Living With COPD: Who's Your Best Friend?

  • We all have things we keep, you know, little sentimental objects that might not get a second glance from most people, but hold great meaning to us.


    On a bookshelf at my house, among books, family pictures, and assorted novelties is a pair of little wooden shoes, each less than two inches long, hand-painted and carefully etched with the words, "Holland, Mich." They are tied together with a string that goes through a tiny hole in the side of each shoe. Attached to that string is a periwinkle blue cardboard tag about 1 1/2 x 3 inches long.  On the tag is hand written, simply, my mother's first and last name along with the town and state in which she grew up - Dolton, Illinois. Above her name are two one-cent stamps, green in color, each with a picture of a sculpture of George Washington. The tag is small, so you can see only the bottom half of the postage cancellation, but you can make out the year - 1936.

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    Today it might be unheard of to drop something like this in the mailbox and expect it to arrive at the correct destination, unscathed. But, obviously it made it. This trinket, from the Wooden Shoe Factory souvenir shop in Holland, Michigan, was purchased by my grandmother for her little girl - my mom. You know how kids love to get mail, so the idea was for my mother to send it to herself so she'd receive it once she got home.


    But, for me, the meaning of this little object doesn't lie in the brief address, the 2-cent postage, or even the still like-new condition of the tiny wooden shoes. The importance can be found on the other side of the tag, on which my mother wrote a message to herself underneath the pre-printed words, "Greetings From..." In pencil, in an eight year old's best effort at cursive handwriting it says, "Your best friend. Me."


    At Valentine's Day, at this time in which we celebrate love and relationships, let's remember that although its important to have support from - and give support to - friends, family, and peers; when it comes right down to it, you've got to love yourself. As much as your loved ones might want to help you in your struggle with COPD, they cannot breathe for you. You, and only you, can do that for yourself. 


    So, in thinking of the little wooden shoes that safely made the 130-mile journey in 1936, and in the wise and affirming message scrawled by a child, I send you these, her daughter's words on Valentine's Day.

    • Be your best friend and love yourself.
    • Love yourself enough to swallow your pride and seek help from people who specialize in the kind of pulmonary care you need.
    • Love yourself enough to put everything else aside to attend classes and events that will not only help you stay healthy, but uphold you emotionally when you're having a bad day.
    • Love yourself enough to post a hello on an online COPD forum that gives you information, support and encouragement and allows you in turn, to help others.
    • Love yourself enough to have the confidence to know there are many things you can do for yourself to breathe better.
    • And for goodness sake, love yourself enough to forgive yourself if you feel something you did brought on your lung disease. Life is too short, and too precious, to beat yourself up over what's long ago said and done.

    The time has come to be your own best friend. Yes, it has. And if you want to have some fun, or just make yourself feel good, here's permission to send yourself a little note that says, "From your best friend, me." Go ahead. It's okay. It really is.




Published On: February 09, 2009