Select Page

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~


Everyone is faced with choices … sadly, many of our choices result from fear. When the sun comes up and we see that the noise outside the cave was actually a bunny, rather than a dragon, wonderful! If it does turn out to be a dragon, we can then do some planning start to figure out how to deal with it.


We might not like what the doctor has to say, but his diagnosis will give us knowledge, options, medications, and a PLAN! Or, of course, we can continue to huddle in that cave, making ourselves miserable, making those who love us miserable, giving in to anxiety and depression.


You should keep your surroundings as healthy as possible. If you are reading this, you or someone close to you has breathing issues, and those issues can be worsened by dust, smoke, mold, chemicals and any number of other irritants. De-clutter your environment. It not only looks better, it gives you or your caregiver less to dust and clean.

Build yourself a nest! Pick your favorite chair and gather the stuff that you need to stay comfortable. The TV remote, a glass of water, tissues, the telephone, your laptop or tablet, a note pad and pencil, and reading material should be within easy reach. The point is not to grow roots, but rather to conserve your energies for stuff that you want to do.


As lung disease progresses, it is not uncommon for the size of the lungs to expand, compensating for their inefficiency. When that happens, there is less room for a full tummy. Eating a big meal can result in discomfort and shortness of breath, so learn to graze. Eat five or six small meals a day.


The increased humidity bothers some people with lung problems, and others find it difficult to raise their arms comfortably to wash and rinse their hair. If you are on oxygen, crank it up a notch and run the hose over the shower rod. Try a shower chair. Try sitting down or using an absorbent robe to dry yourself. Beware of scented toiletries. Use the exhaust fan to decrease humidity and to dissipate the fumes from deodorant, hair spray and the like.


We discovered early on that the absolute worst thing that I could do was to get all disorganized, begin running late for an appointment, and try to hurry! Shortness of breath would be followed by frustration, anger and despair. Not good for anyone involved …


Everyone has issues. The issues may be financial or political, personal or professional. They may involve family, friends, environment or health. Just to keep life interesting, many people deal with two or more of these issues on a regular basis. The attitude with which you view your particular conundrums will affect your life in ways that you cannot even imagine!


Lastly, exercise. (You knew that I would get there eventually.) The stubbornness of which I spoke above gets me onto the treadmill or the exercise bike or the stair-stepper six days a week. I honestly feel guilty if I miss a day for some reason. I use exercise bands to do upper body work, and play golf when I can. Playing golf while wearing supplemental oxygen is an exercise in patience, but it can be done.

All of the above suggestions will help you get through your day, but they all need your involvement. Therein lie the choices. You can do nothing, continue to struggle with your daily challenges, or you can choose to make a few changes and improve your life and that of those who love you.

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them. 

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE by visiting or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.