competitive, too.  I hate not being able to set a goal and accomplish it, and it’s particularly maddening when it’s a goal I’ve previously been able to achieve.

While my legs are pretty good for keeping up on a paddle boat (as pictured), I cannot pedal fast.  CANNOT.  If I over-exercise or move too fast, that triggers breathing issues.  So, I was clear to tell my friend that she may be stuck doing all or at least the greater part of the pedaling, if that’s what she chose as a boat to rent for the day.

We did pretty well, but my pace was too slow for her, and there was plenty of times when I simply pulled my feet from the pedals as her pace was too energetic for me.  (Please note, I’m sitting here without any leg cramps or pain, despite having spent 3 hours on the water pedaling around and about, as the issue is not my legs, it’s my lungs).

Trying to get her to understand that I couldn’t be pushed on the pace was fruitless, as she just didn’t get it and I was too vain to try and discuss it further, as my own failures aggravate me enough, without having to try and communicate with others when I’m frustrated by my own limitations.

That being said, though, another problem with my vanity is that I ran out of energy half way through the day.  She wanted to get out of the boat and go explore the island, and I needed to just sit where I was and breathe, as I had no energy or enough stability in my legs to get off the boat.  Seriously.  So, I sat and recuperated for about 30 to 45 minutes, still relaxing and casting the fishing line, but largely sedate.  She walked the island, and got irritated by people not managing their kids (young toddlers, actually, who were way too small for that kind of a trip).

I was vain enough to hide my difficulties pretty well for most of the day, but when it came time to debark from the boat once we were back at the dock, my body betrayed me.

Everything in me was trying to stand up from the seat, but my Nike sneakers (which I now think are pieces of crap!) could not get a grip on the floor.  Seriously!  Nike’s are supposed to provide slip-free footing for someone scrambling around on a variety of surfaces, and they could not handle the fiberglass hull of the walkabout paddleboat surface.  It was like I was on ice skates.

Add in shaky legs, as I stood up and my whole body trembled with the fight to get air to the point where my knees were wobbling, visibly, and there was nowhere for my vanity to hide.  I just had to sit there and endure, while my body righted itself until I was steady enough to be able to get off the boat.

I think she finally understood today that the spirit is willing, but the body just can’t keep up.  She was a great sport about it all, but it was still embarrassing to be an experienced dock and water rat and know that now that, too, is becoming more challenging for me to handle.

It was still a great day, and I would not have changed it for a minute, but it was another sad moment for finding out that my limitations are getting worse vs. better.

2 thoughts on “Exhaustion – The COPD Reality

  1. Not sure why the “follow” button isn’t visible; I thought it was something automatic, provided by wordpress? Regardless, I very much appreciate your stopping by and adding a comment so that I’d know of your difficulty.

    I really appreciated what you wrote in another blog about exercise, and every day being a chance to start again. Loved, loved, LOVED the graphic you included of the woman’s body, and hope to include that (and a reference to your blog) in a future post. (Still thinking about the contents, though, so it may be a few days). Have a great day, Gina.


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