Monday, February 15, 2016

Nanaimo Better Breathers

Today I went to my first Nanaimo Better Breathers meeting. Mike had heard of them through a "what's happening in Nanaimo" website and we both went.

The Better Breathers hold meetings once a month at Beban Rec Centre. There were about 25 people there. Most seemed to be suffering from COPD - but the group is open to anyone with breathing issues. Some had portable oxygen, there was a bit of coughing (including me),  but most seemed pretty OK. Several people were new. The woman sitting next to me had just been diagnosed with COPD and given a puffer by her GP - but she had no idea what it all meant. A man we met said basically the same thing - he had just been diagnosed with COPD but didn't know what to do and was very averse to taking any medication.

The meeting started with a moment of silence for a member who had recently died. Then we did a seated exercise program from a DVD. It was amazingly effective.

The speaker was Heather from the People in Pain Network.  She was amazing. As a result of various spinal problems and surgery 26 years ago, she now has "persistent pain" from her waist down 24/7. She takes opiates to manage (but not eliminate) the pain. She had worked out her own plan for dealing with  pain and had started up a network of peer led pain groups across BC. There is a chapter in Nanaimo. By the end of her presentation, you could see that she was sweating from the effort. Her main point seemed to be that people in pain need to adjust their lives to deal with the reality of their pain - prioritize, take breaks, accept that there will have be bad days, give yourself comfort, involve your family, join a support group, and try to laugh a lot. At the next Nanaimo meeting they will be talking about the medical use of marijuana. This was serious stuff.

I'm very lucky. I don't have pain - just phlegm. However, her advice was good for anyone living with a chronic condition - you have to adapt. A sort of funny thing happened after the presentation. Bernie, the leader, demonstrated how to use a spacer and showed us a Symbicort turbohaler. One of the women in the group asked him whether you were allowed to take more than 2 puffs twice daily. There were a few comments and I put in my 2 bits about my 16 inhalations a day. They were amazed. After the meeting I got talking to a group about Symbicort and took the chance to do my asthma advocate thing - I encouraged them to self-advocate for the best care they could get. They left saying, "We'll fight!" Quite overwhelming actually.

No comments:

Post a Comment