"It took my breath away." This simple but powerful statement is how Theresa Deschamps describes her years of struggle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Diagnosed in 2008, Theresa felt like she had nowhere to turn. "It changed everything. I couldn't walk and could barely talk without losing my breath. I felt as if I was missing out on living my life. Nobody seemed to understand what I was going through."
After struggling for some time, Theresa was accepted into the North East CCAC's Telehomecare program in early December, 2014.
The Telehomecare program provides easy-to-use health monitoring equipment and one-on-one education to help individuals with chronic diseases like COPD and Congestive Heart Failure live independently and safely at home. Patients learn how to monitor their vital signs and identify new or changing symptoms, and then can discuss any health issues directly with their Telehomecare nurse. Through education and support, they can set achievable goals and become active partners in making healthy lifestyle choices.
Theresa was immediately impressed by the quality of information she received on COPD. "Everything was explained in such a simple way. It was the first time I felt like I understood my condition. I felt in control."
Theresa's Telehomecare nurse, Lisa Draper has been working at the North East CCAC in North Bay for a year and half. "We hope to give our patients piece of mind in knowing that we are monitoring their health on a daily basis. We also provide them with the tools, knowledge, and confidence they need to manage their own health once they have completed the Telehomecare program."
Even though they have never met face-to-face, the two have an incredible bond. "Theresa is an amazing woman who has overcome many obstacles in her life. She is a true inspiration to everyone, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of her journey to optimal health." Theresa says that her connection with Lisa is very special to her. "Lisa was so understanding; she listened to me, took the time to answer all of my questions in detail, and most of all, she gave me a great deal of support and encouragement. I felt at ease with her and could speak freely, which was a great relief."
A published author, Theresa is now planning to start an online support group for those living with COPD. When launched, the new website, (copdsupportneducate.com) will feature information about the disease, health care resources and communication opportunities for COPD patients.
"When you're dealing with COPD, it's easy to become isolated and feel very lonely. As thankful as I am for the physical help I get, the emotional support is what helps me get through my day. I was lucky to have TelehomeCare and someone like Lisa to speak with on a regular basis, but unfortunately that's not the case for everyone."
Since starting with Telehomecare, Theresa feels stronger than ever, and has become more independent in her everyday life. "I'm able to do things I wasn't able to do before, like going for a walk around my block or spending time playing with my grandkids. I feel like I have my life back!"