Welcome to our April update from Breathing Better, Living Well!

Just take a look at this picture. We should all be as calm and serene as this scene, shouldn’t we? We should all be able to sit back any time and unwind. Yeah, right!

You might be thinking, “I’m so short of breath, how can I possibly relax? I huff and puff just walking through the house and every time I sneeze I start to worry that things might only get worse. I could end up calling the ambulance, be rushed to the hospital…and then what? Will I even leave there alive? Or… what if I go out to dinner, or a ball game, and have a bad breathing attack in front of everybody? Something terrible is bound to happen! I can’t even go out anymore…” To some of you this might sound like something hatched from a run-away imagination. For many of you, though, this is all too familiar – and all too real!

One of the biggest problems for people with pulmonary disease is panic and anxiety. But to a great extent you can have control of your breathing – and your life. Even if you’re an anxious person by nature, you can learn how to lessen episodes of panic and anxiety.

Starting now, Breathing Better, Living Well will be spending more time on these issues and posting more material about it on our site. This material, as always, is not intended as medical advice, but for information purposes only. We urge you to show it to your doctor, your respiratory therapist, and/or a behavioral health professional to see if you might be helped by some of these techniques.

At BBLW we believe in people who have been there, helping people who are there. Who better to help than a pulmonary patient with experience in counseling people with panic and anxiety? In that light, we are honored to welcome Dr. Vijai Sharma to Breathing Better Living Well as a Contributing Professional. In this role Dr. Sharma will be writing a Yoga for COPD column, which will be posted regularly on our site. We will also be posting articles and excerpts of his articles about coping with panic and anxiety. Here is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Sharma, Clinical Psychologist of over 30 years and COPD patient.

Here I was; at age 53, diagnosed with emphysema, which had been hiding under my nose and progressing steadily for who knows how many years. They said…my lungs were as if I were a 76-year old man. It was quite a come down for someone who is used to hearing, "You look like you are not over 40" to be told, "Your lungs look like you are 76."

Soon, my usual optimistic attitude surrendered to pessimism. Pessimism turned into depression. From 2 or 3 puffs twice or twice a day, my use of bronchodilators had increased to 3 to 4 puffs 4 times a day. On a bad day, I used them as much a 5 times day. I was getting sometimes breathless from just moving about the house…

To see how Dr. Sharma found his way through the anxiety of a frightening diagnosis to regaining control over his breathing and his life, read the entire article,  Never Give Up, Never! You can also read an excerpt of his groundbreaking work,  Anxiety and Panic Attacks in Emphysema & Other Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD). Visit his website for more information.There’s lot of information on MindPub, so we’ll be helping you out by featuring special articles as we go. Thank you, Dr. Sharma, for joining us!

News from the BBLW Bookstore! I was surfing Amazon the other day, actually looking for relaxing mood music – which is one of the best tricks I use to wind myself down . I was surprised to discover that the audio version of my book, Breathe Better, Live in Wellness, can be downloaded, in addition to being ordered as the 5-disc set.  Take it easy on yourself. Sit back and listen as Heidi Hayes’ soothing voice reads the words of people just like you who have overcome their anxiety in life with lung disease.

We’re very pleased to announce that the third edition of The Asthma Sourcebook by well-known physician, Dr. Francis Adams, is now available in the Breathing Better Living Well Bookstore. With allergy season approaching, and asthma awareness month coming in May you’ll be hearing more about Dr. Adams on BBLW next month. For asthma basics, click here. Get your asthma questions ready and we’ll tell you how you can get them answered. Stay tuned…

Speaking of questions, remember to visit our BBLW community page! You’ll find up-to-the minute information, and a wealth of encouragement, inspiration and support especially for people with pulmonary disease from those who have walked that same road. You are not alone! Visit our community. You’ll be welcomed, informed, and inspired!

On a personal note, I sadly share with you that my father passed away on March 24 at the age of 82 of heart and kidney failure. He died peacefully, with family at his side. The visitation, gravesite service and funeral were so comforting and uplifting as many people came to pay their respects. My father touched many lives; he was like a father to many others besides my sister and me. There were people from age 90 to age 12 who came to say a last goodbye to his gentle man who always had time to talk or lend a hand, and was best described by many as “just such a nice guy.” This picture was taken at a celebration of his 80th birthday. That’s him, in the middle, wearing the blue shirt, surrounded by family at a favorite restaurant. We’re so glad we have that memory!

Thanks for sticking it out with me through my absence – and also through this especially long newsletter! As you can see, we’ve got a lot going on at BBLW – with a lot more to come!

Take Care, Breathe Well today. I’ll close with a simple quote from my dad and I’ll see you in May.


My husband is sitting next to me. My kids are on the
other end with my sister behind them. Her husband is behind me and
the rest of them are her kids. Her son flew in from Montana just for
that dinner as a total last minute surprise and I have never seen my
father happier and more grateful than on that day. He was happiest
when we were all together.

“Be thankful for everything you have.”