Thursday, November 8, 2007

Your Life With COPD - Accepting Help

With COPD you may feel less able to do many of the tasks that you have always done for yourself. This can lead to a feeling that you're not "pulling your weight."

People vary in the amount of support they need at different times, and they vary in their ability to accept help. It's important to recognize that, even if it is only from your doctor, you do need help. Finding and accepting that help is an important part of caring for yourself. You may want to take some time to think about accepting help.

* Is there someone who's been trying to help that you've turned down?
* What makes it hard for you to ask for or accept help from others?
* Can you think of other sources of support you haven't utilized? How about support groups? Extended family? Religious community?

Finding and accepting help is an important part of taking good care of yourself.

While you may be the one with COPD, everyone who loves you also suffers from the illness. They suffer because they hate to see you uncomfortable and unable to do the things they know you enjoy. In addition, stress levels can rise as roles change and family goals and plans have to be re-evaluated or changed. Over the course of the illness, you and your family will face different types of challenges and will respond to these with different types of coping actions. Understanding how these coping methods are different and learning when to use each type can help families to deal with the stresses of COPD.

One type of challenge that you and your family will face is an acute one. This is when something happens suddenly that makes the situation worse. Usually, with a short burst of extra effort this situation gets better or can be solved.

The second type of challenge is a chronic one. This is a long standing, slowly progressive problem that is not likely to go away or be "cured." For chronic challenges, the better coping response may be to understand what the loss is for you and your family as a result of this situation. Once you determine this, try to find a way to recover the value of what was lost, rather than hoping to go back to the way it was before.

It's important to recognize that, over time, managing your COPD will require both types of response, sometimes for the same event. For instance, if you become acutely ill at a family event, it may require an acute response, maybe even a trip to the emergency room. Not only will the family be concerned about your well-being, but you will all also be dealing with the disappointment of having to cut short your "play time" together. Once the immediate crisis has passed, you and your family will need to recognize when to relax your vigilance from the crisis and switch to finding a way to manage any changes for the long haul. This may include finding new ways to play together.

Challenge/ Response

At the time of a diagnosis of COPD you will probably experience an initial sadness, fear, anger and guilt. It will help you to talk to your family members, telling them how you feel and sharing their feelings, worries and fears. This is a time of coming together to plan how to proceed as a person with COPD and as a family.

During acute medical events such as infections and hospitalizations you will have increased physical limitations. You will need a lot of help getting things done and are not able to help out the way you used to. Family members rally around, sacrificing time and plans to support you and each other.

You will develop chronic challenges including decreased endurance and a limited ability to participate in many family events. This may cause you to feel lots of frustration and guilt about not fulfilling your role in the family, and difficulty accepting the idea that you may not be able to again. You may want to hold family meetings to talk abou the goals of the family, and of each family member. Try to find a balance between managing the illness and living family life.