combination of dog and person

Human Service Animal

The title may seem odd but bear with me for a bit

As a caregiver, the odds are you’re going to get to experience some “unusual” situations with the person with COPD that you help take care of.

Your loved one may start coughing violently.

You know it’s normal, probably phlegm or similar, and will resolve shortly. You know the point at which it becomes extreme or uncontrolled and when to respond, along with what medications or actions are needed. As a result, your lack of action might be interpreted as inconsideration by others not “in the know.” So you might have to be prepared to explain your “lack of concern or caring” to someone in a calm manner.

Another situation might be handicapped parking.

COPD can be invisible, as you well know. Your family member may at times need mobility aids, such as a walker, wheelchair or even oxygen, but for a quick trip in the store may be fine with a cane or nothing. Be ready for some well meaning, oh so helpful person to call them out for misusing the parking spot. Yes, I’m sure they are more than capable of defending themselves but may not have the air to do so. By the way, by defense I mean a verbal response not an advanced martial arts move!

You may find yourself seemingly making decisions for your loved one.

By that I mean you are able to read physical and mental markers that are too subtle for someone not as connected to them and then making a suggestion that “we skip this store or event and just go on home”. Obviously the patient may disagree with you and if so will tell you, but to a third person if may seem controlling if they don’t.

I tell my wife I’m her “service dog”

No insult meant to true service animals, but seriously there are times, especially when she is just coming off an exacerbation, that she feels good, perhaps too good. Where that can lead is she over does it in compensation for a week of bed-rest. Overdoing can be doing even minimal activity but yet enough to put her right back in bed for another week. SO I find myself in a position where I have to nag, and yes, to make it less aggressive I bark at her..literally. Woof.

You may run into friends and/or family that just plain refuse to accept or acknowledge the diagnosis

They may assume the patient is “lazy” or likes being “pampered”. I have the unfortunate situation of having seen this disease from two view points, having had a parent pass from it and my spouse currently suffer from it. Yes as odd as it seems there are people that just will not “get it.” I come from a family that aggressively disliked the medical profession (yes I know, odd) IF an injury didn’t involve a broken bone or excessive bleeding it healed with a “booboo” sticker and perhaps iodine. Unfortunately this also lead my parent to wait much much too late to get their condition even diagnosed, much less treated.

Having gone through a different disability over the last decade I kind of saw some of these challenges coming, though some were new and unexpected. I hope I’ve helped prepare your for some of the somewhat different situations you may encounter.



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