Me Before Alpha-1 (Genetic COPD)
Last updated: June 2023
What is the life that you had before you were diagnosed with COPD? I was working a few jobs at the time of my diagnosis. I was a cook for our county jail and was doing private home care for a few clients.
Being a mother figure
I loved working at the jail. All of us cooks had trustees (inmates that they trusted to work during their jail time) that would help us food prep for the day of meals to come. They would also help clean, stock, and take care of the kitchen. I think my favorite part of the job was being a mother figure for some trustees. We learned a lot about them at the time that they worked for us. Some would only be there a couple of weeks, but others were there for months, either waiting for their trial or serving a sentence.
It amazed me how many of them thought that going to jail was part of life. They would tell me stories of their parents and grandparents who were in and out of jail all of their lives. I had a few even say to me, “You can’t tell me you have never been to jail?” They seemed so amazed that I hadn’t and thought that everyone had been to jail at least one time in their life.
I miss it every day
We saw so many come and go and most said that they would never be back, but every once in a while, they would. I’ve met some of the greatest people working at the jail. Some of them have gotten in touch with me over the years and I have heard how well they are doing and they have thanked me for treating them like I would treat anyone else. I wanted to always be fair and not judge them, so I never asked what they were in for. Some would tell me, but I never asked. It’s been ten and a half years since I had to leave and apply for disability and I still miss it every day.
Taking care of others has always been what I was good at and I loved it, especially knowing I was helping them stay out of the nursing home as they had wanted. I enjoyed working as a CNA. I have had many adopted grandparents over the years because of it and many extended families. Everyone that I had taken care of became like family to me. It is so hard when they pass on, but knowing that I have helped them do that at home, where they wanted, meant the world to me.
The sad part of this all is that I had told my parents that they would never have to worry about going to a nursing home because I would take care of them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that with my mom. I had been taking care of my mom at home with the help of my dad and siblings, but it just got to be too much for us all.
My siblings were still working and with my COPD and dad not moving around very well, it was getting very hard. She couldn't walk herself, feed herself, or get in and out of a chair or bed by herself. One day, my mom fell while my dad was walking her to the bathroom and he could not get her up by himself. We decided at the hospital that day that it was best for her and all of us if she went to a nursing home.
I sure miss her
It devastated me! I felt like I betrayed her. She never made me feel that way though, and she only worried about me. She lasted almost ten years until she finally passed away. I sure miss her! I got to take care of my dad though for his last month of life with the help of family. Since I knew he wouldn’t last very long and he could still do most everything himself, I knew I could do it.
They diagnosed him with rare blood cancer in 2019 and he only lasted a little over a month after diagnosis. Gosh, I didn’t mean for this article to turn into a story about my parents, but it ended up that way I guess I needed to get that out. Thank you for listening!
So, what did you do before your COPD diagnosis? Maybe you can still do some things that you did before? I sure hope so! Share with us in the comments below.
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