My Role With COPD as the Caregiver

We are three days short of 2 months since my husband's triple bypass. He has come so far and has accomplished so much. He actually started working part-time a few days ago. The ability to do that is so important.

A shared journey of support

Have you ever had someone who took care of you the majority of the time? Someone who did the shopping and errands? Someone who did the laundry? Someone who at least carried them up and down the stairs. Someone who steadied me if I was dizzy. Someone who understood my shortness of breath, swollen face, and allergies.

Over time, I saw my husband struggle when he walked up the stairs. Carrying things was difficult. Carrying laundry down meant dragging it down the stairs and carrying it up.

He is worse health-wise than I am, I'm sure. I hate seeing him do that. It was time for me to step up, and I did! I could see relief in his eyes.

He looked a bit unsettled, too. I have always done my share. Once upon a time, I felt I could do it all.

Moments of relief

After two to three weeks, he said to me something like this: "You must be a lot better at pain than I am because you don't seem to be in pain at all."

Relief! I finally responded with something like this: 'Thank God. You have had horrific and painful surgery; I didn't think it would be right for me to complain.

It's hard to pretend everything is okay, and he is so perceptive to notice that. I'm grateful. We both know that you aren't to lift more than 2 lbs. I stay in my room so I can be me'. He responds, "I know."

I told him that I was staying on my meds and still not feeling pain relief. Doing laundry and going up and down the steps four times is so hard and painful. We are both struggling and short of breath about 4 or 5 steps from the top.

Going to the grocery store is hard; thankfully, the high schooler next door has helped me carry groceries from the car upstairs to the kitchen several times. I am still coping with the odors that have permeated my sinuses. Being on my feet that long is killing my back and right leg.

I have been struggling with cleaning the house. I'm working hard to keep it clean, but it's overwhelming. I'm so relieved that he could fix the vacuum.

Having feelings of isolation

Sometimes I feel as if I'm being petty and selfish. People want to know what they can do for him. I want to say, "What about me?" "My pain is overwhelming; I can't even think. I'm so physically and mentally tired that I can't sleep. I'm doing things that I shouldn't be doing. There is no one that I can ask to help.

My kids and grandson are 3+ hours away from me, and his daughter and husband are 70+ miles away. He doesn't want to bother them because they are so busy. There really isn't anyone else that we would have come in.

Mine have mentioned they would come; one is busy with life changes, and another with severe health issues. You know, though, I think it's good for me. I can fight it and do it if I have to.

I have felt so alone. For the past couple of weeks, my husband has been reaching out to me or a friend. He has been able to get out and drive, and he has been working for a couple of days. It's good for both of us, really.

There is so much talk about pets being service animals, in hospital operating rooms, in doctor's offices, even in court rooms for children. They sure are beneficial to all. I want to train two of mine to be service animals. Why? Mainly if I'm traveling, I don't want to lock them in the car and worry about temperatures or risking that they could be stolen.

My "Baby" (dog) is 13 with a heart murmur and congenital heart failure. He would be the best service animal, except for his health. They would make things much better when I travel, especially if I'm staying in a motel. I want them to go with me.

Finding ways to cope

I told my husband that the weather must be goofing me up. I used my inhaler. Still tight, I went to the refrigerator freezer, opened it, and took a couple of deep breaths. That sometimes helps with the humidity and/or the feeling of drowning.

We sometimes keep the bathroom window open up to an inch or two for short times to help with humidity and freshen the bathroom odor. We don't do it often because of the wood-burning furnaces, fireplaces, and fire pits that can be smelled or even permeate into the bathroom or whole house, so we need to use caution. This past year was bad with the Canadian fires and the fires in Wyoming and the Black Hills.

This has been such a difficult time for both of us. We're a good team. He says stop, rest when I get tired or struggle.

It's amazing, and I can pace myself this way. I will have to get a knee replacement on my right knee this winter, probably after Christmas, unless it goes out on me, as it threatens to.

We will take it one day at a time. No matter how difficult things are, we will get through it. Know that we are here for you and that you aren't alone.

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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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