Saturday, November 15, 2008

November is National COPD Awareness Month

Sponsored by the U.S. COPD Coalition, November is a time for organizations and communities across the country to increase overall awareness of COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a destructive lung condition that, over time, makes it extremely hard to breathe. As you can imagine, a person suffering from COPD, will eventually become seriously disabled.

Did you know that COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today? The disease kills more than 120,000 Americans each year. And the numbers are increasing.

You can read about it here: COPD Awareness

On a lighter note - Hubby is doing well these days.
There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. So we don't bother looking anymore.
The weather is lousy. Rainy and cold. Usually that's when Hubby feels drained and tired. And we blame the weather.

He's had ups and downs lately, but despite the weather, seems to have regained some of his energy. That's good news and I am treasuring these moments.

The rainy weather pushed me to do some much needed cleaning. I pulled books off shelves, dusting and polishing.
Came across a photo album of our Very First Trip. As I looked at the pics of us 12 or 13 years ago, (playful and happy on a beach in the Caribbean) a strange feeling came over me. It was a feeling of disconnection.
There's Carefree Hubby relaxing on a beach chair in the sand, all by himself. Or Smiling Hubby waving at the camera from the swimming pool.

It's hard to explain. For the past few years, I have gotten used to Hubby being hooked up to his oxygen concentrator. He's either sitting in a chair bundled up in sweaters and long pants (even in summer) or slowly making his way across the room, hunched over with the weight of his tank.

I can barely remember him living a normal life: sitting half-naked on the beach, swimming blithely in the ocean, or sneaking sips of wine from our cooler (beach rules - no alcohol!). It's as if suddenly, he's .....free! How I wish!!
But it's the connection to me that seems odd. Or disconnection. Almost like I want to reach out and catch him before he falls. Weird.

We spend a nice weekend sharing memories of our vacations, holidays and family gatherings. It was wonderful to re-live those carefree happy days, looking back on the relaxed, fun-loving, energetic man I knew - before COPD.

27 comments:

Mom2-2goodboys said...

It's so nice that the two of you can share those happy memories before COPD. Sometimes it's the best way to get through a particularly hard day. For me, there is a simple message in your post today. Make sure you are making happy memories today so that you can remember tomorrow.

Rose said...

This is a disease I'd never even heard of until just a few years ago. I certainly wasn't aware that it was the fourth leading cause of death. Your blog has done so much, Wendy, for making us all aware of the disease and the suffering it can cause, not just for the victim, but for the families as well.

I was struggling to think of a reassuring comment to respond to your feelings, Wendy, but I don't think I could say it any better than Mom2--an inspiring message for all of us.

Grammy said...

I am so glad to here he is doing better. I found that memory's spark new life into them. This weekend my hubby talked more in 2 days than he did all year.The son inlaws were here to deer hunt. And hubby started telling them what to do. And he was awake more than ever. He enjoyed the kids. But now today he is getting sick and back to sleeping. I think he caught a cold from some one. But the 2 days were good ones.
I hope you don't mind me talking about him here on your post.
Grammy

JeanMac said...

Touching post, Wendy.

Carin Fuchs said...

I imagine that you felt - while looking through your old pictures - a bit like you've looked at the pictures of someone else but nevertheless strangly familiar to you. No wonder, everydays realism forced you to see OH as he IS and not how he WAS.
I am sure it is hard to see any good thing about it, but aren't there also a few things about his character OH has shown you and you probably wouldn't know if he did not had COPD? What about the new things you've discovered in yourself? Did you know how strong you could be if the need arises?

I am glad to read that OH is doing fairly well.

Lots of hugs
Carin

Mimi said...

This post really made me misty. I am glad hubs is doing well and you guys were able to relive some happy memories, even if their was a disconnect.

Kanak Hagjer said...

After reading this moving post I went back to many of your older posts, including the one where your husband gets his Driving Licence Renewal in the mail... That was so touching...

I've never heard of COPD before and will check out the link you provided. Thanks.

Amy said...

I don't know that I've ever read a description of your husband's current health with this much detail before. Breathing problems are so devastating to watch in a loved one--I can't even fathom the depth of COPD symptoms. Good thoughts to you both, always, and I'm happy he's feeling okay right now at least.

Abbasgirl said...

Glad he is doing so well. It's funny when the normal becomes a thing of the past and the new normal replaces it.

I have a hard time rememering my mother w/ her real personality not the one Alzheimer's has given her and my dad with get up and go. Our normal is what it is and changes daily.

I prayed Psalm 103 over a friend for years who had COPD, we prayed for God to renew the youth of her lungs like He renewed the youth of the eagle. You may want to give it a try.

Wendy said...

Hi Mary, thank you for your good insight. You are right.

Hi Rose, thank you so much for being here - I value your friendship.

Dear Grammy - you can talk about your hubby any time you want. We are here to share. Share stories and experiences. I am glad you came by. And I'm really glad your hubby had a good weekend. Those are memories you can treasure.

Hi JeanMac - thank you.

Hi Carin - food for thought. I was just thinking how I could post something positive about COPD and I couldn't come up with anything. Has hubby shown any side of himself that he otherwise wouldn't have shown? Not really. I will think more on that, but off the top of my head, he isn't a better person for this illness. Some people are. They were caught up in a rat race or something and a serious illness slows them down, they change for the better, more appreciation of life, etc. etc.
Hubby is still gentle and patient. Doesn't lose his temper and rarely complains. He was like that before and still is.
As for me - well I could write a book! Or a blog! I already have!
Thanks for your support.

Hi Mimi - enjoy your youth.
I still can't quite understand that disconnect thing. I guess it's just that he's changed so much. I'm glad you stopped by.

Hi Kanak - we learn so much from blogging, don't we? Thank you.

Hi Amy - oh yeah, this is a rollercoaster ride, let me tell you. Thanks for your concern.

Hi Abbasgirl, thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Funny you should talk about an eagle. I had a dream that hubby turned into an eagle and flew away.

LK said...

I'm glad that you were able to reconnect through your shared memories. Very touching. I wish you the best.

Ruth said...

Glad your husband is having a bit of a reprieve from his disease. Looking back is always a little bittersweet.

Wendy said...

Hi LK and Ruth,
Thank you for your kind words.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Wendy, I have been wondering how Hubby has been doing. I am so glad to know he is doing well. It is amazing how COPD changes your life. Not just the patient, but all those around him. It is truly life changing.

Bear Naked said...

The only thing that I can think of to post is that both of you are always in my prayers.
May you find some relief from this disease that has interrupted BOTH of your lives so dramatically.

Bear((( )))

beckie said...

Wendy, I am always amazed at your strength. You have so much in your life to complain about (see my posts!) and yet you come across as very serene and so caring of your hubby and others. I will take note!

As Mom says making happy memories to remember is what we should all try to do with each precious day. I hope this better time lasts for a long while. I know they are short and far between. You are always in my thoughts.

Q said...

Dear Wendy,
I so appreciate your honesty. Thank you. Life does give us challenges. COPD is a challenge for both of you. I can hear your voice this morning. I can feel your "far away in another place and time". I do understand a wee bit.
I sometime have the disconnect too. I sometimes look in the mirror and do not recognize myself!
I sometimes go back to where I grew up and look at the family home remembering my bedroom and the times I spent with my sister now gone from this world.
Thank you again for sharing you!
Your dream of Hubby as an eagle touched my heart deeply.
My sister is an eagle.
On eagle wings,
Sherry

Cheryl said...

Dear Wendy....

I suppose we all live in the now.....we go about our everyday life.....
It is strange, I never look at photos, or very rarely.....they always make me feel quite sad and melancholy.......so I put them away.....probably says a lot about me.

I am glad you and hubby were able to share the moment and that at this present time he is resonably well.......

Take care........

white_lilly said...

I have never heard of COPD thank you for your post and for making me aware of this illness. Your memories were beautiful and something precious to hang to.
Sue

Shammickite said...

Happy memories indeed. COPD is nasty. My mother smoked all her life, and developed chronic emphysema. She couldn't walk across the room without holding onto furniture. And there was nothing I could do.

Wendy said...

Hi Morning Glories, thanks for your concern and thanks for popping in. Chronic illness has a way of changing everything.

Hi BearNaked - glad you are feeling better. Thanks for your kind words.

Aww Beckie - that is so sweet of you to say. Some days I do feel serene and others - not at all. You mom is wise. Thanks for being a friend.

Wendy said...

Hi Sherry, I can see your sister is still very much part of you. I hadn't realized how close you were. Thank you for listening.
Thank you for sharing you.
Love & Light

Dear Cheryl, I rarely look back at photos too. This time I am re-arranging and placing photos in an album that should have gone in years ago. It makes me melancholy too. Wishing for a past that will never come again.
Thanks for your good wishes. Hubby continues to do well.

Thanks Sue for popping in. I wish illness like COPD would just go away!

Hi Shammickite - so you know what it feels like too. To be totally helpless while watching your mother struggle. Not fun. Hope you are enjoying the beach. It's nice for me to check out your blog and see your ocean and beach pics.

Thanks For 2 Day said...

Hi Wendy, I just stopped by through a comment you left on Beckie's site. I am sorry to see you are in such a stressful situation. Caregiving full-time is extremely difficult and can take such a toll on you, physically and mentally. It's good you've got others to reach out to.

Glancing through your blog I've seen some wonderful photos. I will come back and look further. I can't spend much time today due to so many things standing in my way. After the holidays may be a really good time for more 'blog-browsing'.

Take care! Jan

Beverly said...

It is strange how life can turn on a dime, or can slowly, without our noticing, have you end up in a place so foreign that we do not even know who we are. I have no idea where this sentence came from...very touching thoughts from you...very wonderful memories.

Mary said...

Dear Wendy,

This is so bittersweet. It must be hard to remember sometimes and I understand the feeling of disconnection.

My Mom suffered from chronic lung disease for about 15 years before she died - the last 7 on oxygen full time. I sat with her often and remembered all the years she was "free". Yes, I understand.

Laugh and smile about the good times with your husband. That's all you can do.

Hugs,
Mary

marmee said...

wendy,
i think reliving old memories was good medicine for you. life never stays the same, there is a flux of change constantly going on. so when something is really good enjoy it. then when things aren't so good know they will change.
i am happy to hear your husband has had some better days. making more memories together is important.
my heart is with you!

Wendy said...

Hi Jan, thanks for stopping in. I really reach out to my blogging friends to help me through this.
Have a good holiday - will chat with you later.

Hi Beverly, I know where that sentence came from - out of my head! It sounds like you are describing my feelings perfectly. I sometimes wonder how I got here, or who this stressed out person is. Hope things are well with you and yours.

Hi Mary - thank you for your kind words and your understanding.

Hi Marmee - you are so wise. Thank you.