Having a Social Life with COPD
After reading this title and topic I was just imagining all of the “yeah right” that some of you might be saying. I know that kind of tweaked at mind too.
Are you a social person that enjoys being with others? That enjoys going to birthday parties or other get-togethers? Are you a person that has noticed a change since you have been diagnosed with COPD?
For those that don’t know, COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is a chronic illness that affects the lungs and the third leading cause of death in the United States. In early stages of COPD, you might be able to do things, to go to events and even participate. You may get short of breath or even cough, but if you are still able to enjoy in the festivities, go out and celebrate! You are building wonderful memories for you and yours.
Making adjustments in your social life
In Stages 2 and 3, you might notice a change in yourself and what you are physically experiencing. Some of you are still able to get out and enjoy a social life. You might be able to do some things, that others may have to avoid. They can leave a person short of breath or even cause coughing. This is a time when you may have to “think green” and avoid chemicals and cleaning products at home.
Recognize your triggers before you leave the house
It can be more difficult out in public because you have no control over the products that they use. If you are going to visit a family member or friend, talk to them, maybe they will be understanding when you ask them not to have candles burning or air fresheners plugged in when you go to visit. You may have to change from your favorite restaurant and go to another because they use highly scented cleaning products that are affecting you and your breathing. Are you able to go to the cosmetic counters in the store?
Leave those triggers at the door when you return
It’s wonderful if you can and if you enjoy, if you can’t, you are like so many. Perfumes and highly scented products can really affect a person and their breathing. Once those scents are in your house, it’s hard to remove them and you will continue to breathe them. Try to stop them at the door. Think for a minute, what are you feeling? Experiencing? Is there something that you can do different? Are there changes that need to be made? Think of your social life, have you noticed a change in how you feel about going out or being around people. Even having people come to your own home. How are you when people come to visit? Have you or your family members had to change shampoos or other products? Have you had to tell others to come scent-free? Maybe you haven’t experienced physical responses to being out and about with others. That would be wonderful!
Friends and family should understand
I always wonder, have you noticed a change in other people’s response to you? Do they seem to understand you and your disease? Do they accept you? So often I hear about how people are excluded from events. That can be so hard, because we as people are meant to be social, to have others in our lives. I told my family that even though I might not be able to make it to some events, please invite me, let me be part of it, even if I can’t be there. What a blessing, that they now send photos. I should say they send or post on Facebook. That’s ok, it’s wonderful and a shared experience.
Do what's best for you
In the final stages, you may notice more changes in your health. There are some people that are able to get out and about. They can still do family things and others that don’t leave home. Those that do get out have found it’s often best to use your nebulizer before leaving home. They carry a nebulizer with them in their cars in case it’s needed. A rescue inhaler should always be carried. For some the social life continues even though the pace has slowed. For some they are having more trouble getting around. Some have worried about having to go to assisted living, but so happy to be there because there are so many people around that they can socialize with.
You are unique in your condition and journey
For others, they struggle with emotions as they need to wear oxygen. It’s so important that you realize that no two people are alike, you are unique in your own disease. You are possibly being treated for other illnesses or diseases. You may be taking different medications. You may be on a different diet, or even a different lifestyle. So what you can do is likely unique to you, though similar to others. That hopefully helps you to understand and realize the differences. How wonderful though, the people that we meet along the way, that are part of our journey of life.
No matter what your stage, or where you are in your journey, celebrate life! Even if you can’t get out and socialize, do what you can. Even here on COPD.net you are able to share you. Remember, you are also building memories for you and yours. Maybe others you meet along the way.
How has your experience been navigating the healthcare system as someone with COPD?