Overcoming Barriers for Individuals Diagnosed with Bronchiectasis and/or NTM

Posted on February 09, 2022   |   
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This blog post was authored by Katie Keating, RN, MS, and reviewed by the Bronchiectasis and NTM Content Review and Evaluation Committee.

Have you included goals to manage your health in your annual resolutions? Are you having difficulty working towards your new goals? Sticking to goals regarding your health can be hard at times, but the benefits of feeling your best throughout the year will be worth it!

The first step in reaching any goal that follows your care plan is to identify any barriers to setting your goals or self-management. Common barriers include gaps in what you know about your diagnosis; low motivation; lack of time, finances, or support; and expectation of immediate results.1

Below is a summary of important points gathered from an article entitled, Self-management in Bronchiectasis: The Patients’ Perspective.2 While it was originally written for health care providers, I have changed the point of view to give you some valuable insight and ideas for achieving your own goals regarding your health.

You may question if the therapy you are doing is working. Some patients don’t see immediate results and distrust that the treatment is working. However, research has shown that treatments such as airway clearance techniques can help over time. Being consistent and sticking to the care plan recommended by your health care team will help you to feel better and avoid flare-ups over time.

You may wonder whether you are doing the treatment correctly. If you are questioning whether you are performing your therapies correctly; my suggestion is that you consult your health care team. Good communication with your care team can help to answer questions and relieve worries. You may want to ask your health care team about starting a pulmonary rehab program. Although pulmonary rehab is known for increasing your strength and endurance, it can be a valuable tool for education on topics such as airway clearance and nutrition.

Are you struggling to prioritize treatment due to a lack of time? I encourage you to put therapies on your “to do” list daily. It may be helpful to write out a schedule so that you have your medicines and therapies accounted for. Compare your treatment to the safety instructions that they give on an airplane; you must put your mask on first before taking care of anyone else. Taking the time today may lessen the time it could take in the future to go to a doctor’s appointment, get medicines for necessary treatments, rest days, and healing days.

Do you struggle with (or would you like to improve) communication with your healthcare provider? It is always helpful to prepare for visits with your healthcare provider by preparing notes, questions, or talking points to encourage conversation. Bring a loved one to help you capture important details of the visit by taking notes. Ask for further explanation if you do not understand what is being said. Here’s a helpful link with information for preparing for MD visits on the Bronchiectasis and NTM 360 website.

Are you still coming up with a “game plan” and/or accepting your diagnosis? Recognize that acceptance of your diagnosis takes time. I have read in the past that it can take up to 7 years for a patient to truly accept a rare disorder. Looking back, it took me at least 7 years to accept and then to apply my newly acquired learning. After multiple flare-ups and exacerbations, I now regret that it took me so long to really “get it,” and apply the preventative measures earlier. Once you accept your diagnosis, you are more likely to make changes.

Start creating your objectives today to improve the quality of your life for tomorrow. Attempt to get rid of barriers that stand in your way of sticking to your care plan. Small changes can lead to bigger changes over time.

BronchandNTM360social hopes to support you by providing our community with additional information on an ongoing basis. We are here to empower you to be better at taking care of yourself, to feel your best, and improve the quality of your life. Is there a particular area in your bronchiectasis and/or NTM treatment plan that you do not understand? Let us know! The team and group members on BronchandNTM360social are here to support you on your journey.