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a woman gazes out the window hopefully while clutching her oxygen and journal

Is That All There Is?

If you are familiar with the above-titled song by Peggy Lee from 1969, then you know it provided a topic for many debates. Is the song about being disillusioned or is it about hope?

It is of course disappointing to finally get to retirement age, only to have severe COPD. I suppose I can easily say, "Is that all there is?' and give up. There are days it is tempting, to just throw the towel in and sit on the couch for the rest of my life. That isn't who I am though.

Knowledge is power

How do you remain positive when there is a struggle to breathe every day? I'm not sure I have all the answers to that question. I know it starts with the mindset that there is still a lot of life left to live. It can be fulfilling if I want it to be. My priorities may have to change, but isn't that what makes life interesting? It is about curves, bends, and hills, knowing when to pivot and when not to.

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Knowing how to manage my COPD illness is my first step in remaining positive. Reading information from reputable websites, books, and keeping up with new information has been key. My doctor has limited time with me during a visit. He seems to appreciate and respect that I have become knowledgeable in my own disease.

It is particularly hard when I have had weeks of good days, then BAM, here comes a bad one. I feel like the universe is telling me, "Did you think life was normal again?" Learning to deal with these types of days is part of managing life with COPD.

It's all about the attitude

If I had spent my time being disillusioned about living with COPD, I feel very strongly I would not have gotten as far as I have with my health. Attitude is everything and can make a difference in healing. When I was in the pulmonary rehab hospital after almost losing my life to this disease, the medical staff was surprised at how quickly I went home. I had been in a coma for a month and on life support. They attributed my recovery to a positive attitude.

Some days I really have to work at it. Journaling and meditation play a large role in keeping my spirits up and healing from within. Acceptance and letting go of the old life that doesn't exist for me any longer have been part of managing COPD. I have slowly let go of anything that no longer serves my well-being. Belongings, hobbies, old grudges, and anger, they all had to go. They take up space that is needed for today and to stay healthy.

Let's keep dancing

Every day seems to provide me with a new lesson and a new outlook for me and COPD to co-exist. Shortness of breath and a slow pace is part of my life. I can be disillusioned by what life threw at me or take the challenge with hope for a good future with my husband in our golden years.

"If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing." I choose dancing because that is hope.

What helps you manage your COPD? Do you rely solely on your doctor for information or look elsewhere? Do you believe attitude makes a difference in living life with this disease? Are you a Is That All There Is type person or Let's Keep Dancing Person? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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.

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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