Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~
Loneliness is the stuff of which country-western songs are made. It is an emotion, a feeling that we all have experienced, whether we are in a crowd or in fact alone. Why must we feel the longing for companionship, the hollow feeling that drives us to seek the company of others?
There is some validity to the theory that we developed the feelings of loneliness as a defense mechanism early in human history. Isolation, according to the theory, might have brought with it an uneasy feeling, a longing for the company and the safety of others. Those who developed that feeling, who heeded it, likely survived to propagate, to pass that emotion on to later generations.
But what of today? We now find ourselves isolated, sequestered, hunkered down to an extent that few of us have ever experienced … the whole coronavirus pandemic has forced us into situations that easily breed feelings of loneliness. If you are living alone, it is likely that feelings of loneliness will creep into your consciousness. Given the restrictions of today’s world, the chances of alleviating those emotions are limited, at best. So, what to do?
We are seemingly doing everything on a virtual basis these days, so it would seem logical to use technology to alleviate our solitary situation. The phone itself works quite well to reach out to others. A conversation every day or every other day or whatever can do wonders. In addition, today’s phones allow an easy transition to video calling, real Dick Tracy wrist radio stuff! Then, applications such as Zoom and Bluejeans and such allow us to communicate with, work with, enjoy a group of friends. The procedure may seem daunting at first, but if I can do it … you can too!
I write for, and am a member of, several online support groups. Over the years of my COPD and lung transplant, they were and continue to be valuable sources of information and support. Several of them require their approval for your membership, but they are generally welcoming to new members. Some of my favorites are:
- COPD Navigator ~ On Facebook search for “COPD Navigator” or click this link to connect.
- Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness Foundation ~ Visit the website by clicking this link or find them on Facebook by clicking this link.
- COPD Foundation ~ Visit their website by clicking this link or their Facebook page by clicking this link. They also have an online community called COPD360social. Click this link to learn more.
- Righr2Breathe ~ This is a great group, founded in part by Joe Morrison. Joe grew up in drag racing with his dad, and became a driver. After his father’s death from COPD, Joe continued racing, and recently won his Double A Fueler license. Along the way, he and a good friend formed Right2Breathe, an online community group that holds twice-a month online seminars. Right now, the meetings are composed of mostly COPD advocates, but we are looking for new participants. Visit their website by clicking this link or find them on Facebook by clicking this link.
- EFFORTS ~ Visit Emphysema Foundation For Our Right To Survive online by clicking this link. Access educational materials, support groups and more.
If you are in the company of family or friends, there is still a chance that you will feel the pangs of loneliness. If that is the case, you must examine the reason. Did you feel that way prior to the limitations imposed by the virus? If that is the case, is communication the problem? There is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding about the challenges involved with lung disease. Family and friends are notoriously ignorant about your disease, and the fault for that lies with everyone involved.
The lung disease patient, or any other chronic disease patient, holds a responsibility to educate those around them. Of course, in order to teach others, the patient must understand their own situation. As I have said a million times, knowledge is power! A good knowledge of your disease will allow you to communicate with those around you, and hopefully help to alleviate the loneliness that comes with the lack of understanding.
Or, maybe just cut down on the country-western songs …
~ 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.
The contents of this blog post are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.