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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 Dad to the Doctor

Elizabeth Santeramo's father getting a check-upMy father hates going to the doctor. I use creative ways to get him to commit. I made a deal with him to treat him to strawberry ice cream, I offer to buy him extra bananas, and my favorite, I dangle a carrot by reminding him that his doctor gives free samples.

The latter gets him.

A May study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine advises that “when it comes to successfully managing COPD, nothing can replace a great relationship with an experienced physician.”

When we moved to New Jersey, my parents had to search for a new doctor. They not only found a bright physician, they found a friend. And so did I.

My parents beam, saying, “We talk about soccer the whole time and then we talk health." It works, and I’m relieved my father is comfortable enough to tell Dr. Sidali what is going on for him health-wise.

Last week, our doctor reminded us how fortunate my father is to be managing his COPD – not needing repeated hospitalizations or even an oxygen tank. My dad’s ears perked up. As a family caretaker, I let out a big sigh. Just listening to my father as he struggles for breath and watching him frown as he moves around in pain, triggers the anticipation that “this is it,” and soon I will need to make that “call” for emergency care. It can be overwhelming, but I remember to take it one breath at a time; his and mine.

I was surprised to hear my father admit, “Doctor, I am feeling the effects. When I awake, my cough is terrible and I feel I can’t breathe.” Patiently, our doctor explained once again how dysfunctional his lungs have become, emphasizing that the best thing he can do is to quit smoking.

I used to work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where we stressed the importance of researching your treatment options, finding support, and preparing a list of questions for your next visit. But the relationship between a patient and their doctor is just as important. 

Whether you are a caretaker or seeking medical treatment for yourself,  I found this quiz that you may want to take to get a better sense of where your loved one (and even yourself) is in the realm of the patient-doctor relationship.

For COPD sufferers and caregivers, these articles may help you as well:

Working With Your Doctor to Manage COPD and Five Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Your COPD Treatment.

(During our visit, I asked, “Dr. Sidali, do we get lollipops for being such good patients?”)


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.