There is little doubt. Once you have been diagnosed with COPD you enter a major learning experience. Often we are given no information about our illness when first diagnosed. Then left to flounder while trying to find information for ourselves. Many use Google, and read frightening information, some articles wrongly informing the reader they have little time to live. It is because of a lack of good information and the belief it would be good for me, and those reading my articles, that I decided to write about my journey with COPD.
There is much that I have learned through the 29 long years I have journeyed with COPD. I talk widely about lung illness. Educate when I can, and fight for more resources for lung conditions with our health service, and local government.
Along the way laughing a lot. This has sometimes been met with disbelief. How can I laugh when ill, still smile, and joke, playing the fool while others with my condition are sad, and withdrawn? Why don’t I suffer as many others seem to, some ask. The reality is there are times when I am feeling much worse than I seem. There have been times when I have had to be rushed to the hospital with an unexpected pneumonia. Even my specialist admires my attitude, the way I handle my lung illness, and has said he wished many of his other patients were like me. The answer is to have attitude.
If you constantly tell yourself your life is over because of bad lungs, that you now have nothing to offer, like the old Indian squaw that left her family, and went into the wilds to die, so might you. You can, and will, make yourself more ill than you would otherwise be with the wrong attitude. Through your own mind, your own thoughts, you can make yourself feel more ill than you would feel. But get a positive attitude and you gain control, and will not only feel less ill, but have a better more enjoyable life also. Breathing is often easier for those that look on the bright side of life, and laughter enjoyed much more often. Positive thinkers enjoy life more. With the bonus we tend to live longer.
Along with attitude is stress. One of the biggest killers of our time. And certainly one of our major enemies. Stress sucks. It takes the get up and go from us. Stress makes us ill. Raises our heart beat. And leaves us more breathless. Refuse to rush or for others to hurry you. Slow the mind. Take your time. There is a saying in long shutter photography of which I am a fan: “Time is on my side“. A good motto to remember when feeling hurried for us with COPD.
If you need to, slow down and take control. Take time out to enjoy laughter with friends. Good cooking. To enjoy time alone. To admire nature. For a hobby. Do not dwell on your lungs. Laugh at the absurd. Learn to breathe right. To relax more. Listen to music that you enjoy, and remember, life is a long journey so sit back and enjoy. Having the right attitude means getting rid of all them negative thoughts. It is no use worrying what tomorrow might bring. Whatever your fear is it might never happen, and all that worrying will have been for nothing.
Controlling your illness. Self management. Knowing your body. Having medication at hand. Knowing what to do in an emergency. All these allow you to be in control of your illness. But attitude really is the icing on the cake. The mind, your mind, is your strongest or weakest link – depending on your attitude. This is too short an article to write in depth about positive thinking. But the truth is many program their day from the moment of waking in the morning.
If you rise from sleep with the thought in your mind that today is going to be a bad day, the chances are you will not feel well. Your mind helps you to fulfill your prophesy as if obeying an instruction. But if you wake with the thought I am going to enjoy today and enjoy myself, you will be programming your mind for a positive day with the bonus this also will likely be the outcome.
Why am I so happy most the time? Why don’t I seem as ill as many think I should be with stage 4 COPD? The answer I am sure is because I have a positive attitude. I might have COPD. But COPD will not control me. Let alone beat me. I pace myself. Slow my breathing if I need to. Refuse to be hurried. Enjoy all around me. Time with family and friends. You too can choose to be happy. You can take control. All you need is to have a positive attitude.
Till I next write. Breathe Easy.