Creating A COPD Control Team

So you want to obtain good control of your COPD. You want to minimize symptoms and live well and live long. The best place to start is by finding a great doctor. Then, you’ll work together with your doctor as a team. It’s called a COPD Control Team.

Your doctor is an expert on COPD. But, you are an expert too. I often have patients say of their doctors, “Well, he’s the boss.” Actually, you are the one paying. That makes you the boss. Your doctor is working for you, not the other way around. This is why the team approach works pretty good.

As a team, you both work together to manage your COPD. Here’s how you can help make this team thing work.

Participate in your meetings.

Doctor’s appointments are like meetings. This is how team members get together to communicate how things are going. As a team, you and your doctor decide what medicines you should take every day to control your COPD. As a team, you and your doctor decide what changes to make to your treatment regimen, if any. As a team, you and your doctor learn what triggers your COPD and how to control these triggers. As a team, you and your doctor may create a COPD action plan to help you decide what actions to take when you experience symptoms.

Create a COPD Action Plan.

This is a plan you work on with your doctor. What are your triggers? What are your symptoms? What do you do when you experience these symptoms? When do you call your doctor? When do you call 911? What medicines do you take every day to control your symptoms? These are all things to discuss with your doctor. You work together as a team to create such a plan. And then you bring it to your future appointments and you review it as a team. Together, you and your doctor make any adjustments that you decide should be made. Or, perhaps you both decide to maintain the status quo.

Do your research.

There is no lack of information these days. There are libraries. There are lots of books, like “COPD for Dummies.” But, even easier, there’s the Internet. There are sites like this. Lots of places to get information. What is COPD? Why did you get it? What can be done to treat it? What are researchers learning? What’s new as far as treatment is concerned? Are there studies I can participate it? These are all things you can learn by doing your own research. Just, make yourself a COPD expert.

Don’t be afraid to start conversations.

So, you read about a certain treatment. You think you’d be willing to try it. But, you need the support of your doctor. Say something like, “Hey! I read about such and such treatment. What do you think about it? Do you think it would benefit me?” I do this a lot with my doctor. It’s a good way of starting conversations. Sometimes he says, “Okay, we can try that.” But, sometimes he says, “No. I don’t think you should do that.” Fine! At least we had the discussion. I have actually had doctors say, “I never heard of that. I’ll have to do some research.” And in this way, we both learn.

Don’t leave with unanswered questions.

The best doctors, the proactive ones, anticipate your questions and answer them before you need to ask. But, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you’ll have questions that go unanswered. In such cases, you certainly don’t want to leave disappointed. For instance, “Why don’t you want me to try that new medicine?” Try not to leave with questions unanswered. If more questions come up, ask away. As a good team player, your doctor should be more than eager to keep you informed.

Keep your doctor informed.

You live with you every day. You know how you feel. So, it’s important to relay this information to your doctor. As a good team player, your doctor should be more than willing to listen. I think the best way to do this is to take notes. Write down any symptoms you experience, and what you did to remedy the situation. This will help your doctor see what works and what doesn’t. By doing this, you are doing your part to help your doctor make any changes, if necessary, to your treatment regimen or action plan.

What to make of this?

You and your doctor are a COPD Control Team. You are the focus and a valuable member of this team. You are the expert in you, and your doctor is the expert in medicine. Your team objective is to help you live well and live long with COPD.

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