Faces of COPD: Edna Shattuck, 'Together...we will eradicate COPD once and for all'
Posted on November 25, 2017 |
Edna is a retired registered nurse and respiratory therapist, a Board member of the COPD Foundation, and an individual with COPD. Edna wants to share her story to give others an idea of what it’s like to have COPD and ask for support to help us turn the tables and eradicate this disease.
It’s difficult for me to comprehend that while COPD affects 30 million people in our country there are millions out there who don’t know its name or are suffering because they don’t know that they have it. Worse still, COPD is the third leading cause of death, but receives the least attention and funding.
When I was diagnosed with COPD, I already knew it. I was getting worse every day and of course I knew I absolutely had to see a doctor. But in all honesty, I was too ashamed to make the call.
My symptoms began with shortness of breath while doing things I never thought twice about—sweeping leaves off the porch, carrying groceries up the stairs or taking my dog for a walk. Basically anything requiring exertion or stamina was no longer an option.
COPD robbed me of my career and my income. I loved working but simply could no longer hide the fact that I couldn’t keep up the pace. I also miss the things my husband and I did together. We traveled, loved whitewater rafting and got to be pretty good at golf. Can you imagine how difficult it is for a spouse who has no experience dealing with a loved one who can’t breathe, has panic attacks and is getting worse every day?
I finally saw a pulmonary physician when I experienced an exacerbation that was so bad I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Since then, I dedicated myself to getting strong and getting my life back. Pulmonary rehabilitation is the reason I am here today. I would never have come this far without the support of the nurses, respiratory therapists and my fellow patients who coaxed me on when I thought I couldn’t go another minute on the treadmill.
I am fortunate to have wonderful doctors who take care of me. My husband still works so I don’t worry about health insurance or the cost of my medications. However, I know that I’m an exception not the rule. The vast majority of COPD patients live in areas where access to healthcare is difficult to come by, can’t afford their medications and don’t know how to cope with their condition.
I hope I’ve given those of you who’ve been newly diagnosed some reassurance in knowing that you can feel better and learn to live with COPD and, how it also affects your loved ones. I encourage you to learn more about COPD, ask questions on COPD360social and please, don’t give up. We’re a strong and supportive community and intend to be there for years to come. Together we will get the word out, and help to eradicate COPD once and for all.
I’d like to encourage you to speak with your colleagues about COPD and, with them, support the bills that come across your desks and are crucial to patients in your jurisdiction and all over the country. There are simple steps you can take on the COPD Foundation’s website to take such action. Join us.