• Matt in NYC asked if we could assist a relative in Sweden get help for his emphysema. Besides newsletters and booklets that we were able to provide, we contacted Margareta Emtner, PhD in Upsala, Sweden. (Margareta was a Fulbright Scholar who worked at Harbor-UCLA for a year doing research on exercise and oxygen. More on her exciting study later!) She gave us the name of a caring physician in the patient's hometown of Gothenberg. It's wonderful to have a network of friends around the world, for us, but also for you.

  • And speaking of friends in other parts of the world, Tetsuji Watanabe wrote to tell us that a very successful Lung Day Forum was held in Tokyo, Japan in November. The forum was sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Labor, the Japanese Pulmonary Society and the Yomiuri Newspaper Company. (This, he told us, is a daily newspaper with over a million readers, the largest in the world. I wish we could get that kind of publicity and support here in the States!) Film clips of talks given by Dr. Casaburi and Mary Burns started off their day. Dr. Kida, who has often visited us in Torrance, gave a speech about cessation of smoking, as well as referring to the high intensity exercise research being done at Harbor-UCLA by Dr. Casaburi.
  • This e-mail was followed by a box of beautiful Japanese calendars and some Oxy-dog t-shirts, via Fed-ex. You may recall that the oxy-dog is a device the Japanese are using to have their dogs help carry oxygen when oxygen users go for a walk. An earlier story we did on this excited a fair amount of mail. Mr. Watanabe ended his e-mail by saying how much he enjoyed the Second Wind. And we would like to add how much we enjoy hearing about the progress in helping COPD patients in Japan!

  • From Northern Territory, Australia we have had some wonderful correspondence with Kat, as she is known on the Internet. She especially likes some of the old letters from Dr. Tom that she has been reading, saying "how good it feels to 'hear' a health professional express so much understanding and caring". Kat is pretty much alone in a fairly remote area. She says she almost cried with joy when she first found so much information and support on the Internet and with the COPD Support Group.

  • But not all of our correspondence is from other parts of the world. We get a lot of mail from the various states. We especially would like to congratulate Linda from NYC who has made remarkable progress just with sheer determination and follow-through. She had many questions about her oxygen needs and the meanings of all her tests. The lesson all of you could learn from Linda is the importance of getting your physician to communicate and explain things to you. It is your body and you have a right and a need to know what is going on if you are to be motivated to do something about your health. Do you have a physician who tells you that there is nothing else that can be done to help you? Possibly that is so, but you certainly should then feel free to insist on a second opinion from a pulmonologist of your choosing. And you most certainly could request a referral to a pulmonary rehab program. If you aren't a candidate for rehab the staff at the program will let you know why. Sometimes, even if not a candidate for a full program, you might get help with breathing retraining or other specific needs. Unless you have Alzheimer's and can't remember instructions from one minute to the next, or are unable to be out of bed long enough for the program, you should be eligible for some help for your respiratory problems. Of course, that is assuming that your HMO and insurance cover this therapy, but that is another story for another day!

  • Homer, AK isn't as remote as the Northern Territory of Australia but it is a different world from NYC. Jim uses the phone, rather than the e-mail, to periodically get some moral support on smoking cessation and advice on safely increasing his activity. Keep up the good fight, Jim!

  • We are always pleased to try to answer your questions and help you but every once in awhile it is also wonderful to hear from someone like Terry Cass. Terry works in Cardiopulmonary Rehab at the Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, Illinois. She often drops us a few words of specific appreciation for an article, and for the Letter from Tom. Terry keeps the newsletters in a binder so that her patients can continue to enjoy them. I'll bet they also enjoy you, Terry.
  • We would like to wish Terry, all of the patients at Riverside Medical, and all of you, our readers, a New Year of learning, laughter and livelier lungs. Bless you all!