Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Welcome to My Family

Me and my dad, the

If you are caring for someone with COPD, you have come to the right place. If you know someone with COPD, I am sure you will find something of value here.

My hope with this blog, with this “caring column,” is that you will find respite in your busy day as you follow me on my day-to-day journey of living at home as I share the silly and the serious. Caring for my father who has COPD from a 70-year-plus smoking career is not easy. But his quirkiness makes me laugh and instead of losing patience with him, I smile at him, realizing that at times, he truly lives in his own world. Understanding this helps relieve the stress and pressure I face.

I want you to laugh with me, question with me, and walk away knowing you are not the only one trying to balance caretaking and your own life’s demands. Being part of the sandwich generation is challenging and caring for my debilitated "Italian hero" can be overwhelming. And it’s not only COPD that afflicts him. My father is a recovering alcoholic, sober for 27 years. He also suffers from emphysema, arthritis, chronic depression and is on meds for bipolar disorder. Other than this, the Argentine-Italian blood coarsing through his veins has him stallion-healthy. Can you believe he doesn’t have an oxygen tank? I still can’t. He truly is my Italian hero – my father, the walking, breathing miracle.

I also care for my mother – although she would disagree – and her myriad health problems, which stem from 42 years of insulin-dependent diabetes. The great thing about her is that she truly defines the "mind over matter" adage. She does not let her illness define or detain her. She also cares for my father as she handles her own health issues and at times I have to remind her that she needs to stop and not overdo it. We all have our limits, healthy or not.

An only adult child, I moved back home in my late 30s. I am soon turning 42 and still living at home. I don’t know what destiny holds for me, but for now, I am where I am supposed to be. I came back because mom’s sugar was dropping in the middle of the night as she grieved the loss of her parents who died 11 months apart. My dad asked me to help him help her. I ended up staying because I realized he needed me, too.

My wish is for you to take away a moment’s peace of mind. I want this blog to be a meditation, your mini mental massage, allowing you to let out a big sigh of relief at word’s end. And yes, you’re allowed to laugh at me, at us. Knowing you’re better off than we are will surely make you feel better.

The key thing I have to remember when I care for those around me is not to forget to care for myself. I am reminded that if I do not nourish my mind, body and spirit, then how can I give to others what I do not have for myself? As a child of the self-help movement, my spirituality and faith help me get through all things. Everything falls into place so long as “I take the action and let go of the result.”

So far, it works for me. And I hope it will work for you, too.

Follow Elizabeth's story on Twitter: @lizunga

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About the Author

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