A fruitcake, cup of eggnog, and a variety of presents surround a computer screen with a video chat icon.

Planning for the COPD Holidays

My daughter and I were talking about how much I enjoy writing articles and moderating for Health Union. It feels healing to share my life with you and others who have, or know someone who has, COPD and other health issues.

Deciding what to write

Sometimes it's a challenge to decide what to write about. How nice that we hear what our members would like to read or even to discuss. You see, this is for all of us, this is especially for you.

Back to my discussion with my daughter ... she said, "I know what you can write about. Christmas! Gifts that you want! Thanksgiving. The Holidays! What you can do and what you can’t. Write it down so everybody knows!"

I told her that I think I did that last year and maybe the year before. She said, "well, you say that every day is different and things always change, so you need to do it again." That’s true, things do differ. So, let’s write it down again!

Different limitations

I, along with so many others have COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This disease affects the lungs by obstructing the airflow. There are 4 stages of COPD and it affects each of us differently.

Some of us might have different limitations, different abilities to do things, even our ability to breathe. It's important that we plan ahead. We might have difficulty breathing or even just feel COPD sick.

This can include an exacerbation, pneumonia, bronchitis, tiredness, and other illnesses that we might encounter. Even the lingering thought that we aren’t feeling the best.

Ask for pictures

Prepare to go, even if you have to cancel. It’s exciting to plan and hopefully, others think so too. If you have to cancel, ask friends and family to take pictures and send them to you or facetime. I find it's best to ask the teens or preteens to take pictures - they love to do that and to share!

Be good to yourself even if you get your hopes up and have to cancel. I've had to turn down too many birthday parties, holidays, and even just plain old lunch plans. Try to let it go. No one can change the past. We can only change what we think of it.

My granddaughter and her beau are taking a week-long vacation. They are so wonderful, they send me a photo, or more, every day. One of my favorites was clothes in the laundromat dryer. What a memory that is. Something so unique. It’s so very nice that we were invited, regardless.

Trouble with online shopping

Because of our large family, it’s a tradition here to start shopping early. My daughter likes Black Friday shopping, but because of allergies, COPD triggers, and large crowds, I haven’t been able to go out and do store shopping for a long time. I miss the touch, feel and smell of things.

Now though, everything is online. Easy access to shopping is really nice, but it’s hard not knowing what things actually look, feel, and even smell like. I have ordered things that were not as advertised. When I received an adorable remote stuffed shark, it was so disappointing. It was a hard and useless toy for 3 little grandsons.

They were expensive for what I got. I gave up trying to get my money back. All went to one older grandson to share with his friends. I've learned that what you see, isn't necessarily what you will get. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If any package has a smell, my husband airs it out, outside or in the garage. He usually catches everything at the door. Too often packages smell like perfumes and some other scent. Sometimes you will find that in the inner packaging as well.

Feeling overwhelmed

Online Black Friday shopping can be overwhelming too. I think my brain is too slow to juggle so many sites and ideas for the best deals. As our family wish lists come in, which are so nice and helpful, I can take my time. It's really more enjoyable that way anyway.

It’s important not to get overwhelmed. It’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to ask for help. The last couple of years, I did let things get to me, even the things that I could not control. It led to depression.

COVID was affecting so many. Finances were slight. Getting together with family wasn’t happening. Looking online to find something for gifts or craft items, that I could make, was for naught.

Avoiding crowds

Because of COVID, the scents, and too many people, it isn't always safe to go out into the crowds. It can also be difficult traveling to bigger towns, stores, and more. Shopping online was the only way, but many items were unavailable or too expensive.

My husband and I talked and we decided it was okay not to do anything. I found small items I could use as gifts - even some of the new craft items I knew they would enjoy. I gave them to some of my family crafters, especially paints.

Some gifts were late. It didn’t feel good to me, but that was the best it could be and they were loving when I finally did see them again.

This year will hopefully be different. You see, we have 18 grandkids so I plan on doing something special.

Remembering loved ones

We will also remember our angel grandbaby, Baby Max. We will pray for our granddaughter, Morgan Bauer who has been missing for 5-plus years.

With our adult children and all spouses, there is a total of 32 people in our family, well 34 with my husband and me.

In March we will be blessed with our first great-grandchild. What a wonderful family we have!
The difficulty that I had for the past couple of holidays was loneliness. My husband and I made the best of the days and celebrated all alone.

I can’t forget our pups. My kids like to say that my pups are my favorite children. I always respond that they are. They never talk back. I lied because they sure can talk back, lol!

Building memories

We did enjoy our holidays last year. It was memorable because we took the time for ourselves. My hubby and I enjoyed movies and eating snacks. Facetiming was so fun when we could talk to our children and grandchildren. We made memories regardless.

That is what's most important and where I’m at now - wanting to make memories. I’m hopeful and sure I will be grateful too when the holidays come.

Thinking back about 10 years, I worked ambulance and my husband was a deputy sheriff. It seemed we always had to work. We would try to eat in a restaurant, yet often got called out. There wasn't time to think. We were busy and we were doing something that made a difference.

Spending time together

We know that we will survive whatever happens. Any day is a holiday when we are together. We can watch one of our sons carve a turkey or watch another cook a steak on the barbecue. That's building memories. My favorite thing to do.

Watching our family opening gifts, seeing the kids playing with new toys, and even seeing a dog chewing a new bone ... memories. We made memories with everyone we talked to and got to watch. That completed us as best as it could be.

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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 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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