Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Treadmill...who needs a treadmill?

Deciding to write about my experiences with having COPD at the urging of friends and family puts me in the position of being obliged to say something about the way I am feeling, or trying to get around my feelings, rather more regularly than I would choose, but understanding that it is the only gift I can give my loved ones and others who may be wondering how they are going to feel, or cope with or ignore their own feelings, based on their own issues,  I am willing to give it a go. I have to talk about my treadmill.

Of course, nothing else matters when you can't breathe, and many of us with compromised lungs have experienced the panic of feeling unable to catch our breath and resume breathing normally.  But, being completely unable to breathe is not often the routine state of affairs for folks like me with COPD; so it's more likely I will fall into the trap of not being able to breathe well enough to do something I want to do at the time, and therefore deciding not to do anything. Like not walking on the treadmill when I really can't walk outside.

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to staying ahead of the depression that can cloud my thinking and make me absolutely sure that the thrill of living is gone. I think it is important to remember that wisps of despair are always lurking, ready  to come looming in through cracks in my mind like malign spirits in old horror movies,  and must be assiduously pushed back out the way they are trying to push in, and not allowed  access to the space where my plans and goals for each day's activities are being evaluated and accepted. Because, it is from each day's decisions that weeks of depression are built.

No one starts out to be a constant victim of dyspnea (if you are going to be short of breath, you may as well know the snazzy name for the condition), or even worse, the threat of dyspnea. It's very easy to tell myself that no one else understands what it's like not to be able to catch my breath, or enjoy doing something,  and so I will just keep quiet, opt out,  and sit down somewhere out of the way to read a book, an activity that is almost guaranteed not to make me short of breath. Reading books is not the problem, either. Reading books is an excellent thing to do, and can be a source of great pleasure, but sitting alone and reading can become a prison without walls, a place where no one else is invited in and nothing is expected of me that will make me push myself to participate in life on any level. That is the problem. Books, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, computer surfing, television...even sewing or crafting, are  reasonable and pleasurable activities that must be put aside each day for periods of standing up and moving (if one wants to continue to be able to stand up and move...)

I am speaking to myself. I am all too aware that there will come a time when standing up and walking to the corner store will no longer be an option for me, and that that sedentary solitude is already the only life for many people with my same diagnosis, but for those of us who are choosing to live like that before it is forced upon us, thinking we can always change our ways if we want to, it's time to quit fooling ourselves. We are creating that reality and wanting people to feel bad for us. It remains to look into the corners of our minds for the dismal spirits lurking there, and force the depression out. It will take physical action to accomplish this.  In staring competition, depression remains  an odds-on favorite to win.

So, what am I getting at? Saying what is going on is always a useful thing for me to do. I can ignore almost anything that isn't being talked about, and since I spend a lot of time alone, talking about things often takes the form of writing about things for me. If I want to feel more positive and capable, I must be more active. So, it wasn't really a very smart thing to do to give away my treadmill because it didn't look particularly attractive in my front room, and now I can just buy another one. Sigh.

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