5 Ways People Cope With Severe COPD.

5 Ways People Cope With Severe COPD

Last updated: May 2018

So, I am a respiratory therapist. I work with lots of COPDers. Some have severe COPD. And some come visit me more than they’d like. We often pass the time through conversations. They get to know me. I get to know them. It is in this way I see how they cope. I see how they manage to stay positive despite living daily with unhappy lungs.

Let’s take this a step further. I have a friend with severe COPD. He said it’s hard enough to cope with this disease. But, he was told he had to have shoulder surgery. He said he can hardly move his arm. But, he was also told he cannot go under anesthesia. So, he can’t have the surgery he needs. But, he said, “You learn to cope. You find a way to cope. It’s just what we do.”

So, based on these conversations, I conclude that there are five ways people cope with severe COPD. This is based on my own observations. This is my opinion. But, it’s based on my time spent with some of my favorite patients. Here are five ways to get the most out of life despite whatever limitations life throws at you.

Rely on friends and family for support.

It certainly helps when you have family and friends to help out. I had one patient recently who said (paraphrasing), “When I was diagnosed with this, I didn’t think I had many friends. But, once diagnosed, once I was stuck in my house all summer, I found that I had friends coming out of the woodworks. They are there to help you with chores around the house. They are also there to play cards. Feeling sad? They supply shoulders to lean on, or warm bodies to hug. Perhaps they’ll just sit with you, the way you are right now, and this can lead to engaging conversations to pass the time.”

Spending more time with kids.

Kids are like the perfect remedy. I’ve been known to cheer people up simply by showing pictures of my kids -- or enjoying pictures of their own children, grandchildren (or even pets). Yes, The innocence of childhood. The unconditional love of a child is one of the greatest joys in life. They love you no matter what. They listen to your advice (well, okay, maybe the older ones don’t). They are passionate about spending time with you. Well, if you can get them to put their iPhones down, that is. Even if it’s a teenager that just sits there playing games on an iPhone, just their presence shows that they care. Nothing warms your heart more so than spending time with children. Often, just seeing them, just being in the same room, even if they are silent, brings a special sort of joy that makes your life feel worth living.

Finding interesting things to do to pass the time.

Personally, this is how I became passionate about writing. I was stuck in my room with severe asthma as a kid. So, wanting to be industrious with my time, I started writing. No allergens on a tablet. I have seen patients doing the same thing. They play cards. They talk with friends and family online. They whittle. They knit. They read. They write. They, fill in the blank. I have seen just about every hobby in the book where I work. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time? Now’s your chance to do it. It’s such a good feeling when you become passionate about something. It’s a great way to help yourself feel good. It’s also a great way of passing the time.

Seeking a higher power.

If you do not believe in God that’s fine. Some of my patients don’t believe either, and we still get along just fine. Still, some of my patients seek God. They ask God for help. And, as one of my patients recently said, “Death is not the end, it’s the beginning. And just knowing that makes it easier to accept.” So, in this way, knowing there is a higher power often helps people find purpose in life. This is true even with a diagnosis of severe COPD.

What to make of this?

Keep in mind I write this based on my observations as a respiratory therapist. I just find that people find ways of coping, regardless of what life tosses at them. And I know there are more ways than what is listed here. This is just a small sample of how people with severe COPD learn to cope.

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