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My Wall of Denial

Should my nickname be Jericho? Hmmm. I suppose I could admit, out loud, even, that I have always sort of played games with myself by hiding problems from those around me, or at least there were many times when I could convince myself that I believed that they could not see those problems. Of course, that was just me, choosing to not live in reality. I was able to continue drinking and drugging for 25 years before I got sober, even refusing to see the damage to myself and my loved ones. But there's no excuse for it now, as I am 32 years clean and sober. But, of course, I couldn't give up all my bad habits, so I kept smoking. And kept smoking. On and on. I was a big truck driver, so I could not get officially diagnosed with COPD or I'd lose my livelihood. So, though I knew I had it as far back as about 2015, I maintained a nice comfy wall of denial, though the doctor who gave me my DOT physical that year told me I had it. I had actually heard him mention it two years before. But he told me in 2015, as he issued me a two-year card, that it would be my last one, and he was right. So, I had to forcibly retire in June of 2017. Still, I chose to continue the denial until the first of this year when I got really sick. Finally in April I made a first appointment to seek treatment for COPD. Then I promptly collapsed at that appointment, in the doctor's office, and was taken to the ED (I had severe pneumonia!), spending a week in the hospital and three weeks in rehab. Obviously, after that my denial phase was over. So, I guess I can now admit for the first time that I've had COPD for at least eight years and really even longer. But 2021 was my first year to live in reality with it (and actually quit smoking), though I had to be forced to do so. Man, how stubborn can I be? Well, I don't have to ask myself that question anymore.

The bad thing is that I now have to live with the consequences of all that. The good thing is that I'm still alive to do so. So here I am, finding myself starting a new year that will be my first full year of dealing head on with COPD, though hopefully not my last. The transition has not been a fun one. But I have learned a lot already, and will keep trying to learn more, as knowledge is key to coping and maybe making progress with this disease. Similar to when I got sober, I just have to change everything, from the inside out. My life has definitely gone through drastic change, as I have spent the last year confined to home and unable to do more than just move around the house at times even just barely that. But the new year holds promise, as I have a portable concentrator coming (if it ever gets here!), and I will try to make the leap into expanding my living area to include the outdoors and even driving again, maybe. I'll have to use restraint and be careful to take baby steps to see what my damaged lungs will allow, but I am determined to move about more and do more. I am not ready to surrender to a life of imprisonment yet. I'm impatient, and things are not moving fast enough to suit me, as usual. Or maybe life is moving at regular speed, and I am unable to catch up, but I am working on it. All the while denying even the remotest possibility that I will be anything less than wildly successful. At least now I can admit how I operate!

  1. Hi ! Congratulations on being sober and on quitting smoking! I can't imagine how scary the first appointment was for you when you passed out at the office. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are a talented writer. I can relate to the denial part. I have been diagnosed for 12 years now, but as early as 10 years before that, at 29, I had symptoms. Of course, I still smoked and kept telling myself that I needed to quit. I had finally quit 3 months before my diagnosis. Here is a helpful article from a fellow COPD advocate I think you might enjoy. https://copd.net/living/managing-tips. It has some great tips in it. Please don't misunderstand the exercise part of it. When my doctors and fellow COPD friends would tell me that exercise would be the greatest thing that I could do for myself, I wanted to tell them where to go. I thought..."how in the world do they expect me to exercise when I can't even breathe? " It took me many years to listen, but I wish I would have done it from the beginning. Even if you can only do one minute at a time or even 30 seconds, do that, rest, do more rest, just keep moving. Thank you again for sharing your story! Best, Jackie (Moderator)

    1. , thank you for sharing such an insightful and personal story with us. Sometimes we have to reflect on our past to best be able to move forward. From what I can tell from the conversations we have had on the site, you have a solid head on your shoulders and are heading into this year in the best position to make it a successful one! I look forward to hearing your updates, especially once the POC comes in and you are able to start getting out more! All the best, Sam S. (COPD.net, team member).


      1. Hi kloker - all your posts, here in the community, have been more than welcome! In this, your latest post, you seem to be 'baring your soul' (to a certain extent), again, here with your online community 'family'. Your candor and sensitivity are very touching.
        At this point, it sounds (to me), like you have a good idea of how you're doing and everything you need/want to do to move forward and get there.
        I would suggest you try to be kind and patient with yourself. Everything about this disease is fairly slow moving and one has to adjust in order to be successful.
        As always, we here at COPD.net, are here to support you in any way that we can. As we progress towards the New Year, I wish for you good health and warm times with your family.
        Wishing you well,
        Leon (site moderator COPD.net)

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