Tag Archives: Coping with COPD

Baby Steps…

Since returning to The Swamp off the Saint Johns River in Central Florida after my birthday trip to Chicago I have started, slowly, to begin a daily exercise regimen. A physical therapist gave me a two page list of low aerobic exercises to do. And sometimes I actually do most of them.

After purchasing my portable oxygen concentrator I have begun a walking program. I’m not pushing it too hard. I do, after all, carry three stents in my heart. Because of my COPD my lung capacity is only 21% of what it should be. Over the last week I’ve been walking every morning and afternoon on top of walking from my boat to the air conditioned “Escape Pod.” Ive been walking in small “laps” to supplement the longer pod walk. Yesterday I walked a half mile all together in bits and pieces.

Last night I opened Google Earth and measured the length of the road I take from the lane out of where my boat is moored to where it makes a 90 degree bend. It’s .3 of a mile. I’m going to give that a shot this morning. Not going to try and do it all in one shot. That’s the goal, however.

The first goal is smaller, yet. In Chicago I had a bad time navigating one city block in particular. I had to stop three times to catch my breath. I didn’t have the concentrator then, just the albuterol inhaler. The last time I stopped I was actually down on one knee! People passing by inquired if I was “all right?” Yah, sure, I just do this all the time to elicit sympathy from strangers.

This is where I walked for a half mile today.

Quarter mile up and quarter mile back to where I’d parked the SUV. Plenty of shady spots along the way in which to rest and catch my breath because I couldn’t do this all in one shot. The oxygen concentrator doesn’t prevent me from becoming short of breath, but it DOES HELP with the rebound time to a healthier blood/oxygen level.

Now, at the end of the day and ensconced on my boat with a fan on me and the concentrator plugged in for charging, I checked my pedometer readings. Including the trek to and from the “Pod” I managed to walk .6 of a mile today. Best day yet.

Not a big deal for most people, but for this 80 year-old geezer it’s progress. Baby steps.

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I Could Use Your Help


My name is Richard.I am an 80-year-old man who needs your help to keep me alive. 

I’ve been battling COPD, a progressive disease, for over a decade. Once it gets ahold of your lungs, it just keeps getting worse. You can’t stop it. All you can do is cope as best you can. Currently, I am puffing along on 21% lung capacity. 

Working on the computer or lying down reading a book, my breathing is as normal as anyones. When I have to move, I fall off the cliff. 

Right now, I can’t walk a city block without having to stop two or three times to catch my breath. A portable oxygen concentrator would allow me to walk and do light exercise, which would tremendously increase the quality of my life.

Good brands like the Inogen G5, Philips Respironics, and the Invacare Platinum are EXPENSIVE. They easily cost as much as $3,000! And an extra battery for up to 8 hours of working time goes for more than $300. 

I exist solely on SS. The cost of a new machine is nearly 25% of my gross annual income. That leaves me in a real bind.

“Aren’t portable oxygen concentrators covered by Medicare?” The answer is: Sometimes. 

Typically, Medicare won’t pay for a portable oxygen concentrator unless you need oxygen 24/7. Well, right now, I DON’T have a 24/7 need. The doctor also has to provide evidence that alternative measures have failed. Other than medicines like Breztri and Breo Ellipta, no other alternative measures have been suggested. 

I have to foot the bill myself though I’ll go through the Medicare process to see if I can get approved. Your contribution is a breath of fresh air.

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I Need Your Help…


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Coping With COPD

Went for my 3 month visit with the pulmonologist. He was an hour late seeing me and then our total visit was less than 10 minutes.

He wanted to do a blood/oxygen test which consists of putting one of those thingies on your finger and then doing a walking stint for 6 minutes. Starting level was 97%. After about 3 minutes was down to 92%. My 80 year-old hips were beginning to hurts so I said “Fuck it” and told the nurse I wasn’t going to make 6 minutes. Hey! I’m down to 21% lung capacity. I’m not going to push it any more than I have to.

The doc ordered some kind of B/02 tester that I’m going to be receiving soon. Supposed to wear it around my wrist while sleeping and then send it back for them to do some kind of study. Sounds like more mumbo-jumbo bullshit to me, but we’ll see.

Anyway, I did get the form to take to the D/L bureau to get a handicapped plaque to hang on my mirror. Lots of places it hasn’t bothered me not having one. If I can get two or three spots away from the handicapped space I’m okay. I still have to sit in the SUV for several minutes to get my breath back to what passes for normal these days, though. Going to places like Home Depot and the Super Wally World, on the other hand can be a real bitch.

Will go to the D/L Bureau tomorrow. I need to change my address, anyways. Also get my voter registration changed. Think I’m actually going to register as a Republikunt so I can participate in their primaries and screw with their system. Don’t, and WON’T vote for any of those assholes in a general election anyway.

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Smokers Are Gamblers

Smokers are like compulsive gamblers, but with their lives, not their life savings. We all bet we’ll be like the mythical “Uncle Bill” or “Grandma Betty” who smoked two packs a day all their lives and lived to be 103. In reality, don’t bet on it.

I started smoking cigarettes when I was 12 years old and continued puffing away for the next six decades. In addition to a pack to a pack and a half a day addiction, (and that’s what it IS, NOT a HABIT) I also consumed vast acreages of the produce of Mexico, Jamaica, and Colombia.

It all had it’s toll. Yesterday, Dec. 27th, 2021, I visited the pulmonologist for the results of my recent chest x-rays and a pulmonary function test. There was good news and bad news. The good news was the x-rays didn’t show any lurking tumors though there was no underlying reason to believe there were any.

The bad news is I’m plodding along on 21% of my lung capacity. I get winded making the bed, so I don’t do that. I sit in the car for several minutes to regain my breath after moving the 50 feet or so from the boat to the SUV. It SUCKS!

But for all that I’m in fairly decent shape for someone approaching 80. Sure, I envy the 80 year olds who run in marathons and compete in triathlons, but I wouldn’t be doing any of that even if I didn’t have COPD. My blood pressure is excellent. High normal, but in the “normal” range never the less. My blood/oxygen level, at rest, which is the benchmark, is always 98%. A person needs to be below 80% to be considered for supplemental oxygen therapy. On my initial visit to the pulmonologist I had to do a five minute walk while wearing the Covid-mandated face mask. The blood/oxygen thingy was on my finger. Of course the exercise made the blood/O2 level drop, but only by 5% which I don’t think is that bad.

Honestly I’ll be surprised if I see my 81st age-advancement day. But I’ve already beaten the national life expectancy average of 77 years which is, by the way, DOWN from 78.8 years because of Covid deaths. At 79+ I even beat the previous expectancy.

I’m not crying about my condition.I did it to myself even knowing what could possibly happen. I am one of the fortunate ones. All the things I dreamed about doing as a kid floating around in an 8-foot pram on Flax Pond at Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Mass, on Cape Cod, I DID! I’ve been down most of the Mississippi River, I have done the “Great Loop” which is a circumnavigation of the eastern half of the United States by water. I’ve been through the Panama Canal. I’ve sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. I had my own small sailboat and single-handed on a 9-month round-trip from Florida to Mexico, Belize, and the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. I published a book. I LIVED, not visited, in two foreign countries. I’m not looking forward to dying, though they say it’s the best part of a life which is the reason it’s kept till last, I’m ready. No one, taking their final breaths, ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office…”


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COPD Can’t Beat Me!


I have started a Go Fund Me campaign. All contributions gratefully accepted…

Hi! I’m Richard, a 75 year old sailor with COPD and I need your help to write my SECOND book.


In my early working life I was a newspaper reporter, a magazine editor and published many freelance magazine articles. But I’d always dreamed of being on a boat. I never wanted to sail around the world, though. I wanted more attainable goals…like doing The Great Loop, a circumnavigation of the eastern half of the United States. Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean had been a childhood dream.

A quote that changed my life came from Richard MacCullough’s book Viking’s Wake. He wrote: “And the bright horizon calls! Many a thing will keep till the world’s work is done, and youth is only a memory. When the old enchanter came to my door laden with dreams, I reached out with both hands. For I knew that he would not be lured with the gold that I might later offer, when age had come upon me.” So, at age thirty, I left a good-paying job as assistant PR Director at a large hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and became a minimum-wage deckhand on a dinner cruise boat I knew I could take up writing again at any age. I became a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain of yachts and small commercial craft and spent the rest of my working life on boats. I did The Loop. I sailed across the Atlantic. I transited the Panama Canal. I lived out the dreams of my childhood.

In 2009 I retired and moved to the mountains of western Panama where I wrote my first book: “Adversity’s Wake: The Calamitous Fourth Voyage of Christopher Columbus.” The book was translated into Spanish by two girls at the Universidad Latina in David (dahVEED). I combined both versions into a dual-language book  available at Amazon.com.

In April, 2017, with my lung capacity down to only 34% of normal, I repatriated to the U.S. In spite of struggling for breath after even simple chores like making my bed, I knew I couldn’t let the COPD dominate my life. (Yes! I gave up smoking about six years ago.)


Back in the states I bought a small, 22-foot sailboat
on the “One Easy Payment Plan,” and cruised from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, across the state and up the shallow waters of the state’s Gulf Coast. I made it to Carrabelle in the eastern panhandle when total renal shut down caused by severe dehydration put me in Tallahassee hospitals for nearly three weeks. When I recovered enough to return to my boat I made my way back down the coast to the anchorage at Bradenton Beach, FL, a little ways south of Tampa Bay. In all the trip was around 800 miles.

I blogged about the trip and posted updates on Facebook as I cruised, but, wintering here at anchor in Bradenton Beach, an idea for a non-fiction, book has been germinating. It has a working title of: Four Feet or Less: A cruising guide for gunkholers.” Gunkholing is a boater’s term for wandering from place to place in shallow water and spending nights at anchor rather than in a marina. The name comes from the gunk, or mud, in creeks, coves, marshes, and rivers. “Boondocking” is the term used by RVers for a similar “off the grid” experience on land.


In order to finish researching the book I need to revisit many of the places I anchored before to gather more detailed information. To do this successfully I need some extra equipment. Subsisting entirely on Social Security alone it’s nearly impossible to put much aside after paying for dumb stuff like, oh, FOOD, meds, phone. What I need, in order of necessity, are: 1) a reliable, second outboard motor 2) a Go Pro-style action camera 3) a small drone so I can take aerial photos of many of the anchorages.

I need the outboard because I can’t sail anymore. My hands are too painfully gnarled from arthritis to haul on halyards and wrestling with flapping sails leaves me on my hands and knees gasping for air. In the roughly 800 miles I traveled in the past year I only actually sailed the boat about 4 times. Either there was NO wind, there was TOO MUCH wind for a 22 foot boat, or the wind was on the nose and it would have taken too long to tack my way to the next anchorage.

Since many of the places I need to return to are often out of cell phone range and far from the rescue services of Boat US or Sea Tow, a reliable second engine is a safety factor, not a luxury. I’m NOT looking to buy a NEW outboard. A second hand 6 to 9.9 hp two-stroke engine will do just fine. Good USED outboards run about $800 to $1,000. I already have a second outboard bracket on the transom.

I need an action camera because they’re waterproof. I took a lot of photos on my last trip but used it sparingly so it wouldn’t get it wet and be ruined. Again, I’m NOT looking for a top of the line model, just one that will take reasonably sharp photos under all conditions. These cost around $250.

A drone that can carry that action camera aloft for photos of the anchorages would be fantastic! I have photo editing programs I can use to mark routes to the anchorages. A decent drone would cost about $250.


Altogether I should be able to purchase the equipment I need for around $2,000.

Donations of $25 or more will receive a free electronic edition of Adversity’s Wake: The Calamitous Fourth Voyage of Christopher Columbus.

Donations received above and beyond what is needed for buying the equipment will be donated to the American Lung Association.

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