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Share Your Story: Frank Rasler (ER Physician)

Jun 2, 2018 12:11:47 AM / by Cory Luckner

Today we have a different perspective on our Share Your Story segment. Frank Rasler shares his experiences with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from 30+ years as an emergency room physician. Typically we hear personal COPD experiences from patients, however hearing how an ER physician experiences COPD and what he thinks of the disease will provide further insight and education into the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States to help you improve your lifestyle quality.

How are You Involved with COPD?

I'm an ER physician dealing with the sad results everyday. As an ER physician of 30 years, I think that about 1/2 of everything I treat is preventable, and smoking related illnesses lead that sad list.

What Ways have You Seen Patients Adjust their Lives Post-Diagnosis? 

Depression and acceptance becomes a way of life for many; feeling hopeless after many failed attempts to quit. Frequent ER visits creates a mindset of fragility and weakness. The large (sometimes huge) bag of medications they take daily. The natural decrease in activity with exertional dyspnea (shortness of breath) leads to gradual weight gain, loss of muscle strength, sedentary activities - watching instead of doing.

What are the Most Common Ways that You have Seen Friends/Family Members Provide Support for their COPD Ridden Loved One?

Frequent ER visits with family, which can however become a burden. Stress between family can result from inability to quit. Generally family are understanding/forgiving and rightfully put some blame on the industry and past government support.

What is Your Greatest Achievement in Life that You are Most Proud Of?

Many thank you notes from past smokers or family. Usually in the ER we get complaints, so it's great to be thanked. Frequently able to get a patient to toss his full pack in the garbage while we talk. We did an ER smoking project in georgia's 150 ER's that can be viewed here.

If You were Talking to Someone Recently Diagnosed with COPD, What's Some Advice You Would Give Them?

Expect the first 3-4 weeks to be rough, be careful to not eat extra (unhealthy food as a substitute), set a start date when you don't anticipate major stress, use the 'near-death experience' concept as a tool to help when it's rough try the 'negative visualization' aspect daily for the first few weeks. Consider doing multiple health behavior changes (if you think you're ready/able) at the same time. Family support is key.

Check out Frank's recent TED talk:

In Your Opinion, What are the Hardest things a Patient has to Cope with after Diagnosis?

Sadness of a 'preventable' illness, and interruption of activities that used to provide happiness.


Thank you to Frank for sharing his interesting perspective on COPD. Now that you have been given the advice directly from Frank it is now up to you to take action and pursue treatment. Though COPD cannont be cured, there are countless treatment methods that you can pursue to find the greatest level of effectiveness. Leading to improved disease and lifestyle management.
Help spread COPD awareness by donating to the fundraiser for the film, COPD Highly Illogical: An Inconvenient Truth - A Special Tribute to Leonard Nimoy. 
Cory Luckner

Written by Cory Luckner

[Blog 2nd part here]