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Mary Ella’s Weekly Message
September 12, 2011
Fighting for Air
The American Lung Association’s tagline is “Fighting for Air.” I’ve always believed in our mission but this week, that fight became even more personal when my mother was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). If you’ve read my story in Module 1, you know that my mother is the inspiration for my passion to help people quit smoking. She smoked for many years before she was able to quit around 20 years ago.
When my mother started smoking, it was considered fashionable, sophisticated and even touted as healthy in some television commercials. The American Lung Association and our partners have worked hard over the years to change that image, educate Americans about the real effects of smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. Far fewer people smoke now and folks are much better educated about tobacco use. Unfortunately, many people like my mother are still being diagnosed with smoking-related illnesses like COPD.
Symptoms of COPD can include a constant cough, shortness of breath while doing everyday activities, producing a lot of mucus, feeling like you can’t breathe or can’t take a deep breath, and wheezing. If you have several of those symptoms, you should probably ask your doctor about a simple breathing test called spirometry. The earlier COPD is detected and treated, the better it can be controlled in order to minimize the impact on the patient’s quality of life. The American Lung Association has more information about the symptoms and treatment for COPD on its website, as well as resources for those who already have been diagnosed with COPD. You can also call the Lung HelpLine to talk with a nurse or respiratory therapist: 800-LUNG-USA or 800-548-8252. Our counselors are available from 8:00 a.m. until midnight Eastern Time, seven days a week.
Increasing physical activity is recommended for people with COPD as well as for folks who are quitting smoking. Are you doing anything to increase your physical activity? This time of year the leaves begin to fall and cleaning up the yard is a great way to add a little activity to your day. Is the weather affecting your work out? If so, plan for your physical activity. Do something indoors to get moving—dance for 20 minutes to your favorite tunes, vacuum the floor, clean out your upper cabinets so that you stretch your muscles or take the stairs instead of an elevator. All of these little things will add up give you big fitness benefits. Don’t forget to drink more water as you increase your activity level and be sure to talk to your health care provider about working out safely before you engage in moderate or vigorous physical activity.
No matter what your situation is, you will experience all kinds of benefits by quitting smoking. If your quit date is this week, keep these tips in mind:
- Reward yourself. Give yourself something extra to reinforce your hard work.
- Get extra rest. Go to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Contact your buddy and get the support you need to stay strong and stay smokefree.
Until next time, I’ll see you on the Message Boards! :-) Mary Ella
Don’t forget: If you're in the Premium program and want help fast on the Message Boards, put "HELP NOW" in the subject line of your post. If you're looking to offer help, watch for those, "HELP NOW" posts and alert your other FFS Online buddies to offer some assistance as well.