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Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

So, to my surprise, I am looking forward to the dawning of 2020! Who knew? I never thought that I would see the turn of the century, let alone 20 years later …

When we reach a certain age, we tend to look upon the annual changing of the calendar with a degree of apprehension. How many more New Year’s Eves will we see? I turned 79 last summer, so logic says that I am not going to be around for more than another 20 years or so …

Many years ago, in a self-righteous fit, I proclaimed that I had tried to live my life so that if I died tomorrow, I would have no regrets about anything that I had done, or anything I hadn’t done! Maudlin to be sure, but I meant it at the time. I wanted to make sure that I had done nothing to hurt others, and I also wanted to be able to take advantage of any opportunities that I could afford. Funny thing is, when I found myself facing potential death from septic shock, I found that I actually meant it! Laying there in intensive care, I reflected upon my life and discovered that I really was satisfied with my actions so far. Admittedly, I can be accused of a certain bias, but it is my story!

Later, when I again faced possible personal extinction from another case of sepsis, from severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, from some truly nasty cases of double pneumonia, a double lung transplant, prostate cancer and aggressive metastatic  squamous cell skin cancer, I again had the chance to review my activities. I am proud to say that I am still satisfied.

I would be the last to say that everyone should strive for the peace of mind that I have somehow achieved. For most, it would prove impossible. At the least, it would put a serious crimp in the lifestyles of a good percentage of the population. So, I have a few suggestions for you as we again creep up on the New Year …

If you are reading this, you likely have some familiarity with sickness of some manner or the caregiving of someone who is experiencing that ailment. It is popular this time of year to make some sort of resolutions, personal promises that are routinely broken within weeks of the first of January. Instead of specific goals such as losing weight or exercising more or other outlandish promises, why not simply vow to take better care of yourself? Begin by sitting down with your family or friends or caregivers and really explaining what you are going through! Chances are that they have no more than a vague idea of what it really means to be you. If you can get them to listen, it can open up lines of communication that could astound you! It’s not that they don’t care, it is likely that they just don’t understand!

Become your own best advocate! If you are to receive the best care for your ailments, you first have to know enough about them so that you can effectively communicate with your medical professionals. Do whatever you can to control your care, but be sure that you know what you are doing!

Exercise is looked upon as the enemy of the ill, especially those with breathing issues. It is hard. It takes more will power, good old-fashioned stubbornness, than many of us possess. However, and I am living proof of this, the more you do, the more that you can do! If you try and fail, try again! Do not beat yourself up. Just get back on the bike or the treadmill and build up your tolerance gradually. You may well be amazed at your progress!

Eat wisely. Eat stuff that you should, but eat several small meals a day rather than large ones that will make it difficult to breathe. When you cook, cook too much! Store or freeze the excess so that you will have food handy when you really do not feel like cooking. Be inventive. I recently had a sore jaw from skin cancer surgery. I went to a liquid diet for a week or so. If you find yourself in that position, try throwing half of an apple pie,  a few scoops of caramel praline ice cream and a little milk in a blender. It makes the greatest milkshake!

Build yourself a nest! Gather all of the stuff that you will need, the remote and the water and the phone and a blanket and snacks and such, and put everything within easy reach of your most comfortable chair. It will save you from struggling to get up, and it will save your caregiver a lot of trips!

Above all, please have a wonderful New Year! Reflect upon the good things that happened last year and look forward to good times to come. That is, after all, what it is all about.

Love you all …

~ 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.