Before I received my double lung transplant, I was in a field of pain and agony related to my cystic fibrosis. Coughing attacks, being hunched over for extended periods of time, hospital beds, stress, not being able to walk but a few feet, and feeling awful the majority of the time had a huge impact on my body in the form of pain, body aches, and poor posture. I experienced major neck, shoulder, and back pain because of my progressing disease.
In order to relieve my pain and correct my posture, I had to find things that helped me personally. I have always been the type of person who will try anything once to relieve unnecessary pain, so I've been able to find a few things that seemed to help me breathe a little easier when it wasn't so easy.
The first method I found was massage, which helped me tremendously. Not only were massages an hour to an hour and a half of pampering, but they also allowed my aching body to find a sense of relief. The massage therapist helped by getting out the knots that could build up in my problem areas from coughing so much, hunching over from coughing as a defense mechanism, and stress. By getting these knots worked out, I felt as though I was able to breathe easier due to less pain and increased movement where my lungs and airways are. For me, massages helped me relax my mind as well. I found myself getting anxious when my lung function was dropping to ultimate lows, and massages gave me a place to ease my mind and let myself go to a place of rest and relaxation.
Another way I helped my posture and aches was using a foam roller.
The foam roller is an amazing tool for me. After being in a hospital bed all the time and coughing so much, I felt the need to stretch out my back and body. It is obvious that being bedridden in the hospital and the stress associated with this can cause tension. So, I used the foam roller to stretch out the problem areas, which were mainly my back. By rolling it on top of my back, it really stretches the muscles and helps to open up my airways more. I found that it helped me in similar ways as getting a massage because it corrected my “hunched-over effect” that I would get when coughing. For me, hunching over served as a defense mechanism to protect my lungs and chest cavity when coughing so hard. By using the foam roller, I found that it helped me significantly, and my posture and aches were much better than before.
Lastly, I love using a yoga ball to sit on. I found that this helped when doing my breathing treatments and when sitting around. By using the yoga ball, I was forced to sit upright and keep my spine straight, thereby correcting the hunched-over effect that many of us tend to have. This allowed my airways to be fully open and gave me maximum expansion of my chest cavity, which made my breathing a little easier.
Even though I had my transplant, I have still adopted these strategies into my “new” life. I still get massages, use the foam roller to stretch out, and use the yoga ball to help with my posture. These all have been such great additions in my life for both my body and my mind. We all need to relax and find a sense of relief from the pain that CF tends to force on us, and finding these tools have helped my life with this disease in such a positive way.
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