Welcome to the April update from Breathing Better Living Well!

Daffodils rising from brown spring groundWell, it looks like spring is finally here in Michigan! Even in northern lower Michigan along the lake there are a few signs that winter just might – at long last – be on its way out. I took this picture on Sunday when I was out for a walk. In spite of the dead brush, these cheerful daffodils are up and smiling. Even when it was cold and snowy and dead, they just kept at it, doing their best to not only survive, but thrive.

Next month, May, is a big month for both Asthma and Alpha-1 Awareness, so since this update is coming out at the end of April, we’ll be talking about asthma right now, and we’ll talk about Alpha-1 next month.

In keeping with our belief in the power of stories – how they not only inspire, but teach – we have three asthma stories for you here at BBLW.

The first one is brand new and written by a member of BBLW, Kandy from South Dakota. Kandy emailed me this story some time ago, we worked on it a bit, and here it is. Now, if you don’t know just how dangerous asthma can be, you will after you’ve read Kandy’s story, A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: How My Daughter Nearly Died from Asthma. Share it with somebody you know and love. It could save a life!

Yes, people send me stories and I work with patients with asthma, but this all hit a little too close to home for me recently when my 22-year old son was officially diagnosed. He’s had problems with allergies all his life, so I kind of saw this coming – and the Pulmonary Function Complete test confirmed it. But, before his doc could sit down with him and talk about it, my son was off to South Carolina for spring break. Well, on the non-stop 16-hour drive home to Michigan from South Carolina the cough and illness he’d picked up on break got increasingly worse. To make a long story short, he ended up with not just a bad asthma episode, but pneumonia.

Back home, the doc told my son he was going to start him out with a shot of Medrol, plus 60 milligrams of oral prednisone. He told my son, "Never – ever – mess around with driving that far while feeling that way, ever again. Stop at a hospital and get help. Do you understand what I’m saying? Asthma can kill you."

Yikes! A real wake-up call – for all of us. So, I got my son started on doing peak flows and made him (yes, I made him) read A Winning Season, the short story about a college tennis star who thought her athletic career was over until she got help with maintenance medications and also started doing peak flows. As a result, she regained control of her tennis game – and her life. Read the story, and show it to somebody you know and love. This story, and others, can be found in Breathe Better, Live in Wellness, available in our bookstore. Browse our bookstore for other tried and true books about lung disease. And, because we know you have a life, visit the “Just Good Reads” section, too.

The third story is another personal one, and sadly, it is true. In fact, it changed the course of my life. It’s Just Asthma – another story to share with someone you know and love.

May 5 is World Asthma Day! Click here to learn what’s happening around the world to promote increased awareness and better management of asthma.

Stories, stories, stories. Whether they’re written or spoken…it doesn’t matter how they’re told, only that they are told! Thanks to the COPD Foundation you can find personal stories of life with COPD on video, told by the people themselves. Each story is just a couple minutes long. I’m sure you’ll find something familiar, helpful and inspiring!

Last month we talked about Pulmonary Rehabilitation and exercise for the person with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. I hope that since then you’ve given some serious thought to joining pulmonary rehab. If you have any questions about it just log onto our community page. Don’t be shy… ask away, either in the “What do you want to know?” forum or our “Exercise” forum. Our wonderful BBLW Team is here to help you! Pour a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine), put your feet up, and take a walk through our community. There’s always something going on at BBLW, and we love to hear from you!

Speaking of our BBLW Community… As promised, Darrell’s bio is now up for the newest member of our BBLW Team — Meet Darrell, and stop in and say “hi!”

Many of you have checked out my article on Health Central, Reclaiming Your Life Through Pulmonary Rehab. Whatever you do, when it comes to exercise, remember, it doesn’t matter where you start. Just that you do start… somewhere.

If you or someone you know is newly diagnosed with COPD or other chronic lung disease, take a look at First Steps to Better Breathing with Chronic Lung Disease. We get letters all the time from folks who are newly diagnosed. Many times they’re so overwhelmed and discouraged, they simply don’t know where to begin. Well, this is where to begin. And to make it easier to share something on our site, we’ve installed the “Tell a Friend” feature. Just click on the “Tell a Friend” icon and it will bring you right to email.

Also, as promised …Breathe Right Part III – Diaphragmatic and Pursed-Lip Breathing – has been posted on the BBLW Articles page. We now have the complete collection. Dr. Sharma does a great job of taking you through these special breathing techniques, step by step. Remember though, this is not medical advice but simply information to show your own doctor or respiratory therapist. It is he or she who knows you best and can advise you on your breathing.

Remember that blizzard in out in the middle of Nebraska earlier this month? Well, I was there the day after, presenting a workshop for health care professionals — Excellence in Chronic Disease Management: Empowering COPD Patients to be Healthy, Happy, and Independent. I had a great time meeting many of the folks who work hard running pulmonary rehab programs in that region. I hope they enjoyed my workshop as much as I enjoyed presenting it.

That’s about it for now. Take care, my friends, breathe well today, and keep on making your way through the brush to find the warmth and sunshine. See you next month!


Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing until you get there.”
~~~ Josh Billings