Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Become a Smokefree Living Advocate

I hope you are all doing well tonight.
As for myself, I am still dealing with pain from the "shingles". Some of them have opened, others are slowly fading... but the pain is still intense.

As we are now in an era of trying to live "Smokefree Lives", there are sites in which you can join where you may voice your opinion to your Senators, Congressmen, etc. on TAKE ACTION issues.

I have joined the American Lung Association, receiving newsletters on a daily, weekly basis. I took action on the most recent: "Harmful Effects of Tobacco". I was very happy to receive a reply e-mail from Senator Nelson of Florida.

Dear Ms. Grace:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about smoking.

Medical science continually reveals new research magnifying the harmful
effects of tobacco. The link between cancer and tobacco has been well
publicized, but smoking is also a risk factor for the development of
countless other diseases. The costs society bears to treat these
illnesses are staggering especially when you consider the countless
resources allocated to battle often-preventable diseases.

There is no question that measures can be taken to reduce society's
dependence on tobacco. Of particular importance is educating children
about the dangers of smoking in order to prevent them from ever starting
the habit, and ensuring that tobacco companies do not market their
products to children.

Additionally, I believe we can act to lessen the harmful consequences of
smoking. To this end I cosponsored S. 625, the Family Smoking Prevention
and Tobacco Control Act. This bill would provide the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products with the
goal of reducing the number of people who start smoking and increasing
the number of people who quit smoking. S. 625 has been referred to the
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

I appreciate your concerns about smoking. As tobacco related issues
arise in the future, I will be sure to keep your opinions in mind.

P.S. From time to time, I compile electronic news briefs highlighting
key issues and hot topics of particular importance to Floridians. If
you'd like to receive these e-briefs, visit my Web site and sign up for
them at

My thoughts are we all need to "Get Involved" and "Take Action on issues that we strongly believe in.

If you follow the attached link, it will take you to a "Smokefree Advocates" Page on Lori's site. Here you may take a look at several sites to become involved with.

Breathe Well My Friends... Living Smokefree

1 2 3... Inhale ... 1 2 3 4... Exhale


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Looks Like Shingles... OUCH!

Greetings from the "Sunshine State"

The first sign of Shingles may include itching, tingling, and burning. A few days later a blistering rash appears which can last up to 30 days!

I would like to share with you my very painful past few weeks! This is how it happened. Around August 12th, I seemed to have developed an ear ache, so I bought ear drops. I used them for a few days and thought my ear was feeling a little bit better.. although I felt a numbness. I thought it was the chamomile drops numbing my ear or rather the pain! But also my neck was sore to touch and actually my skin hurt to the touch it. The following day I saw awful blisters on my upper torso, to include my chest area, arm, under arm, neck front and back... I immediately called my doctor and got an appointment that day. As soon as he walked in and saw me, he said... "UH OH looks like shingles!"

What to do? He prescribed Vicoden for the excruciating pain. I cannot even begin to tell you how much pain I was in. Acyclovir 800 mg, 5 X's a day for 10 days which is an antibiotic. I started the regimen of pain pills, to my chagrin... the Vicoden did not even touch the pain. I called my doctor again, explaining to the nurse that I just could not take this pain any longer. Within a few minutes she called me back with a stronger prescription.

The new meds indicated, take one tablet every 6 hrs. as needed for pain. Sure enough it did help and finally after a few days of complete bed rest, I was able to get up and actually start to eat a bit. Because of the awful pain I could not eat, only drink water and take my regular meds and the "shingles" meds. Altho I did my best to eat some crackers and jello.. yummy!!

My biggest concern with the pain meds was that it could have created a problem with my breathing. Because of the nature of these drugs, there is a big warning on the bottle "Taking more of this medication then recommended may cause serious breathing problems."
Needless to say, I was very careful in taking them.

Something that we should all be aware of is that: "We need to be careful with any different medications we may need to take. If possible, research the side effects and reactions that could occur while taking these along with our 'normal' meds." Also remember... do not be afraid to ask you doctor any questions you may have.

Today is a better day, altho I still have some pain on the right side of my neck. From what I have read, sometimes there is residual pain from the shingles and it is called, (PHN) Postherpetic Neuralgia. The pain from shingles can range from burning or throbbing to a pain that is stabbing or shooting. In my case the shooting and stabbing would apply! I can only hope that this will go away quietly and stay away.

I know most people wonder... "what causes shingles?" Well, from what I have researched, if you have had Chickenpox than you are at risk for this potentially serious and painful disease.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus can remain inactive in your body for years. If the virus becomes active, you can get a case of the shingles. What causes the virus to become active... stress and perhaps a weakened immune system.

One thing I mentioned in the beginning of my post is that at the time I was using the ear drops, I assumed the drops were causing the numbness to my ear. But after being diagnosed with shingles...I read that they can cause numbness to the ear if the outbreak is in that area.

I have attached a site link with more information about "SHINGLES".

If anyone has had this type of experience, please write in and share this with us. It is very helpful and important for all of us to beable to learn and share together.

Breathe with all the strength that you have my friends,

1 2 3... Inhale ... 1 2 3 4... Exhale


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Singing makes me smile!

Singing brings a SMILE to my face!!

When I was younger... many moons ago, my cousins, aunts and my mom would gather in the kitchen to play their guitars and sing. I loved watching all of them and the beautiful sounds of the guitars. But what I loved the most was the wonderful sound of my moms voice, she could sing like a canary and whistle like a lark, what beautiful memories.

Over the years I tried my talent, singing alone so no one could hear me. When I got older, one night I was at a club and they had a talent show, my friends encouraged me to get up on stage and sing.... which I did!!! Later that night the club owner approached me and asked if I would come back on a regular basis to sing. WOW!! I was shocked... I didn't think I was good enough, but apparently he did! I "thanked" him for the nice offer, but declined. As many of my friends know me I am not shy, but I really wasn't ready for the "big time"! I just wanted to enjoy my music and sing for my friends to make THEM smile as much as I do when I listen to music.

About 7 years ago I ws singing at a Karaoke Club and actually had a request to sing different songs for the regulars.... "that made me smile"!

Then it hit... I was diagnosed with COPD/Emphysema... "dang it"! I didn't think I would beable to sing again. But do you know what?... It's okay now, I have learned how to work with "it" - COPD/Emphysema. The best thing for me is to keep singing. It helps expand my lungs and also... gets that trapped air out so that I can "Breathe in Fresh Air".

You see, I have a wonderful tool... my "Mind", that is how I deal with this crappy disease on a daily basis. I use to get out of breath when I sang, but I don't anymore because I have trained myself how to take breaths when necessary. I have done much research with regards to singing and breathing techniques.

Music truly does make me smile! Even as I am writing this BLOG I am SMILING... and I have a CD playing on my computer. I love to sing country, blues and soft ballads. I especially love to sing Irish tunes!

I hope many of you can relate to the wonderful sounds of music and all of the benefits that come from it... most importantly... how it makes "YOU SMILE"!

Please share with us your stories about the music in your life. Whether you have a lung disease or not... share with us your love for music!

I am also interested in patients using O2, is there anyone out there that is able to sing, while on oxygen? I would think it would depend on the individual, but again... let me hear from you!!

Relax and breathe through the sounds of music

1 2 3... Inhale ... 1 2 3 4 Exhale


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Community swimming pools - germs & more germs...

On a clear day, rise and look around you. And you'll see who you are.
A beautiful song that just popped into my head!!

For several months now a girlfriend and I have been going to the community swimming for senior water aerobics. Usually about a 45 minute workout each day.
I just found out that it is NOT the best avenue for exercise.
I was instructed not to use the pool because of the GERMS and BACTERIA in the water. Well you know that some people do their **** in the pool... YUCK... and even though they use chlorine, it does not kill all of the bacteria. So, I will be exercising indoors with my exercising techniques that we posted earlier in our blog.

Also, with anyone having an open wound, the bacteria in the water is not good. The bacteria or chlorine may cause an infection to set in.

If you have breathing problems but enjoy swimming, try to stay in the shallow sections. I did notice a shortness of breath because of the pressure in the deeper water.

Just a few tips that I thought you may be interested in!! I am sure by now you know my reaction to GERMS!!!!!! I am scared to death of them. So when a doctor tells me to "Stay Away"..... by golly that's what I do!!

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

1 2 3 ... Inhale ... 1 2 3 4 ... Exhale

Your fellow COPD'er,

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Love of a Family - by Lori Palermo

I would like to share with all of you a Montage Video that I put together In Loving Memory of my dad, Wayne. For those of you who do not know, my dad passed away 26 December 2003 after a 13 year battle with COPD/Emphysema. Since that time I became very involved in lung disease and smokefree living work. In June 2006, on Father's Day, I launched my own website In Memory of my dad and In Honor of all patients and their caregivers who live every day with the debilitating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. I have now become an Advocate For Lung Disease Awareness & Smokefree Living.

This video shows what a kind, caring, and loving husband, father and grandfather my dad was. He was truly the #1 Dad!

I love him and miss him with all my heart.

God bless,

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the video.

A Lesson in Diaphragmatic Breathing

Good Evening Folks,

It's a very warm evening here in sunny Florida!! But who's complaining, as long as we have air conditioning... thats all that counts!!

I would like to take you back to Lori Palermo's vacation with me at Ft. Myers Beach last month. One evening Lori and I were talking about her dad being barrel chested with his COPD and the different ways he would sit when he tried to breathe. I began explaining to her how we COPD'ers breathe differently than "Other Folks". Meaning that we use "Diaphragm Breathing". When folks without a breathing problem "inhale" their stomach goes in... but when we take a "breath" or "inhale" our stomach goes out. Lori and I practiced for quite awhile.

We had a good time and it was funny watching her... LOL, but it was also very educational. You actually had to be there to see us... both of us sitting face to face, our shirts tucked up, with our hand placed on our stomach, being able to feel and see the difference in our breathing technique. It's one of those things that you really have to concentrate on what you are trying to do... just ask Lori!! After several tries... well maybe MANY, MANY tries.... she finally accomplished the breathing technique. I even got a bit confused myself trying to go back and forth between her "normal" breathing and our COPD'ers breathing!

Now you ask... Why do we do this? Well, we are trying to exhale the stale air in
our lungs and exchange it for good clean air.

Put your hand on your stomach and practice your "Diaphragmatic Breathing".

I have attached two sites that will give you more information on Diaphragm Breathing.

Breathe well my friends, breathing is how we live!

1 2 3... Inhale ... 1 2 3 4 Exhale


Friday, August 3, 2007

Pursed Lip Breathing

Hello to all my friends!

I hope you are all having a Healthy and Happy summer! It's hard to believe we are already into August.
I just returned home from a fun-filled vacation, visiting family and friends in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Funny... I needed to come home to rest... from my vacation!!
While on vacation, I woke up thinking about "pursed lip breathing"! I realized I had not added that important piece of information to my "Breathless on the Beach" post.

So, here we go......

When Lori and I returned back to our destination from our walk on the beach...
well let me back up a bit, when I told Lori that I was becoming "short of breath" and anxiety was grabbing hold of me I also told her to keep talking to me so that I could focus on her conversation and not on being "SOB" and my "anxiety". One very important factor was that as we were walking back and Lori was talking to me I was also practicing my "pursed lip breathing". This type of breathing "controls your breathing", slows down your anxiety and helps you from gasping for your next long as you "stay focused".
As Lori and I returned from our walk, I mentioned to her how the "pursed lip breathing" had also helped me. She told me she saw that I was "PLB". She remembered seeing her dad use this breathing method many many times. But never truly understood its meaning and effectiveness until she saw how it helped me get through this situation.
Here is a link to an informative site about pursed lip breathing.

I would be very interested in hearing what type of breathing methods help your "anxiety" and "shortness of breath" situations. Please write to me and share your stories.

Live each and every day to its very fullest....

1 2 3 Inhale ... 1 2 3 4 Exhale