Helping My Mom with COPD

My birthday was a few months back, and with it, memories of mom. She was always the first phone call, telling me how happy she was to have her first daughter in April. I recently talked with the staff at about my experience helping mom with COPD. I wondered if my understanding of the highs and lows of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease might benefit you. They said yes! It is with great joy that I offer up stories of my mom.

My mother's experience

Let me start by telling you she was a heavy smoker from her early teen years. She quit more times than anyone I have ever known. Sometimes she quit for 5 minutes, but in the end, she stayed smoke free for 14 years. She was so proud of that. She stopped for good the year she hit 60.

I advocated for her based on her past

After a couple of extra scary hospitalizations, she was finally able to take all the tricks she had used in the past and make them work for her. She would tell you that’s the reason she got another 14 great years out of life with lung disease. COPD hit in her 50s, although she had many symptoms before she was actually diagnosed. First, she got to the point where going for a walk was difficult. Soon, she was not able to be around the wonderful smelling candles and perfumes she always enjoyed. When she became short of breath more frequently, and then began to have coughing spasms. I took her to the doctor and pressed for an official diagnosis.

Getting the help she needed

She wanted help but was afraid to know the truth. Mom was fairly open about what she was going through, but she was also scared of hearing a doctor say it. All on her own, she found some of the first COPD forums on the internet. I believe that is one of the things that helped her the most. She ended up starting a small web site, and it was a gathering place for her online friends back in the late 90's.

Seeking online support and comfort

The COPD online family was very caring from the beginning. Being fatigued, or confined to a chair didn’t stop them. They were all connected through their computer screen. They checked on each other every day. She even kept me posted on the events in their lives. It was a tight knit community where she felt accepted, understood, and encouraged. They talked about loneliness, isolation, and depression. They shared funny stories and cartoons. They even traveled and visited one another. Through the years, mom and I had our share of arguments. We always laughed and made up in the end. That is one of the things I admired most about her. She tried to enjoy every minute of life after her diagnosis with COPD.

Birthdays are a common denominator in life. We’ve all got one… and we’ve all got a mom. I’m thankful to mine for bringing me into the world. Now I’m the same age mom was when she quit smoking for good. Looking back, I’m grateful for the times we had. Helping mom with COPD left many memories - and also lessons about what is important in life. She would be so proud that our journey with oxygen canisters, medications, and the love we shared is inspiring others to stay strong with COPD.

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