Just Breathe: A Nurse Practitioner’s Story
Hello everyone. This is my inaugural blog. I’m Katie Rosen, a nurse practitioner in the Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) clinic at National Jewish Health in Denver, CO.
I’m new to this group and very happy to have found a group of like-minded individuals. I work with a diverse patient population. They range from general pulmonary patients to those being treated for all types of ILD. My clinic visits reflect this diversity. Throughout the day I see patients for routine follow-ups and medication management. I also see patients who are sick visits, and often arrange hospitalization.
Six months ago I began leading our pulmonary fibrosis support group.
At first, my colleagues were concerned that this would be too much for me. The group meets on a day where I am not required to be in clinic and can work from home. What they didn’t know was that for months I’d been attending meetings and getting to know this beautiful group of people. I have never regretted taking on this added responsibility. These patients are eager for knowledge about anything related to their disease. To help with that, I arrange guest speakers for each meeting.
Last month was a bit traumatic.
The head of lung transplant for CU gave an amazing presentation on the transplant process. However, I didn’t realize she planned to show actual photos of the surgery. I’m not sure anyone wanted lunch after that!
This month I decided we needed something more calm and uplifting.
Our speaker focused on mindfulness and meditation. After a brief orientation, she led the group through a lovely guided meditation. She asked everyone to focus on their breath. The room was quiet and peaceful—punctuated by the gentle hum of portable oxygen concentrators and the random cough.
My mind kept going to her statement, to focus on breath. As I thought about our attendees, I realized this is what they focus on—all the time—is breath!
I couldn’t find much in the way of research regarding mindfulness and pulmonary fibrosis but I did come across a small observational study from Italy, looking at mindfulness practice in patients with ILD. They found that mindfulness based stress reduction significantly improved mood state and stress, but did not show significant difference in respiratory questionnaire scores, pulmonary function, or exercise tolerance. (Sgalla et al. 2015). I’m hoping this paves the way for more research into this area.
It’s experiences like this that reinforce my desire to devote my practice to improving quality of life for all my patients—but especially for those with fibrosis.
Next month’s speaker? The head of my department talking about proven therapies for managing cough with PF.
I’ll leave you with what I learned from the mindfulness session. Be in the present and stop judging the past. The present is really all that any of us has. As I buzz around juggling a busy clinic schedule and family life—along with the constant thought about going back to school—I remind myself, “Just breathe.”
Thanks for reading!