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After A Long Hospital Stay

Long hospital stays can be one of those defining moments in the COPD journey.  It is that time when your loved one makes the decision to fight or to give up, and you evaluate how much of yourself you are willing and able to give.

Once your loved one is released the work begins.  Assuming that your loved one is willing to fight and keep living every moment, you need to put on your game face and get ready.  It’s going to be a long road, but it can be one of great hope and courage.

When my mom was in the ICU for three weeks, she was vented for 10 days.  I have to admit that it was tough to see her that way.  Honestly in some ways, I wish that I had taken one photo of her like that so that I could have shown her how far she was progressing during her recovery. There were many times that she would get discouraged because she felt that she was not progressing.  The problem was that we saw her while she was in the ICU, but she did not.  She could not see how far she had really come.  She didn’t have that kind of perspective.

After she returned home, it took almost a full year to find her new normal.  (Keep in mind, what happened to my mom is specific to her.  Everyone is different and recover at different rates.) Her legs were so weak that she really could not walk far.  She was only able to get from the bed to the bathroom or kitchen with help for a few months, and she needed help getting up from any seated or laying position for many months.  She went through in-home rehabilitation, three days per week, and she endured my pushes to keep going.

There are a few keys to recovery.

1.  Fight off the discouragement and to live in each day.  There will be set-backs, and there will be moves forward.  It is important to keep that spark of hope alive.  What is important to your loved one?  What makes them want to live and push through?

For my mom, it was family.  We all gained a new reason to fight quickly after she returned home.  I was pregnant, and mom was there to hear all about it.  She was so excited.  I believe that deep down, mom was beginning to believe that she would not be around to see my children.  After all, I was no spring chicken (true southern term for ya).  Knowing that I was pregnant became another reason for her to keep fighting.

Even with that new fight, she had a few times that it was hard to keep her chin up.  Most of the time it would be a string of days that she was exhausted, or it might be when she couldn’t do something that she really wanted to do, like stand and cook.  Those were the times when we would remind her of what she had been through and what she was still able to do.

2.  Stay persistent with the physical therapy.  If you have an in-home physical therapist or if your loved one has been in a facility, there will be a time that those will stop.  They will sign off on your loved one’s ability to continue the exercises at home.  This is when you need to fire up the pep band and cue the cheerleaders.  The work cannot stop.

It is extremely important that the legs and arms are able to move.  Moving helps to keep your loved one mobile, and mobility is a treasure that you don’t want to lose.

Still, never discount what your loved one is feeling or having to go through.  Communicate, and above all, listen.  This is a brutal disease, and there is really no way to sugar coat it.  However, it is part of the caregiver’s job to encourage your loved one through it all.  Your role is possibly more important than you realize.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • LindaM
    4 years ago

    Thank you Tonya,
    I have found this site to be a great help. Mary is such an inspiration and I am following her blogs since we are both at Stage 4. I appreciate the encouragement and knowing that I am not coping alone. Sharing with others helps me alot.

  • LindaM
    4 years ago

    I did get signed up for Meals or Wheels and that helps. The worse part of all is the loneliness. That and knowing that your husband of 35 years, 2 sons and a daughter-in-law have basically said they just can’t cope with the burden of helping me and have left me on my own. But I have God and my desire to live so I am making changes. I have a buyer for our home and I am moving to an Independent Living Complex where I will have a better support system, 3 meals a day and help if I need it. I also hope to make some friends that maybe I can do things with. It would be nice to have a friend nearby…

  • Tonya Hidalgo moderator author
    4 years ago

    Linda,
    My heart is so broken for you. I am so sorry that you have to make that kind of decision right now, but I am glad that you are willing to do it to have support and nutrition. I pray that God will send you some amazing friends and that He will wrap His arms around you and comfort you.
    Please stay in touch. We would love to hear how things are going for you.

  • LindaM
    4 years ago

    The road back is indeed long. It is a huge help to have a support network. I live alone, away from family and have almost no support network. I find that it is difficult to motivate myself to exercise. I know the importance of it but it is so hard to do all alone. Cooking is another function that is difficult to do just for myself and it is easy to miss meals or just to snack rather than cook. If you can’t be with your loved on, call or text them with encouragement. Believe me the phone calls are important.

  • Tonya Hidalgo moderator author
    4 years ago

    Linda,
    I hope you have been able to add someone to your support network, and I hope that the article that Jenn suggested has helped.

    I was wondering if you have any services in your area that delivers meals to people who are unable to get out or cook often. I have heard of a few of these types of services. One is called Meals on Wheels. I do not endorse them, as we have never used them, but if there were something like that in your community, it would ensure that you can have a decent meal at least once a day.

    Nutrition is very important, and if cooking is getting too difficult, finding a way to have a nutritious meal delivered can make a big difference. We look forward to hearing from you again!

    Tonya (Moderator)

  • Jenn Patel
    4 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing, LindaM!

    Sorry to hear that you live away from family and have almost no support network. I thought this article might be useful as it discusses this very topic: https://copd.net/living/expert-answers-building-a-strong-support-system/.

    Additionally, please know you’re not alone here! We welcome you to come by any time you’d like to share how you’re doing, or could use some information or support. We are thinking of you!

    Best,
    Jenn (Community Manager, COPD.net)

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