Dear Friends,

Welcome to the latest update from Breathing Better, Living Well! I hope you’re enjoying our new website and finding your way to all the different kinds of help and support we have here.
It’s hard to believe, but coming up on September 16 it will have been a year since we lost our dear friend and BBLW moderator, Melisa Iturria. Melisa was just 42 years old with severe COPD with an FEV1 of less than 15%. But in spite of this, she carried on as wife and mother, homemaker and school volunteer, and of course in her ever faithful work at BBLW. On our BBLW Community she always spoke so lovingly of her family; mostly of her helpful husband, her mother (they talked everyday), and her young son, of whom she was so proud.

But this is not a time for sadness! In honor of, and in celebration of, the joy Melisa brought to us and so many others, we have declared Sunday, September 16, 2007 Breathing Better, Living Well Family Day! Surrounding this day we’ll have a special place to talk about family issues on our forum, and we’ve posted a lot of information on how you can cope with family issues and chronic lung disease.

Well, you know I’m a talker and I love to tell stories, so on this very subject I’m going to start out with a little story of something that really happened. There was a lady with COPD and it was her first day starting our pulmonary rehab program. She was in her early 60’s and her lung function was quite low. She was in a wheelchair because she found it very difficult to walk due to shortness of breath, and she used supplemental oxygen. All of us were sitting down together for our class and this lady began to tell us a little bit about herself. She was saying that she had a rather difficult home life. Most of her adult children had come back to live with her and they were creating a lot of work for her and not at all helping out around the house. It sounded like she was really having a hard time. The man sitting next to her suggested that she explain to her family members some more about her COPD, and if she did, they would surely be more likely to understand – and to help. Imagine our surprise when she turned to him with kind of a look of shock and said, “But – they don’t know I have this!” Here she was, in a wheelchair, wearing oxygen, and gasping for breath. We don’t know how she did it, or how she was thinking she was doing it, but to not have even told her family she had COPD,well, she was not being honest with them, and certainly not with herself. I can only imagine the stress – and the effort – it caused her to try to hide it from her loved ones.

Now, this might seem like an extreme example of poor communication in the family. But the fact is that coping with COPD and family issues can be very tricky – and sometimes, very sticky. In this newsletter, we’re going to give you links to some excellent information on coping with family issues with COPD and other chronic lung disease, and also introduce you to some types of extended families for help and support. Here’s something to consider: You might think of your family as three circles, with you as a spot in the middle. The first circle, the smallest one and the one closest around you, is your biological family and your close friends. The next circle, one that encloses the first circle, consists of the people in your breathing support group and / or pulmonary rehab (if you are fortunate enough to have that available). The third, and largest circle, includes those in your on-line pulmonary family – those you’ve connected with on internet forums such as ours. You are not alone! Click on the links below and after you do, I know you feel more connected and supported, and better able to express yourself in a way to find the support you need.

Here on the BBLW Community page we’re always having interesting, down-to-earth discussions on all aspects of lung disease, including family life. Here’s your chance to listen in on some fascinating conversations that took place on our forum.

Well, that’s about it for today. I hope you like the picture of this ocelot family taken at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Remember the date: Sunday, September 16. Spend time with your family, keep the lines of communication open, and thank them for all they do. Whatever your personal learning style, whether it be reading about it, writing it down, talking it out, or just taking it in, we know you’ll find something at Breathing Better, Living Well to inform and to inspire...and to help you live a full and healthy life with chronic lung disease. We’ll see you again soon right here, at Your New Breathing Better, Living Well!

Jane

“Why not be oneself? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?”
~~~ Edith Sitwell