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COPD: It’s Not Easy To Watch

A girlfriend sent me a text the other day. She said that her husband didn’t understand when she got short of breath.

He was very good to her most of the time, but when she had shortness of breath episodes, he would tell her to be quiet and stop.

He makes the situation worse than it has to be. That would bring tears to her eyes and more shortness of breath while he would stomp off in a huff for reasons unknown.

COPD can be hard for those around you

Watching you live day to day with COPD is no easy task. I remember, as a kid, watching my mother experience shortness of breathing episodes. My stomach would feel like it was on the floor. 

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Seeing her go through it, I would get so lightheaded and feel like I would pass out. Not knowing what to do to help her through the episode meant that I was as helpless to her as she was to herself.

It didn't change until much later, as we both matured and accepted what was happening. Then we could talk about a plan on how to resolve it.

I understood that she had no more control over what was happening than I did. I told her how it upset me to watch her episodes, and then I asked her what I should do when the inevitable happened.

She told me to rub her back and count with her as she inhaled for two seconds and exhaled for four seconds. Just say anything but say it in a soft and relaxing voice.

Letting your partner know how to help

He wants to guide you through breathing better, but he may lack the skills and then gets frustrated. You both likely need more information than you know right now.

There is a plethora of information at your Lung Health Foundation and local Lung Societies and Associations. Ask them about support groups in your area.

Lots of virtual sites have popped up because of Covid. Do the reading and find a way to talk to each other and how to work through it.

There is lots of information right here in this community and other peer-run reputable support groups online.

Everyone deals with illness differently

People deal with the sick in very different ways. Some ignore it like it isn’t there, some can’t face it because it is too hard to watch, and sometimes people are afraid it is contagious and it could happen to them.

Invite your husband into your circle and let him learn how to soothe you when you get short of breath. Have an open and honest talk with him so he will know what to do and how to help when you get short of breath.

You can take control of the situation with little effort. Just remember that it is not easy to watch a loved one going through such turmoil and being helpless.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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

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