A Different Kind of Ordinary Day.

A Different Kind of Ordinary Day

When most people think of an ordinary day, it consists of taking a shower, getting dressed and leaving for work or school. Most thoughts are focused on building a career or taking care of family. After a full day, it’s time to go home and cook dinner, maybe mow the lawn, and have a fire in the pit out back. Once much of the day has been spent, it is off to bed to get a good night of sleep in anticipation of the next day to start all over again.


This ordinary day scenario is most likely long past for someone dealing with COPD. Even in the early stages, an ordinary day is wrapped around making sure that an episode of being short of breath will not affect the rest of the day. As the disease progresses an ordinary day fills up with breathing treatments, small activities and rest.

It is so hard for friends and family that are not around a COPD patient daily, to understand the limitations. To wrap their mind around it all requires open communication and, in some cases, an open invitation to see what it is really like. We (the caregivers and patients) should not expect friends and family to fully understand all of the limitations in ordinary life if they have never really had a chance to experience what it takes to make it through typical day.

Here is a glimpse into a small part of an ordinary day.

“You really only napped through the night. Sleeping all night hasn’t happened in years. It takes a while to even be able to sit up on the side of the bed once you wake up. Sometimes it might be because you are short of breath, but other times it might be out of depression. Only you (the patient) fully understand what it takes to live this life. Once you have decided to get up, you may need to decide which is more important: going to the bathroom or taking a breathing treatment. A breathing treatment takes 10-20 minutes, depending on the machine. You probably decide to go to the bathroom, so you take a puff off of your inhaler to make it through the process. This is all before the day really even gets started.

You begin to make a series of choices that are so basic it scares you. For this example, maybe you must choose whether or not to shower today or try to get groceries. Most of your friends and family would be horrified to even leave the house without a shower, but the energy that it takes for you to shower would cause you to fight off shortness of breath for hours, making you too tired to leave the house. If you decide to try to get groceries, you will still want to wash off and at least brush your hair, but just doing that could take an hour. Getting dressed could take another thirty minutes to an hour, depending on how severe your shortness of breath is.

Once you are dressed, you will need to get prepared to leave. That will require oxygen and most likely, assistance from your caregiver. You also need to time out your breathing treatment so that you can take it as close to the time you leave as possible. You check and double check that you have your rescue inhaler and spare oxygen. Then you step out into the world that you used to feel prepared to conquer.”

This glimpse into an ordinary day is meant to help someone understand what having COPD means. The only way to really help someone that you love understand is to invite them into your world. Talk about your fears, limitations and concerns. You know the people in your life that would listen. You know the ones that are living on the outside because they are too afraid to ask. Let them in and help them understand. Share articles with them when you don’t have the words, and live life with them. Let them into your ordinary day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net 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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