First Steps to Better Breathing with Chronic Lung Disease
Step 1.) Now What?
You’ve been told you have a Chronic Lung Disease. You may be angry, sad, depressed, confused, or all of these things. It’s important to recognize that many of these emotions are very common in life with chronic lung disease. But help can be found in many ways.
So, what now? Well, what you’re going to do, is take some steps. “What?” you say. “No way! Walking, let along climbing steps, is the most difficult thing for me to do! It’s the last thing I feel like doing right now!”
Well, my friend, you can do it if you do it this way: slow and easy with plenty of the right information and support. You can do it. Don’t give up!
Step 2.) Don’t Give Up!
The first thing is: DON’T GIVE UP! Did you know that there are over 65 million people with some form of chronic lung disease, 16 million diagnosed with COPD alone and at least that many who still don’t know they have it? You are certainly not alone! Your best weapons to fight this disease are education, exercise, support, and having a positive attitude. Keep going and we’ll show you where to find this all-important help.
Step 3.) Find The Right Physician
People with Chronic Lung Disease must have the right physician. Take a look at the following questions:
- Does your doctor listen carefully to you, your symptoms and family history before giving an opinion or diagnosis?
- Does your doctor encourage you to take an active role in the management of your lung health? Is he or she willing to be your partner in helping you breathe better and live as well as possible?
- Does your doctor know about the latest in approved treatments, procedures, and breathing medications and their side effects – and if he or she doesn’t, is willing to refer you to someone who does?
- Does your doctor recognize the value of pulmonary rehabilitation for the treatment of lung disease?
- Does he or she realize that there is more to pulmonary disease management than sitting at home because “it is only going to get worse?”
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you have a keeper! If you answered “no” to any of them, consider looking further. Remember, you’re the customer and you hire your doctor. Of course, you must do your part in complying with what your doctor tells you to do. The best doctor in the world cannot help you if you don’t follow instructions or take medicines as directed.
Step 4.) Get into a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a program of exercise and education especially designed for people with Chronic Pulmonary Disease. In pulmonary rehab you’ll gain strength and stamina, and learn a lot about your lungs and how to stay as healthy as possible. You’ll also find new friends, plenty of support, and have fun! If your doctor or the respiratory staff at your local hospital doesn’t know where the nearest Pulmonary Rehab program is located, contact the AACVPR (American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation) by phone (608) 831-6989, or visit the AACVPR website. Check into Pulmonary Rehab and learn what you can do to be on your way to better breathing!
Step 5.) Get Smart!
Take control of your life by becoming educated about what’s going on in your lungs. Ask questions of your health care professionals. Make sure you’re doing correct breathing and inhaler techniques to know you’re gaining as much benefit from them as possible. Read books, magazines and information on the internet. The material on this site and on our links page is a great start. Be skeptical of treatments or other remedies that claim to cure your disease – ask your doctor or respiratory therapist about them. No matter how much you know, there is always something new you can learn!
Step 6.) Stay Involved
Did you know that isolation can actually cause further illness? It can also decrease your immune system and lead to depression. No, you can’t expect your family and friends to completely understand what you’re going through, but with your help, they can begin to learn. Tell them what you’re doing to help yourself. Get out there and socialize! It might take some extra effort, but make plans to go out to dinner or to your grandchild’s school program or sports event. Use a wheelchair if necessary, and you’ll have more breath for talking, eating, and laughing!
Feeling self-conscious about wearing your oxygen? Would you expect someone who needs glasses to drive without them? Of course not! If you need supplemental oxygen, wear it. You’ll breathe easier and live longer. Who can argue about somebody wanting to do that?
Step 7.) Support Others — Help Someone
Do you really want to spend the rest of your life sitting at home thinking about how bad your breathing is? If you do, all you’ll get out the rest of your life is to stay at home thinking about how bad your breathing is! Don’t forget to live!
Here are a few suggestions for what you can do to have a richer, fuller life, and at the same time make the world a better place:
- Be a friend to someone in your rehab class or breathers’ group. Share a smile or a joke. Tell someone that you appreciate them just being there.
- Visit with others and post your questions, thoughts, and encouragement on our Community bulletin board. You’ll find support from those who understand what you’re going through.
- Contact your local hospital, non-profit agency, school, or place of worship to see what you can do to volunteer. Volunteering doesn’t have to be strenuous. If you can’t move around very well, you can answer the phone, give directions, stuff envelopes, or do many other useful things. You can listen to a child read or simply be a friend. Talk about making a difference!
This is just a start. There are countless other things you can do to be as healthy as possible – and help others. It will enrich your life and the lives of those around you.
Now, let’s review these “First Steps.”
- Now What? - take stock of what you’re up against
- Don’t Give Up!
- The Right Physician – the right doctor makes all the difference
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation – easy exercise, education and support
- Get Smart! – knowledge is power…take control!
- Stay Involved – avoid unhealthy isolation
- Support Others, Help Someone – you still have a lot to give!
Whew! Those are a lot of steps, but keep on going – you can do it! You can breathe easier and feel better if you just have the right information and a positive attitude. Remember — you are not alone. You’re in good company with many wise and courageous people. Together you can Breathe Better and Live in Wellness.