Person riding a rollercoaster with sunglasses, their hands are in the air and they are having a good time on a sunny day.

A Year of COPD

Another year of living with COPD has come and gone. It has been eight years. It has become easier because of the knowledge I have gained through the experience of managing it on a daily basis. I have learned remaining positive and active is key, although I have days of anxiousness and feeling defeated as well. It is really more moments versus entire days like it used to be in the beginning.

Important lessons

Exercise is a must. There is no getting around it. I have tried. I keep testing that theory just in case something has changed. It has not!

Recently, my husband and I moved. I thought the activity of packing the belongings of a six-room house I have lived in for forty years would be enough exercise. It wasn’t. By the time I was handed the keys to my new home, I was very short of breath.

The first week, I could barely make it across one room. I started my normal exercise routine a week ago. The difference was noticeable within a few days, although I still have a ways to go. Staying active is important, but a good exercise routine is absolutely necessary.

Don’t complain. Most people get tired of listening to constant complaints. I try to do as much as I can without asking for help or griping about being short of breath. I feel talking about my illness all the time can hurt relationships.

My husband is a wonderful caretaker. If I am ill or need help, I let him know. I don’t want my marriage and friendships to be about the difficulties of COPD. I have support groups for those conversations.

Life is what we make it

Many of us, myself included, talk about what we have lost because of COPD. Few ever talk about what they gained. Do we even think about it or are we too focused on the losses?

I have become much more compassionate, and not so wrapped up in my own life. I can’t do many activities I used to but found others I can. Writing is one of them. I was adventurous and bought a house virtually and moved to a state I have never been to! That is an accomplishment I am very proud of.

Don’t get wrapped up in your illness

I have been asked for advice as to how to manage this disease many times. It is easy to allow COPD to take over. I’ve done it. It is very important to educate yourself and become your own advocate. Know your symptoms and triggers. A journal will help figure them out. Surround yourself with positive people, including support groups.

Navigating your way through COPD is like a roller coaster ride. There are twists and ups, downs, and unexpected turns. There will be fear, cries of frustration, and if we allow it, joy. If managed well, each year becomes less challenging. Learn to live life with the illness, don’t become it. Shortness of breath is a symptom that isn’t going to change. Controlling it instead of it controlling me makes a difference in my quality of life.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.

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

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