When Bev Black took a drag on her first cigarette back in 1964, she was oblivious to the risks. After all, just about everyone smoked in those days…
It was in the workplace, in restaurants, at the movie theatre and even in the hospitals. By the time she quit smoking the damage had already been done. As a COPD patient who has also been struck down a few times with pneumonia, the quality of Bev’s life, like millions of others, has been severely compromised. This is some of her acquired wisdom.
1. Be prepared for chest infections that ambush you.
Unfortunately, pneumonia is an all-too-common problem for those with COPD. Bev learned the hard way about dealing with these sorts of exacerbations as she had two particularly bad bouts of pneumonia. “In 2009, I was in the hospital for 7 weeks on the bi-pap machine and then on life support (intubated). In 2015, I was hospitalized for 12 days.”
2. Never underestimate the power of a picture.
Bev’s weight plummeted to a shocking 72 pounds due to pneumonia. It took quite a while to rebuild the strength to walk again. But it was mental toughness and a picture of her granddaughter that saw her through the rough times. A photo taped to the end of her hospital bed brought her to her “happy place” and helped her calm down. Still to this day, she draws inspiration from it whenever she is in a flare-up.
3. Get the jabs.
Vigilant about safeguarding her health, Bev receives both the flu and pneumonia shots annually. Because of her attentiveness, she has been lucky enough not to catch the flu, and the pneumonia vaccine protects her from the very nasty strains of the virus that can be lethal.
4. Pay attention to prevention.
As a matter of course, Bev avoids crowds and ill people, especially during flu season. She washes her hands often and avoids touching her face when in public. She also recommends keeping something on hand that makes you calm if you are feeling anxious or experiencing a flare-up.
5. Know you can still accomplish breath-defying feats.
Despite Bev’s petite stature, she is larger than life in tenacity and her zeal to improve conditions for others. In addition to her role as a Lung Health Ambassador, she also volunteers for the Ontario Lung Association by representing the organization at health fairs. The tireless advocate was also the driving force behind Zoom-Airs which established a place in the community where people living with lung disease could exercise in a safe and effective manner.