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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm featured on COPD News of the Day

This is respiratory therapy week. I remember one time in the past 11 years that my hospital celebrated this, and that was when the RT Cave made preparations and threw its own party.

To be honest, it's really not too big a deal, it's just nice to be noticed once in a while. I imagine that a certain level of appreciation is the whole purpose of weeks that celebrate a profession -- like RT week.

Plus, I think the fact that my hospital never misses an opportunity to celebrate RN week causes some RTs to feel left out when RT week is not celebrated, or at least some form of appreciation provided.

One thing we RTs know for sure, though, is that while our administration may not appreciate us, there is a certain core group of patients who do. A wise person once wrote that the greatest joys of life come from acts of giving or heroism that receive no reward. It's the pride in knowing you did something good that brings the greatest joy.

So when Karen Bastille emailed me and told me that she was going to celebrate RT week on her blog, COPD News of the Day, and that she wanted me to write a guest post, I was more than thrilled to write something for her.

Of course you guys know by now I am an asthmatic. When I was a kid I was a severe asthmatic. And, since the number of asthma patients has declined due to excellent education and scientific breakthroughs in medicine, the only patients left for me to empathize with are our COPDers.

I know for a fact that no group of patients appreciate their RTs more than emphysema and chronic bronchichitis (COPD) patients. And while some times they can be challenging, there is also no more enjoyable patient to care for than COPDers.

Just the other day I had a COPD patient who called for a treatment every two hours because he had coughing jags. Then sometimes he'd call for a treatment in between treatments because he rolled over in bed or had to pee and became dyspneic. In that sense, these patients can be a lot of work.

And then you have the clock watchers. These are the infamous COPD patients who watch the clock and demand that they have their breathing treatments every four hours on the DOT. If you are late, you will get a page.

Considering I work alone, I usually have enough respect for these patient to leave an extra amp of Albuterol or Xoponex or Duoneb with the patients nebulizer just in case I can't make it to their room. Usually I have the nurse give the treatment. Once I had a patient who insisted on giving himself a treatment.

While some are demanding, the majority of COPD patients love to talk. And, as an asthmatic who has gone through the short-of-breath process before, I understand why they love to talk.

I think there is nothing worse than not being able to breathe. If nothing else, this is the one basic part of life that 90% of us take for granted every day. We go about our lives, do what we do, and never think of breathing. That's the way it's supposed to be.

But then we become short of breath, and we are so miserable for so long, gasping and panting and concentrating on each heavy breathe praying that this will not be our last. You get to the point you can't even take in a quarter of a breath. You are completely miserable.

And then, all of a sudden, after a bronchodilator breathing treatment (or in my case when I was a kid an epinephrine shot), we can take in a nice deep and normal breath. Then you go through the vulnerable phase.

You assure yourself that you will do every thing right for now on. YOU NEVER WANT TO FEEL THAT MISERABLE AGAIN. But you know you will at some point.

You may even do something stupid like start smoking again, even though you insist while you are in the vulnerable phase that you won't. Or, like I did more than a few times before I finally learned my lesson the hard way, you might simply stop taking your medicines when you feel good.

The fact that you know this will happen again, and the fact that you felt so miserable and now feel so vulnerable, brings about this state of euphoria. You are just exceptionally happy. You are exceptionally productive after a short of breath episode.

I know this, because after I spend weeks in the hospital, I used to go home and have my home spotless in less than 24 hours, and then I'd spend hours writing in my journal telling my story because I had this unending desire to share my experience, to share my life story.

And that I think -- that euphoric feeling coupled with vulnerability -- is the reason that COPD patients love to talk. As an RT, I have learned more about the lives of COPD patients than any other. They want to share it all.

There have been many slow nights at Shoreline medical where I have stayed up late visiting with a friendly and talkative COPD patient.

So when Karen emailed me that she wanted me to write a guest post, I decided to write about one of my favorite all time COPD patients, who I think tends to be a composite character for most COPD patients.

Her name was Mrs. Flowers, and she was always working on a quilt. I have lost count of how many COPD patients I have had who constantly have a project going because they love life so much and want to share thier talents. But there have been many, just as there have been many-a-COPDer who loves to share his or her life experience.

So, click right here and I will morph you on over to COPD News of the Day. A great blog for COPD patients by a COPD patient who is doing a great thing by sharing her COPD wisdom.

Likewise, you can click here and you can read about the five different types of COPD patients.


Wendy said...

Congratulations on being featured on Karin's blog! Will hop on over there and check it out.
Happy RT week! I'm sure you've earned a huge piece of cake, a glass of wine and many many good cooperative patients.

Freadom said...

No prize for me this week as I have the whole week off.