Caroline Gainer serves on the COPD Patient Advisory Group for the American Lung Association.
Caroline learned she had COPD back in 2013. Her initial reaction upon hearing her diagnosis was shock and disbelief. She had experienced some shortness of breath but had determined she just needed to control her breathing. This was working up until one Saturday in September where Caroline fell down her stairs and could not breathe due her left lung collapsing. She remembers being in a brain fog when that happened and having issues calling for help.
A month after Caroline was discharged from the hospital, she went back to work. She had been given an appointment to see a cardiologist and a pulmonologist but kept neither appointment. She was on Advair, did her breathing exercises and began an exercise regimen.
Things were going along rather well for just over a year before she experienced a second pneumothorax (collapsed lung). This time, she left the hospital on oxygen. After diligently following her exercise regimen, she was able to get off of oxygen for about 6 months and then had a third pneumothorax. Caroline went back on oxygen and is still on it today. She is able to do everything she wants while using oxygen; it just requires her to do some extra planning.
Following her second pneumothorax, Caroline realized she needed help and connected with the American Lung Association and the COPD Foundation. They both gave her useful information and hope.
As a member of the COPD Patient Advisory Group, Caroline helps others going through similar experiences by responding to questions on the American Lung Association’s online support groups hosted on Inspire. She also distributes educational materials to local nursing programs.
Caroline is a retired teacher and taught in the public school system and at the community college level. She is also retired from her work as a jewelry coordinator for Sears. In her free time, she loves to sew, crochet, read and hike. She also enjoys tending to her flower beds and vegetable garden.
At this time in her life, Caroline says that her reason for being is to help others with COPD lead their best life.