Think in Solutions, Not in Problems
The title of this article is actually a comment written by a member of this community. Her name is Patricia. When I read it, I knew it would make a great article! Thank you, Patricia! Upon doing some research, I realized it is also a popular topic of management seminars but isn’t that what we are? I am a manager of an illness, COPD.
I think it is just part of our nature to get caught up in our difficulties. We focus on them, complain, rage against them, and complain some more. With COPD, there are many. Shortness of breath is the biggest problem, which in turn causes many more. I see comments in various support groups all the time about them. I can’t shower, I can’t walk far, I can’t exercise, cook, eat, or shop. The list is long and I have experienced many on the list.
There isn’t anything wrong with complaining about our symptoms. They are very real and we need to discuss them. I have learned so much about COPD because someone talked about a problem they had. I would not have known about the weather affecting breathing, or solutions to make showering easier. When we constantly whine and stay in self-pity mode, I feel we are doing harm to not just our mental health, but our relationships as well.
Many answers will help provide a better quality of life. As daily tasks become difficult to do, it is necessary to find other ways to complete them. It is great to have help, but it might not always be available. It is also important to be independent for as long as possible. My husband will help with anything I ask. I try not to ask for many chores. Not only do I not want to feel dependent, but it is also better for me to stay as active as possible.
Some of the more difficult tasks like changing the bedding on our king-size bed we do as a team. The fitted sheet is put on the bed by him, but I still put the quilt on and take care of the pillowcases. Almost all my cooking is prepared in the morning when I feel the strongest. Finding long-handled tools for cleaning, cordless scrubbers or lightweight vacuums are just a few of the solutions for housework. I am not a big fan of housework, but it does give me a sense of purpose and accomplishment doing it myself.
Make a problem and solution plan
Many problems arise with COPD. It is not uncommon to have several illnesses, which means many medications. That means a schedule, including doctor’s appointments. If you are on oxygen, is the tubing getting caught on furniture or getting kinked? Bills need to be paid on time. We should all have an exercise routine. Meals need to be shopped for and prepared. How do we fit everything in when we are constantly having to stop and catch our breath?
I suggest getting a notebook and writing everything down. What are you struggling with? If you can’t come up with a solution, ask for advice. Support groups are invaluable sources of information. Don’t be shy. Chances are if you have a problem, others probably do too. I had to find new ways to do just about everything, from showering, cleaning, and dressing to socializing.
Think outside the box if necessary. For example, a pool noodle stuffed under my couch stopped my oxygen tubing from getting caught on it. It sounds like a minor problem, but it frustrated me numerous times throughout the day. It is these simple things that make life with COPD just a little bit better. They add up.
Let’s talk about it
Let’s share some of the problems and solutions we face with COPD in our daily life around our home or workplace. What solutions have you found? What suggestions do you have for other members here? I love hearing from you!
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
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