Before I leave the house in the morning, I usually play the Pulmonica for five minutes, staying on the low notes. It’s a form of meditation. In the middle of the afternoon I usually play it for about 20 minutes, again as a form of meditation while I’m waiting for the bus. And then in the evening, I find it calms me down and I play while watching TV, maybe 20 minutes, maybe an hour or more. I’ve dabbled with playing songs on it, but haven’t gotten very far yet.
Once I woke up and quit smoking, I was doing the outward things, exercises, like walking, kayaking, etc., but my lungs weren’t getting any better. Then winter came and I was feeling really bad. The Pulmonica program gave me hope. What it did for me was make me feel like I was doing something about my recovery and I know it works. It makes sense to me. I feel an improvement. I didn’t feel like a lot of stage 3 COPD patients, and I’m hoping there might be a reversal.
Usually in the morning I would be coughing -- I would be coughing right now. I’ve noticed that there’s no fluid levels like there used to be, I hardly have any phlegm in my lungs at all. I used to fill buckets full of that stuff. In fact, I made a joke about to the doctor when he handed me a small cup and I didn’t have enough to show him. Sometimes after I play the Pulmonica, I cough up a little bit, but nothing like it used to be. I don’t have the choking I used to have. I live on the second floor and I don’t have any problem walking up the stairs now. I walk a mile and a half to work and all over town. When I used to walk down to the corner store, I would have to stop four or five times to rest. Now I don’t have to stop at all, and I look back and laugh, and that makes me feel good.
Pulmonica taught me breathing exercises. I used to think yoga and that Eastern stuff was a little far-fetched and wasn’t for me, but in reality the breathing makes sense to me and I’ll do it. Once I got into the routine, even if I didn’t have the Pulmonica with me, I found I was doing the same kind of breathing exercises, so it taught me that.
I think the deep belly breathing strengthens my damaged lungs, both with the Pulmonica and with deep breathing exercises when I don’t have the Pulmonica with me.
Most people, when they get COPD, they figure there’s nothing they can do, what’s the use of trying? But they have to help themselves, and the Pulmonica can help with that. I encourage everyone to give it a try.
I still use Advair twice a day, but they lowered the dosage from 500 to 250. The other medication I primarily use the Albuterol/Combivent combination. I use it in the morning because that’s the worst time for me. However, by noon, I forget that I even have it, so my usage has gone way down. I used to use it six or seven times a day.
I even feel like it helps clear my nasal passages. It opens up and releases any phlegm and allows better breathing.
I’m just so glad that the doctor found this Pulmonica. I was having a lot of trouble breathing, and I couldn’t cough anything up. Now with the Pulmonica, using it at the longer intervals (up to 90 minutes at a time), I’m able to bring stuff up and I’m breathing better, able to walk a little bit further, and I started to do housework for the first time in six months. I’ve been playing while driving, and it is wonderful. I used to get dizzy from playing the Pulmonica, but once I learned how to deep breathe, the dizziness went away. I wasn’t breathing right, I never knew that.
My nebulizer use is down to three times a day from four, and I’m going to try to cut back to two. My rescue inhaler is down to three times a day versus eight. My lungs are pretty clear now, and I’m not bringing much up anymore.
My energy level is way higher, I haven’t taken a nap in about five weeks. I feel like a different woman. This pulmonary rehabilitation program has changed my life. I didn’t want to live before. I used to pray every day that I wouldn’t wake up, now I pray every day that I will wake up so I can see my grandbabies another day.
The low notes on the Pulmonica are hard, so I start with the higher notes and work my way down. When I get down on the low notes, I start to get hoarse, so I stay about the middle. Even so, there’s a big difference between the Pulmonica and the regular harmonica we received. You have to do the deep breathing with the Pulmonica, but you don’t with the regular harmonica.
Pulmonicas are like meditation. I feel like I’m going to a safe place. I’m less depressed.
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