Respiratory Issues in the Family.

Respiratory Issues in the Family

One of the last things that you want to encounter as a caregiver (or patient) with COPD is breathing issues in another family member.  There are so many thoughts that cloud the mind.  Is this going to become COPD?  Did we do something wrong?  Can we stop this?

My son and my mom

When my son was three months old, he contracted RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).  It was incredibly difficult for my mom and I to watch him go through respiratory problems.  My son was only in the hospital over night, but it seemed like forever.  He had to wear oxygen, and they gave him breathing treatments.  I was incredibly scared for him because of all that I had been through with mom.

My mom had her own set of emotions.  She grew up with asthma as a child in the late 40s and 50s, so her personal view of asthma was incredibly difficult.  She dealt with it in a time that there were few treatments, and a flare-up would send her to the hospital.  She had to deal with breathing problems throughout her entire life, and that was not what she wanted for her grandson.  All that she could see was my son living with the same challenges.

Thankful for improved treatments

The doctors did their best to reassure me that he was okay, but I was warned that he could possibly develop asthma because of having the virus at such a young age.  At five years old, he still has a very sensitive respiratory system.  If he cannot get rid of a cold quickly or if allergies stick around too long, we need to give him breathing treatments.  He has an inhaler that we keep available, just in case he needs it.  I have cried many tears as I have listened to him wheeze in the night, and watching him take a breathing treatment tears my heart apart.  However, when I think about the medications and treatments available to my mom at his age, I am incredibly thankful that treatments have improved.

It is true that there is a genetic component to COPD.  It’s called an Alpha-1 Deficiency.1  It is a deficiency in a protein that can increase the body’s chance of having emphysema.  My mom had this deficiency, so of course we were worried that it could have been passed down.  I don’t know if my children have this deficiency yet.  There has been no need for testing at this point.

There have been great medical advancements since my mom was a child, and there will be countless more by the time that my son is an adult.  We must keep hope that someday a treatment will be developed that will end this disease once and for all.

You cannot quit

For those of you that are going through COPD again, with another family member, or even yourself, remember everything that you have said as a caregiver before.  Use that same encouragement again.  Don’t stop exercising or trying.  For the patient that may be seeing this begin in a family member, you cannot quit.  If you quit trying, it is as if you are giving your loved one permission to quit too.  Be the example of courage, and become the greatest cheerleader in your loved one’s life.

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