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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Getting Around with COPD

Elizabeth's father on a mobile scooterRunning errands was becoming a taxing task for my father. He couldn’t walk and his cane proved insufficient. He felt pressured to keep up and while we slowed down, we worried he might collapse or worse, have an out-of-breath attack.

My dad decided that waiting for us in the car was the best option. There were times we tried convincing him to stay home but his puppy eyes said, “But I want to go, too.”

It’s not easy feeling physically powerless. I empathized.

But one day, my dad had his own Oprah “aha moment.” From the car – as he huffed and puffed – he saw seniors carry groceries in a store scooter. It was love at first sight. It was like when we were kids and we hoped our parents had a quarter so we could jump on the ride at the supermarket entrance. That’s how it was for my dad.   

He grabbed his cane and asked to speak to a manager. Soon, he became the newest “Store Scooter Member” of the month.

It was fun to watch him zip around, turn corners in the aisle, and offer his help: “I’ll take care of getting the milk, bread, eggs, and ice cream. What else do we need?” He enjoyed playing his own version of “Where's Waldo" in the supermarket as he would vanish from our sight within seconds of entering the store. We make it as far as the free sushi samples by the produce section, and poof, he was speeding off.

My favorite is when he pulls up and says, “You’ve disappeared. I’ve been looking for you everywhere.” Then he unknowingly backs up, hits our heels, and more often than not, almost runs us over as he zooms away.  

On a recent trip, we found each other by the ice cream case. I saw him coming and decided to play bumper cars with my cart. “Eh!” he said, not expecting my move. I said, “Do you want your strawberry ice cream?” to which the answer was an obvious “Yes.”

Ready to leave, he almost ran over my feet. Apologetically, he explained, “I’m trying to go forward so I can back-up and make a U-y.” I steered clear of the way. I gasped as he almost knocked over the corner display. Luckily, he quickly used his breaks.

My dad is sure to entertain. That’s why I wear a hat and shades to the local store.    

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About the Author

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