Building Strong Support Systems
How will you go about building strong support systems? It can be a daunting task but it doesn't have to be. We need to be surrounded by those that can empathize with us and exchange proper, current, and helpful information. These are the people who can offer private confidential support. It’s a comfort to know that real people are suffering from the same daily symptoms and looking for the same support and information as we are.
These are the ones who know about our fears and understand what it is like. It’s not really a case of "Misery Likes Company", but more a case of seeking what helps from those that understand.
Seeking help and support after COPD diagnosis
Once we get past the initial shock of our diagnosis, it’s normal to begin a quest for help and advice. For many of us, the first thought after diagnosis is of self-blame and guilt but that serves no purpose. Your superpower will come from educating yourself to better understand your illness. Learning what the doctor needs to know will enable them to make a better diagnosis.
The problem is that we usually come away from the initial diagnosis with little information or real knowledge about COPD. Worse yet, we have no idea where to begin our own search. Divulging your diagnosis to family and friends can bring on a slew of recommendations and remedies that were a “surefire cure” for someone they knew or who had your disease. It’s my experience that none of that information has any real value and in fact, some could be harmful.
The information exists and it is available to you for the asking. It is your job to be vocal about asking for information and be voracious in reading everything that you can.
Asking for information
Start conversations with every doctor and every professional asking a simple question. “How would you begin to look for information or where would you find information?” Gather information with the intention of getting a feeling for what works best for you and how to help yourself.
Before you can begin your search, you should spend some time with the problem so you will be sure of what you are looking for. Make note of the things that will help you now and in the future. Look for peer support groups that welcome caregivers so that they can get a better understanding of the normal illness symptoms.
Local support programs of free or reduced cost
Reach out to your place of worship. Do they have people who visit parishioners? Are there any groups that you could join such as a choir or a weekly afternoon group that would interest you? Libraries can also be a good source of support. They often offer exercise classes and information sessions that are free or of little cost to you.
Your doctor should be another great source of community support. Ask for free or reasonably priced programs that exist for you. Ask for parking permits and inquire if there are any services for transportation.
Call your local Lung Association or COPD Foundation to inquire if there are any lung support groups in your area.
Next, our search takes us to Google and that brings an overwhelming amount of information that can be overwhelming and impossible to decipher. Some of it is good information but some again can be harmful.
There are many online support groups and in-person peer support groups. Most of the online groups are private so your comments are safe and will not leave the group.
Which of the following best describes your COPD diagnosis?