sun rise

A New Day

Now that I have had time to digest my diagnosis with COPD, things do not seem as scary as I originally thought. I am still unsure about the future, but I know I have every reason to be positive. Now I can focus on moving forward and thinking about what steps come next.

The Hard Part

The obvious first priority for me is the need to quit smoking. The idea is terrifying to me, but I have to address the addiction in order to give my doctor the best chance of helping me. I think the scariest part of trying to quit smoking is the weight gain. Every time I have tried in the past, I have gained terrible amounts of weight that never seem to go away.

If I were alone, the mood swings wouldn’t bother me, but I am scared of how they will affect my relationship with my wife. She is my number one supporter. I worry that I’ll snap at her while I go through the withdrawal process. Having tried to quit multiple times before, I already know I am not a pleasant person to be around during this time, so I will have to be diligent about recognizing that my moods are a symptom of withdrawal and not the fault of anyone around me.

Grieving

I have been a smoker for 30 years. Even though I know how terrible smoking is and has been for me, there will be a period of grieving similar to having lost someone close to me. It has been a part of who I am for so many years that I’ll have to figure out who I am after everything settles. On the positive side of things, I should save a fortune considering all the money I spend currently on cigarettes.

The Plan

My Pulmonologist sounded confident when she diagnosed me with COPD that I was not at the end stage of COPD. She ordered more chest x-rays to help determine if a bronchoscopy procedure might be necessary. She currently has me on a once per day inhaler (Breo), along with an albuterol emergency inhaler. Hopefully my x-ray results will give her the information she needs. If not, there will likely be an MRI in my near future.

Changes

Now that I’ve been diagnosed with COPD, I am paying more attention to everything. At this point, I am still nervous enough that every little thing makes me question what is going on with my body. Purely a coincidence, just after the diagnosis, my allergies have been off the charts bad. My wife and I both agreed we felt like it was allergies, but because of my nerves, I went to the doctor anyway, only to have her confirm what we already knew. I thought it was better to go to the doctor and not need it, than to skip it and find out I was really getting sick.

Adjustments

While I will be making some life changes, I am also adjusting to sleeping with a sleep apnea machine. It has been a far bigger struggle than I would have imagined. I have only managed to use the machine over six hours once. Most nights I am below five hours of usage. As of last night, I was able to make some changes on the machine that actually helped me sleep better though. I was having trouble exhaling through the machine forcing air inwards.

Do any of you dealing with COPD also use a sleep apnea machine? Has the machine or any inhalers helped with your cough? Your ability to get quality rest? Please share in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (5)
  • Jean
    10 months ago

    I’m glad you’re looking at this positively. I have a couple of suggestions specific to quitting smoking. You’re right to look at it as an addiction, and my suggestion is that you find a health care professional who specializes in tobacco cessation. They are trained to look at smoking as an addiction and the first step is to analyze you use and figure out what the triggers are. They use a whole range of tools from prescription meds to otc meds and all the tips and tricks they can think of. Many have support groups and some use a mentoring program to help people. You need support from lots of sources to kick this and they have the best rates of success around.

    Your concern about weight gain is reasonable and real. If you just quit smoking and don’t pay attention to your diet, you will gain all kinds of weight. So, talk with your pulmonologist about starting an exercise program. Pulmonary Rehab is a good place to start, but you need to commit to working out every day, not just the two or three days of the program. Use PR to figure out where you are, and then use walking as your primary tool for aerobic exercise and weight/resistance training as the two components of your at home program. I’d join a gym as that gives you access to both trainers and great equipment.

    Just so you know it can be done, in 2003 I started a very aggressive weight loss program using diet and exercise and over 18 months lost over 100 pounds that I’ve kept off. I began the program just for weight loss, so I was all about calories in and out. The effect on my breathing was unbelievable. I got off O2 completely for 8 years and then went back on first for exercise and sleep and now for flying as well.

    You can quit smoking without the weight gain if you set up a program and do it faithfully. The exercise will also help with the mood problems. Endorphins work great!

  • mickey22
    10 months ago

    I should point out, in addition to my prior comment, that I stopped taking Spiriva in September because my eyes were giving me fits and I believe it was one of the side effect. Another side effect was a swollen tongue making it hard to keep from having a slurred speech. But I do believe my CPAP machine is an aid to a good nights sleep. I average about 8 to 9 hours a night. (My wife would probably be more accurate with 10 hours a night.) And I know that too much sleep is not good.

    I am talking with my doctor about all of this, and pretty much think that he’s as confused as I am. We are going to be seeing the Pulmonary people in the near future for another assessment.

  • mickey22
    10 months ago

    I have been with COPD and Sleep Apnea since 2007. I am on my second machine and wouldn’t consider ever going to sleep or take a nap without it. However, I am really confused about COPD. Up until last September the 6th, I was on Spiriva and Ventolin for emergencies. I quit taking Spiriva with my doctor’s permission to see how I would react. As long as I didn’t do any manual labor or heavy lifting, I was fine. I needed the ventolin only sparingly. Around the end of February this year, I noticed I was using my ventolin more often where it got to be almost once a day. On March 1, I took a dose of Spiriva and was good to go. Two days later I took another dose for the heck of it. It has now been six days now since taking any medicine. I should say that I don’t cough at all. I used to spit up mucus when I was taking Spiriva once a day, but not anymore. I don’t have headaches in the morning or anytime after. I never feel nauseated. But I do get short of breath if I exert myself too much. Walking the garbage out to the curb will do it. Up until March I burned wood in my outside boiler to heat my house and barn. I drove my truck a 100 feet to keep the furnace going for the night. I took me a half hour to do a five minute job. Now I use LP. I guess I’m just plain stupid to see the light.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi Steven Workman and thanks for updating us on the progress you’re making since your first post back on February 22 (here is the link–>https://copd.net/living/then-there-was-copd/).
    We’re here to provide you with support and to lend an interested and sympathetic ear. If there is anything you feel we can assist you with, please let us know.
    We will look forward to your continued participation!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • gracefulgailg56
    10 months ago

    I had to make some life changes too. I quit smoking after I was placed on 02 24/7 a year later I found out I have obstructive sleep apnea. After being diagnosed with sleep apnea and learning to sleep every night with CPAP machine has made a difference for me. I’ll agree it took time to get used to but it’s actually comforting to me as it helps me to breathe. I usually get about 6 to 7 hours a night with it and do have some episodes but nothing that is bringing up red flags for the Pulmonologist that treats me. You can adjust the temperature and the humidity that that machine puts out to setting you are comfortable with. Give it time — it may get easier.

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