“This is the second blog post in the Caregiver series which discusses breathing. “
As every new parent in the delivery room knows, we hold our breath waiting to hear our newborn infant cry out with breaths from their lungs or checking on them while they are sleeping to make sure that they are still breathing. Some time after that infant stage, we relax and expect that breathing will always be such a natural part of life.
There are many things that we take for granted, however breathing is at the top of the list. For those that have lung issues, simple tasks such as walking on flat pavement, climbing stairs, walking up inclines, showering, or bending over causes shortness of breath. Really any form of exertion causes shortness of breath with IPF.
After my husband’s diagnosis last October, you try to resume your normal life while you are processing this condition. My husband works at a manufacturing plant and works on a line standing for 12 hour shifts for 4-day work week. He managed the work for the 4 days and resting for 3 days. Exhaustion comes from exerting more energy to breath than you had to before.
One of the first items purchased was a pulse oximeter that measures your level of oxygen. If your levels of oxygen are consistently below a certain level, the heart and brain can sustain damage along with the possibility of collapsing. This￼ new little gadget now goes everywhere with you and you become in tune with your body to sense when your oxygen level has dropped.
There are many things that require acceptance for patients with IPF. The first one besides carrying and using the oximeter is realizing that you can’t do everything that you once did. This is especially difficult as well as asking for help with tasks. This was the first stumbling block for my husband. As a caregiver, the first action we seem to take is to hover. I hovered over my husband until I realized that that action didn’t help him. He was in the beginning of the learning process and he had to adjust.
Part of going to the pulmonologist require routine breathing tests to be completed. Watching him complete the pulmonary function test can be difficult to watch as they are trying to take deep breaths and expel breaths. This is where taking breathing for granted really hits home. In 2 short months, the task of managing the breathing had become more difficult and using oxygen was the next step. Now acceptance really begins!!