Sunday, December 13, 2009

COPD and Massage

Besides being part of a Pulmonary Rehab program, I have now been receiving Massage Therapy. Wow!! What a difference!

Massage and this particular Massage Therapist were recommended to me by a lady in my PR program who was using massage for pain issues. She said she felt so much better and could breathe better, and it really showed. So, skeptical me, I made an appointment with Terri.

I am not one of "those" women who go in for "Spa Days" and what I call all the "primping" sort of thing. That is what I thought massage was - like manicures and pedicures. Things that were okay to do, but I thought of as a waste of money. Luxuries, you know?

I mean, I would rather buy a pair of shoes...or a something for my grandson ...than waste the money on myself! Go out to lunch with a friend...anything else!

I have now gone five weeks in a row, and even my husband is very impressed with how much better I am doing. First session (he had to push me in the chair to even get me in there) I talked my way through - telling her all about my pain and what had caused it (injuries, previous surgeries) and I forgot to enjoy! The second time she had to wake me up! I gave in to the soothing feel of her hands and the background music. The ones since have been a combination. Undeniably I am much more relaxed and truly breathing better. The tension she has released from my body is amazing. I was so tight it's surprising I was able to breathe at all.

The other reason I was hesitant about massage is my own vanity. I have lost so much weight with my illness and as you may know our skin does not shrink as we age. Having gone from a well-toned, extremely active person who was able to feel proud of her body, to this shrunken fragile looking shell is humiliating and the thought of anyone seeing "all of me" in this state was frightening! I discovered she only uncovers the part she is working on, in very dim lighting, and never sees me completely undressed. What a relief! Had I known I might have gone sooner!!

I do not have a problem lying flat, if I do it in stages. I cannot go from moving around a lot to just lying down. Some people with breathing issues simply need to have their head raised a bit and Terri can work with that. Terri has a Nursing background and I believe that is one reason she is so effective for someone with severe COPD like mine (My FEV is around 19)).

Another concern I had was cost. Just how much was this "luxury" going to set me back??? Surprise...if I were still smoking I would spend about the same on a carton of cigarettes. This is a much better trade-off!

I would highly recommend massage therapy to anyone, male or female, with tension build-up, breathing issues, pain issues, or simply in need of a "gift for me" experience...because that is what it is for me - a gift. I can state that it is and will continue to be well worth the expense.

Ask around for a good therapist Terri tells me. Not all massage therapists are alike and word does get out about a good one. They actually appreciate knowing their clients have referred them. Wouldn't we all?
Enjoy your massage!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


One of the hardest parts of rehab is staying motivated. I have been having trouble over the past month because I haven't been feeling so great. I had an infection and was on antibiotics and prednisone and just started another course of steroids with a slower taper. The doctor thinks that this time I might need to stay on a maintenance dose but I am hoping not to.

An exacerbation of COPD causes severe shortness of breath and that is just the hardest thing to deal with for me. Just going into the kitchen from my livingroom causes distress and the harder it is, the less I do it. The fear of the shortness of breath is profound. With COPD, the less you do, the less you can do.

This week is almost over, so next week I am going to get back to rehab while I'm on the prednisone and have some energy. I need to get over the fear and back to the exhilaration that I feel when I am doing something good for myself. If I stay stagnant, I get depressed and it's even harder to do anything.

I know that life can be good, and I want it back!