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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Up All Night with COPD

A sleeping lion. Image courtesy of iStockphoto.comEver since I moved back home, our day dramas don’t necessarily end by the time we go to sleep. Between mom’s diabetes and dad’s COPD, sadly there are often frequent nights of midnight scares. However, lately, they have minimized – and I, we, are grateful.

But every night, I keep my door open or at the most, ajar, so I can be on the “hear-out.” You’ve no idea how close I have come to buying a baby monitor and secretly installing it in their bedroom. But with their loud-enough-so-I-can-hear coughs, I can save the money, even if it’s on sale.

My mother, an ex-smoker, quit 27 years ago this year, come early November. Yet between her own social smoking and second-hand smoke, she still has the remains in her lungs. Sometimes, they take turns coughing as they lay in bed, hopeful R.E.M. turns into real sleep.

But for the most part, it is my father’s cough that scares me. A few times, I’ve had to get water for him so he can ease his throat and clear the gurgles that form. Often, it’s not just one cough for him, it is a succession that like an opera singer, keeps going, in crescendo form. There are times that in the middle of the night, his cough not only awakens him, but mom and me as well.

Then, he awakes rather early, from 6am to 8am, and every morning, his lungs beg for a cough release, almost as if it is their yoga time to release and stretch those muscles. The morning is the worst for him. It is literally about a 5-minute phlegm discharge regimen before his cough calms down.

I lay in bed, asleep, but with one ear perked up, just like a Great Dane.

Over coffee, I usually ask my parents how they slept as I know there is snoring, sleep talking, and of course, the cough. My mother says, “You know how it is. What can you do?”

Luckily, when possible, they take short naps during the day to recover some rest.

And naturally, I searched online about COPD and sleeping and read this short article that reports on the effects COPD has during sleep. It was a “check” on most of the items.

I shared it with my father. His response? “I’m fine. I sleep through the night and nothing bothers me. Ask your mother. I sleep like a lion.”






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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.