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Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

I would like to make a few suggestions for your period of isolation. If you are still working, especially if you are in any way connected with the healthcare system, bless you! And for God’s sake, be careful!

That “be careful” applies to the rest of you also! You have heard all of the cautions about isolation and washing hands and masks and all that. They are important actions, and I hope that you are being faithful to them.

In addition, please stock up two to three weeks of food and supplies. The supply lines are still open and working.

In addition to all of the things that I have been yammering at you about, like meds compliance, and exercise and eating properly, and exercise, and cleanliness, and exercise, I strongly suggest that you start a list for your doctor.

Watch Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary present a Pulmonary Chat topic, “How to be your doctor’s favorite patient,” to the Online Right2Breathe Patient Support Group by clicking this link.

For years, I have kept a daily record of my vital signs and my exercise activities. I keep it on an Excel spreadsheet, but it can be recorded on any other spreadsheet program or on a piece of paper. A Big Chief tablet will serve nicely.

The reasoning behind this is that doctors only see you infrequently. That has been complicated by the whole coronavirus pandemic. When you can get an appointment, they always take your vitals, primarily temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Today, they also ask you whether you have had a fever or a dry cough or fatigue or shortness of breath. The problem is that the vitals are just a snapshot of your vitals at that time. It tells the medical personnel only where you are that day.

I feel that the chart that I am suggesting would be an invaluable tool for the physician. It would give him or her so very much more information as to how you are doing day to day. That is more important now than it has ever been before.

I suggest that you keep track of your temperature, your blood pressure, your weight, your oxygen concentration, your bowel movements, and your exercise activity. You can also leave a column for anything abnormal. If you are short of breath on a particular day, is it worse than other days?

Be sure to take a current medicine list to your appointment. It should include the name of the medicine, the dosage, and the frequency of taking it. Type it up and carry a copy with you. Keep it updated.

You likely have a thermometer and a scale. If you do not have a blood pressure cuff, they are available for $20 to $40. I have a little fingertip unit that measures my heart rate and my oxygen concentration. It cost about $18. In addition, I have a little hand-held spirometer that I got off a major internet retailer. Today’s price is $50. It measures your peak flow and your FEV1, the amount of air that you can blow out in a second. In other words, it gives you a measure of your lung function.

If you do keep all this information, the doctor can look at your chart and spot any trends that would not be in any way obvious on a regular office visit. You can look for those same trends.

Try it! Take time out from watching American Ninja Warriors.

~ 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 www.caireinc.com/patients 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.

 

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