As you've probably seen around the site, November is COPD Awareness Month. But to me, awareness is more than simply knowing that a condition or problem exists. It's about better understanding the experiences and challenges that people with that condition have.
I'm a respiratory therapist. When people talk to me about their breathing problems, it's very easy (almost a reflex) to say, "Oh, I understand what you're going through," or "I know what you mean," because I do know the physical stuff that causes the many problems with COPD. But the truth is, that's all I know. I don't really understand what the experience of living with COPD is like. And I think that's one of our biggest problems with getting the general public on the COPD awareness train: It's hard to fully understand what you haven't experienced.
So, my question to you in the community this COPD Awareness Month is this: What do you most wish people understood about living with COPD? What should they be, well, aware of? How can we do a better job of spreading that message?