Maintaining Friendships With COPD

Maintaining friendships with COPD, sounds easy, right? COPDers will often say no.
Thinking back to being sick, before diagnosed with COPD, we often spent time with the people that I worked with and my husband’s friends. In the off time we hiked, hunted, fished, rode the 4-wheeler and enjoyed being outside.

When I began to have problems with shortness of breath and low O2, the docs tested me. After testing, I have numerous severe allergies and asthma.

 I struggle with scents, smoke and environmental issues.

It upset people when I removed air fresheners at work or asked that shedding dogs not be on the couch. Before long, we moved back where I grew up. About a year later, we moved back to our town on the river, where hubby got his old job back.

During this time, I went to National Jewish and was diagnosed with COPD. It was difficult to explain to people. I have other multiple health issues: some of which affects my breathing, lungs and COPD. A few years later, the Mayo Clinic said they think that my COPD is triggered by my severe allergies. People who were friends stopped coming, because I can’t tolerate the scents most of them wear.

People are afraid I’ll have an allergic reaction or trigger an exacerbation.

We tried phone calls or chatting on the internet, but that was short lived. It seemed after that everyone wanted to know how I was feeling, if I was ok. A few even said I was dying. Ha! No way was I dying yet! With some phone calls people couldn’t understand me because my voice would be raspy when I talked. It got so people judged how I was feeling by how my voice sounded. Phone calls became less.

Sadly, it got so that I didn’t often call people either, because I didn’t want to talk about how I was feeling, I live it. I wanted to talk about something fun and “normal.” I am grateful to those who include us, my hubby and me, by sending invitations to weddings, birthdays, and other events, even knowing that I can’t be there. It feels like we’re part of things.

Over time, I haven’t been able to fish, hunt or hike anymore. These are the things my husband and I enjoyed doing. It’s such a struggle with dust, humidity and fire pits to name a few. My hubby now goes with friends or alone.

Scented products that people wear public or service station restrooms wreak havoc with my body.

If only I didn’t have to inhale. I don’t travel well. Even back pain, affects my breathing. As my husband says, I go anywhere and I’m in bed for 3 days, two of which I sleep. It’s all I want to do is sleep. If it lasts longer, I end up seeing the doctor and get a prescription of prednisone and Levaquin. My house has become a bubble and signs are on the doors, “Don’t come in if you are wearing scented products.”

Some people still ask how I’m doing, and are quick to say they can’t visit because they are afraid they will trigger a reaction. Most family members are good and come scentless. For those who forget, we sit outside, in the garage, or a restaurant. The reason they can’t come in is that I keep having reactions because the scents stay in this house and I keep reacting. Axe cologne is the absolute worst and put me in the doctor’s office and ER.

So now, there are others who don’t stop, or they’ll meet my husband someplace. I’ve learned too that the garage isn’t a good place to breathe because of the mower, 4-wheeler and other items that use gas or chemicals. Awareness is key.

I give thanks for the internet.

It’s brought back some old family and friends. Many new friends as well. Because of COPD sites, the world has opened to those who experience similar health issues and friendships. There is peace in this understanding. There are times however, when I put Facebook away, because it can all get overwhelming with drama. Breaks are good.

If it weren’t for 3 shih tzus and a bichipoo, it would be very lonely. They are 1 ½ to 9 years old and keep me active with opening and closing doors, getting treats and just looking to be petted when we sit and watch tv. We walk and play in the house.

My husband is wonderful, I couldn’t ask for a better friend. Our family as well. It’s always a highlight when they send pics of a birthday party or other event. Another bonus to the internet is I can grab those published pictures.

Maintaining face to face friendships with COPD… not so much. There are days when it hurts. Yet, I am grateful to the internet that brings us together. More so, I’m so grateful to our families for that personal face-to-face time.

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