LLOYD FFRENCH (Guest post) 

Well firstly, I want to start this by saying by no means am I an expert of COPD or any respiratory condition for that matter, but I wanted to put together a post about what it’s like to be indirectly linked with the condition especially when it concerns a loved one.

When I had first met Kim, she was an incredibly active individual who shared a passion for exercise and routinely went to the gym, yoga, dance classes. This was something we both shared a passion for and in fact I used to use my Virgin guest passes so we could enjoy these activities together. A year or so later, this all dramatically changed when Kim started to really suffer with her breathing and at times I felt helpless as it can be incredibly difficult to see another human being suffer without any ability to help that person, never mind when this person is a loved one.

One blessing which did come through all the hospital trips, sleepless nights, tears, stress was the realisation that without good health everything else has little precedence. I’m glad I’ve been able to experience this at a younger age as even though we all have those relentless ambitions of achieving feats like travelling the world, reaching the top of the career ladder, attaining a wonderful home and having the best that life can offer. This all fades with little existence if you don’t have the close ones to share this with and even more so if you do not feel well in yourself whether that be physically or psychologically.

To all those partners, siblings, parents, children, carers, friends who have somebody close that suffers with a chronic condition, I hope that the small pieces of advice I can offer provides some comfort.

Again, I want to preclude this section by saying I do not have any medical experience or extensive knowledge of respiratory conditions but I would hope that these pieces of advice can help those who are juggling with the stress of seeing somebody battle a health problem:

  • Be positive – this goes without saying but everybody has bad days and at times it can be difficult to juggle daily struggles, as well as being an anchor for that loved one. Remember work will always be there one way or another. Do not prioritise a task you may have for the following day over that loved one. We are all human beings and if your boss doesn’t have the empathy to understand, I’d say you’re in the wrong place!
  • Be aware of limitations – an example I can give here first-hand, I’m 6ft 3 and have power-walked like a gazelle since I can remember. Now with Kim’s condition I have made a conscious effort to walk at a much slower pace even if I do feel like a caged bird! There are many limitations respiratory sufferers incur: movement, eating, rigorous activities it’s all about gaining an understanding of this and adjusting the little things to help out.
  • Build your knowledge – the more insight you can gain into the condition, gives you a better skill-set to help that person deal with it. Try do some research about alternative therapies, medicine, diet, exercise and anything which may be helpful. Once you start to discover things, encourage that loved one to try it out and support them with it! The one which springs to mind here for me is, I saw a noticeable impact the condition was having on Kim’s weight as the body is using up it’s calories at an accelerated rate thus weight loss Is a common side effect which can happen. As a result, I started to look at weight gain supplements and bought Kim ‘Complan’ which is really helping her keep on top making sure she has nutrients to keep battling away!

The last piece of advice I’d give is – even though this person may have a chronic condition and it does limit them in some ways, they are still a human being with the same aspirations and enjoyment as you. Try to live life as normal and go about it as you would, it can actually be debilitating for that loved one if you start to treat them like they cannot go about life as a regular person would.

P.S All this being said – Mountain climbing/Marathons probably aren’t the best idea 😊