Setting the Standard
I like to think of myself as not only a patient advocate but a patient obsessed with implementing the gold standard of COPD management. It’s a little like the saying talk the talk…walk the walk. In my mind, this makes me accountable for what I say and do.
As patients, we need to take ownership of our disease and how we manage it. This is a belief that is close to my heart. You will often hear me talk about MY COPD. Saying it’s MY COPD gives me ownership and makes me responsible for how I manage my disease.
Managing COPD should always be a collaboration between a patient and their doctor. Incorporating not only your day to day management of COPD but a COPD action plan for when your symptoms flare up. While some patients may initially find it difficult to take charge of their disease, those who do will overwhelmingly achieve a better quality of life.
For some of you, this message is a familiar one, and you are already managing your disease well. But for others, especially those who are newly diagnosed, this may all be quite foreign. Unfortunately, in an age of health systems under pressure, doctors don’t always have a chance to discuss management strategies with newly diagnosed COPD patients.
If you are a patient without a disease management plan, don’t fear, it’s never too late to start. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the ongoing management of your COPD. In the meantime, you can start to put things in place by learning more about your disease.
Knowledge is the most important part of managing COPD for me. The more knowledge you can obtain about your disease the better equipped you’ll be to manage it properly. COPD is like anything else in life. The more you know about it, the better you are at dealing with it.
My journey with COPD has not always been smooth sailing. Like many patients, I have experienced some nasty exacerbations and periods of poor health. The one experience which led me to believe how important lifestyle factors are when managing COPD was when I stopped managing my disease.
Too much rest
After my first Ironman event, my doctor and I agreed that my body needed to rest and recover. Over the course of three months, I rested my body, which meant that I hardly exercised. I also let my diet slip as I was in a recovery mindset, which I mistakenly thought meant to drop everything that I had been doing previously.
After three months, I returned to my doctor in poor health. I had gained weight and had become very breathless. My doctor and I both agreed that I had taken the whole resting my body way too far. It was time to get back to what I knew worked. I remember my doctor saying, “time for another Ironman”.
Talk the talk, walk the walk
I haven’t made the same mistake again, and regardless of whether I’m training for an event or not, I live by my four pillars – knowledge, medication, nutrition and exercise. I will always talk the talk, as I believe that the way I manage my disease is the Gold Standard for me. My actions will always show that I also walk the walk!
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