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COPD
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harmonicanick
2199 posts
Mar 13, 2015
11:18 AM
I have just been diagnosed with this, its a general term for breathlessness, emphysema etc

Old Smoking damage to my lungs, but the way forward is by diaphragm deep breathing with lip pursing on the out breath!

Now where does that ring a bell:-)
STME58
1233 posts
Mar 13, 2015
11:41 AM
Sorry to hear about your diagnosis.

Have you seen this? The connection you noticed has been observed and is promoted as therapy!
Kingley
3857 posts
Mar 13, 2015
11:57 AM
I feel your pain Nick. It's a truly nasty disease and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I got diagnosed with COPD (emphysema) about three years ago. I find that staying away from dusty environments, wearing a face scarf in cold winds, using steam inhalation, playing harmonica and singing all help keep my lungs in decent trim. Luckily I stopped smoking 15 years ago. If you haven't stopped smoking already, I'd advise you to do so immediately. Good luck with it all mate. If you need any help or advice just ask. If I can help you with suggestions I will

Last Edited by Kingley on Mar 13, 2015 11:57 AM
harmonicanick
2200 posts
Mar 13, 2015
12:14 PM
Thanks guys, I am 64, gave up smoking 25 yrs ago thank god

I understand a lot of people only find out they have 50% lung capacity when diagnosed!

I have 67% and will keep on tootin'
nacoran
8332 posts
Mar 13, 2015
1:42 PM
One of the reasons I got into harmonica in the first place was it is supposed to be good for lung capacity and I have asthma. I use an inhaler twice every day, plus a rescue inhaler. The good news is the harmonica does seem to help. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis.

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Nate
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Raven
19 posts
Mar 13, 2015
3:48 PM
Nick,

Have you checked out Seydel's Pulmonica designed for patients with COPD?
harmonicanick
2201 posts
Mar 13, 2015
3:50 PM
@Gipsy
Yeah have the inhalers and all that s***

thanks any way

I hate getting old
Aussiesucker
1461 posts
Mar 13, 2015
11:43 PM
The harmonica is great therapy for any lung condition. I am in my mid 70's and suffer bouts of bronchial asthma since my teens. I gave up smoking 45 years ago as it exacerbated the condition. I get my asthma usually as a residual after a cold & have to be careful to avoid it going to my chest. But I find my regime of swimming 3 times a week ( usually 1500m+ each time) plus very long walks on other days & of course playing the harp keeps the puffer at bay. At the first sign of a cold I use the puffer but I only use it one or 2 days then back to swimming and I can throw the puffer away. I always have a script for puffers which allows for 5 puffers but I only ever need a few puffs from one and they and my scripts go out of date. I swear by the swimming as many of the folks I swim with have the same problem under control. And, no I'm no superfit gym junkie as my swimming times will attest to that ie you can time me with a calendar. It helps that I live in a sub tropical climate where swimming is pleasant exercise all year round and with swimming you have to breathe otherwise you drown.
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mlefree
260 posts
Mar 16, 2015
10:13 AM
I have a friend who has COPD. She sees me play a lot but only recently got the notion of playing herself when she found a harmonica class in the pulmonary department at the local hospital. The problem is I think they are teaching the wrong way. They are working on playing melodies like "Mary Had A Little Lamb." Not only boring but also not really teaching them to breathe through their harps.

I'm having her over this week to: 1) make sure her harp is working properly; 2) make sure she knows how to breathe from her diaphragm; and 3) teach her to play trains songs. That'll get her on the right track breathing through the harp.

Any other ideas for those with experience?

Thanks,

Michelle

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Last Edited by mlefree on Mar 16, 2015 10:14 AM
Kingley
3860 posts
Mar 16, 2015
10:53 AM
I suggest her using a low key harp like A or G. I find it helps move mucus off the chest more easily than higher keys. The train rhythm thing is a good idea. Other than that I'd just tell her to play it as much as she can. The more you play the higher your readings tend to be in Spirometry tests as you're exercising the lungs hard and helping to keep the elasticity in them.
nacoran
8340 posts
Mar 16, 2015
2:30 PM
Kingly, I agree. My go to de-phlegming harp is my Low D (harmonic minor). I've got a klezmer sounding chug I do that really gets the air moving.

Michelle, I'm sure you've probably thought of this, but the other thing to focus on might be patterns that rely on a bunch of blow notes in a row and a bunch of draw notes in a row to push the air limits a bit. I know I've got a couple songs that seem to have long stretches going in one direction and they push my lung capacity the most. It's not just the chords, but how long you have to play going in or going out.

I wonder what the best reed setting would be. A leaky harp might force you to work harder (and let you play harder without blowing out a reed, but on the other hand maybe a more airtight harp might give more resistance. Not sure on that.)

edit- and make sure that she knows, if she is doing any cleaning with the covers on, i.e. cleaning gunk out of the holes, to do it so the gunk falls out of the harp, not into it! It's bad enough breathing in gunk, but worse when you have breathing problems.

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Last Edited by nacoran on Mar 16, 2015 2:35 PM
Gipsy
133 posts
Mar 17, 2015
12:36 AM
@naxoran. You've raised an important point when talking about airtightness of the harp, and resistance to breathing.
The name Cbronc Obstructive Airways Disease give the clue. ( The obstructive element of the disease often mainly affects exhaling.)
Adding to the obstruction by providing an extra obstruction via an airtight harp can only exacerbate the problem. A free blowing harp should give the best results.
Stevelegh
1003 posts
Mar 17, 2015
8:50 AM
Hey Nick,

Sorry to hear the diagnosis. My dad had it as does a good friend of mine. As a smoker of 28 years and into my third year of quitting, I can only say there but for the grace of God go I.

My wife works in clinical research and managed studies involving COPD. As you're probably aware, there's no fix for it yet, but the one good thing is that quitting smoking means it won't degenerate further. Harp players are an interesting breed as most of our work in 2nd position is on the draw. As you've indicated COPD affects blowing out and once you know what it is, you spot it immediately. There's a famous harp player who has it. I don't know if he's diagnosed but his laboured exhaling is a dead give away.

Harp is a great thing for lung function. I'm not sure if the Medical Harp by Seydel is of any additional benefit, but it may be worth looking at.
mlefree
261 posts
Mar 17, 2015
10:41 AM
Thanks for the ideas and insights, folks.

The input about reed setup is of particular interest. One part of me says to make it air tight; the other says to make free-flowing.

Right now I'm thinking of erring on the tight set-up side. I don't want her to get frustrated trying too hard to get notes to sound and running out of breath early-on. As she takes to it, I may open the gaps up for more of a therapeutic effect.

I feel that the most important thing is to get her mind set to accept her harmonica as her new best friend.

I'll let y'all know how it works out.

Thanks again,

Michelle

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Gipsy
134 posts
Mar 17, 2015
1:14 PM
@mlefrie. I think that's a sensible idea. If you can get her 'hooked' on playing harp, then the therapeutic benefits can be emphasised further down the track. If the harp is too difficult to play she may never get 'hooked'. If you get the time I'd love to hear how things go.
John M G
425 posts
Apr 04, 2021
5:24 PM
I know this is an old thread, but it seemed appropriate to add my recent diagnosis here.
Back in May last year I had to have some tests before surgery number 12 on my leg in June. I had to have a lot more tests before I was okayed for surgery because I was now 67. One of them this time was a lung function test.
The results that came back were not so clever and I was asked to use inhalers prior to the surgery and after to keep the oxygen levels up. I was told it was asthma at the time
I’ve been playing harp since I was around 23. I've never been short of breath or got breathless, had any chest pains or anything else except having to clear my throat on a fairly regular basis. It never really worried me, but I'd been a heavy smoker, 35 a day until I was 42.
Unfortunately the surgery didn't go as planned and in December last year the bone hadn't knitted and I had to have revisionary surgery, number 13, plus a bone graft January 18 this year. The revisionary surgery has gone well and that side of things are looking and feeling good.
BUT
I didn’t get back to see the respiratory specialist until the end of January. The results weren’t good. I’ve got 85% lung capacity of what a male my age, weight and height should have. The CT scan showed I have some early emphysema and I was told I have some asthma too. I’ve been on the puffers to delay the irreversible damage and inevitable progression since the end of January. But if it hadn’t have been for my buggered up leg I’d never known and wouldn’t be in a position to try and delay whatever damage I’ve done to my lungs with my earlier lifestyle.
In the couple of months being back on the Ventolin and Symbicort puffers the specialist said I’d made “a remarkable recovery”.
According to my doctor it’s something I might die with, but not necessarily from! I’ll let you know I go!
So I’ve been doing a whole lot of research as you do at times like this and came across this web site that I thought was worth sharing with everyone as breathing technique is something as harp players we all rely on and these methods seem well worth looking at even if you’re 100% fit.

Deep breathing exercises
jbone
3336 posts
Apr 04, 2021
9:49 PM
John, thanks for that. I smoked various things for 35 years or so and have been blessed to be free from smoking anything for about 10. I have noticed at age 66 that my breath is not like it once was. Playing/singing 3 times a week or so has made it more apparent. Doesn't last but sometimes I do have to stop and catch my breath. I have used breathing exercises in the past and I'll be bookmarking and checking these out shortly.
None of us lasts indefinitely. I feel like this era with Jolene is an apex for me and I want it to last a long time, but fate may have other plans. She has cancer in her lungs, not enough to slow her down yet but the time will come. So meanwhile we're playing all we can! She's the best partner ever.
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John M G
426 posts
Apr 05, 2021
5:20 PM
Hi jbone
I've only just got my diagnosis so have no idea what the future holds.

I just wish you and Jolene all the joy that making music brings to our existence for as long as you both can.
Best wishes John
jbone
3337 posts
Apr 05, 2021
7:37 PM
John , please know we send the same wishes back to you. Cancer sucks, music heals, and angels are among us.
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Last Edited by jbone on Apr 05, 2021 7:40 PM
jbone
3338 posts
Apr 05, 2021
7:39 PM
John, please accept those same wishes back to you.
Cancer sucks, music heals, and angels are here among us.
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Soap Music
64 posts
Apr 06, 2021
10:19 AM
Hey Nick, I'm with you on this medical condition. But l always feel better after a good work ouy on the harp. I could never get through another gig that lasted more than 30 minutes these days.
Will l pack up the Bacci? No. Cos I'm a weak minded berk. And if l see 70 I'd be happy (63 now). Didn't we think we'd live forever in the 1970s? £25 a week average wage. £5 a week rent to mum and pint of ale 12p and a packet of 10 No6 or Embassy Gold 15p. Happy days - #uk it.
jbone
3339 posts
Apr 06, 2021
8:48 PM
Funny sort of juxtaposition Soap. On one hand, yes, I thought I was invincible and immortal. On the other I had a certainty that I'd never make it to 2000. Find9ng my way to a sober life in 1987 changed all that. And life will show a person they are not invincible or immortal.
At 66 I am fortunate that I can play and sing 3 sets, with some help! I do prefer 2 sets of an hour each though.
I have not smoked tobacco for about 10 years now and gave up the other stuff in '87, but I imagine I'm feeling some effects of those years even now.
I also believe that playing harmonicas for near 49 years has probably saved me from worse consequences.
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