One Breath at a Time
One Breath at a Time

As a caregiver to a loved one with COPD, Holly McBain offers a unique insight into the trials and tribulations this disease has on the patient, the caregiver, and immediate family. Over the course of time, Holly and her mother have encountered a wide swath of issues concerning the disease and its effects on the patient and how it also affects the caregiver.

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Handling the Anti-Oxygen Phenomenon

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As a caregiver to someone with COPD who is required to be on oxygen 24/7, I sometimes encounter the “I no longer need Oxygen” or “I no longer need this medicine” phenomenon. This generally happens every time my Mother feels good for a while. What I mean by “feels good” is she hasn’t had an exacerbation for a few months, no allergy issues, and she feels stronger and more capable.

The conversation usually begins with her saying she feels great and can breathe easier and is able to go without her oxygen sometimes. I explain that although she feels good, she has to stay on her oxygen because her lungs are not able to convert a sufficient amount of oxygen into her bloodstream without the extra O2. She will then proceed to tell me how she doesn’t feel any bad indications without her oxygen and therefore she can wean off of it.

Yes, you read that right – “wean off of it”. Of course she will really not have any indications of low oxygenation levels in her bloodstream until she is about to pass out. I am being a little melodramatic but if I explained to her the actual symptoms of low O2 levels in the blood she would then proceed to harass me about how she is not having any short-term memory loss or light-headedness.

I know that this is all just a phenomenon of her wanting to free herself from her medical treatment shackles; however that is not going to happen. I have explained in detail the chronic nature of COPD and that it doesn’t go away or get better and that unfortunately one day she may succumb to it. I always feel incredibly terrible when I have to take her down this path because she is my Mother and I do not want to hurt or upset her. But when she gets on this kick of believing she no longer needs oxygen to live, it always ends with me having to rehash the harshness and inevitability of this chronic disease.

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Tags: Caregiver Tips , Caregiving in Your Home , Consider the Patient Too

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About the Author

Since a COPD diagnosis in 2006, Holly has served as the caregiver for her mother Joan.

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