The Domino Effect: Impacting Our Loved Ones
How many of us find ourselves in a state of frustration or anger when first diagnosed and faced with all these limitations? How else do we react?
We all react in different ways and our natures will dictate how it plays out. However, as it all unravels, we do need to take time to consider how our reaction effects the ones around us: our family, friends and carers. It can be a vicious cycle – we’re struggling to deal with the changes in our lives which in turn impacts on the people around us. Before we know it the household is under stress and unable to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.
I found managing my COPD was a little like running my business in that, as a patient, it's important to show leadership to those around you. Why? People will generally respond to strength and if you take the lead and be positive about how you manage your condition, the people around you will do the same.
Likewise, if you're not proactive and are not looking after yourself, those same people will start to get frustrated and possibly angry with you. If you've ever gone out of your way to help someone only to see them not make the most of what you've done, you'll know what I mean.
Every now and then, people with COPD need to take a step back and look at how their COPD affects the ones they love. While we don’t want to feel like a burden, the fact is, we rely on others to help out. Now, more than ever, it’s important to communicate with people around you so if there’s any frustrations or anger building, it can be addressed before things get out of hand.
As patients we ask for understanding that we can’t do everything we used to, or that it takes longer to do it, so we need to understand how that impacts loved ones. When I was diagnosed I told my wife that I didn’t want to be treated like an invalid, and just wanted to be treated like anyone else. She found that difficult because a good partner fusses over the person they love. I found that difficult, but have recently come to understand how hard it must be for her.
Dealing With Your Anger
How you deal with anger and frustration can have a bearing on how your COPD journey will go, and how much help you’ll have along the way. People will be willing to help you if you’re willing to help yourself and that’s the reality.
For me, the first step was accepting that I had COPD and my life was going to be different – not bad, just different. I had to change the way I did certain things in day-to-day life. The second step was to learn as much as possible about my disease. By gaining knowledge about COPD, we can better understand its effects on us and put strategies in place to enable us to live a good quality of life.
My wife and I did a lot of reading and investigated different treatment options, some good and some not so good. We never looked at COPD as a death sentence like some people do, we just adjusted our lifestyle to better deal with this disease.
Gaining knowledge cannot be underestimated. Much of the frustration associated with COPD comes from a lack of knowledge, so it's important that when you’re diagnosed with COPD that you ask your doctor for as much information as possible. By doing this, you can begin your journey well-armed and with some direction on how you will deal with what may lay ahead.
We've talked about the strategies we need to put in place in previous articles to make our quality of life better, but before we can we have to gain that knowledge to allow us to do this.