Man stands in doorway ready to come out

I Came Out of the COPD Closet

My daughter got married a couple of weeks ago. It was a blustery outdoor wedding, but so pretty! Then there was an indoor reception.

How did I come out of the COPD closet? Most of my family lives 3 hours from me, so they don’t see me on my bad days. On this day, they saw me struggle, wear a face mask, use an inhaler, sit in the car and my husband had to help me walk across the uneven ground. They were surprised to have seen the change in me since we last saw each other.

I was proud of myself.

No deer in the headlights look for me. I did what I needed to do to be safe for me and to make this day wonderful for my daughter, who kept saying “I’m sorry”. There was no need for that, it was a beautiful wedding and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

For those that don’t have COPD and other invisible illnesses, they might not understand why I see this as “coming out of the closet”. So often we hear people tell that they are being put on oxygen. They are feeling uncomfortable being seen in public. I have told them that “soon it won’t be noticed as the oxygen tubes will be a part of you”. Ha! Some things just come back and make me stop and think.

My daughter’s wedding day was a “freeing day”.

My family has now seen me at my best and they have seen me at my worst. I’ve had COPD for about 8 years, I can never remember how long for sure. My husband and I left early, I knew it was time to go and we drove home that night. I ended up with an exacerbation and spent the next few days in bed. The doc put me on Prednisone, Levaquin and Duo Neb. My faithful trio of meds.

But it was “freeing”! Now I can tell others that I can understand what it’s like to take care of health in public. That their concerns are heard when they are concerned by that hose in the nose. Too often we are people who do care what we look like and are self-conscious.

I look forward to next time we get together.

A time when we can talk about COPD and what I experience when I get short of breath and struggle to breathe. When I can explain how an inhaler works and its purpose to help open the lungs. I can’t wait to give them a mask and have them try that. I believe that it’s up to each of us to educate others. Whether a link is sent or shared on Facebook or through email. Maybe an article could be printed out and shared about COPD or to have a discussion. Maybe someone wants to do a fundraiser or some other type of education.

COPD needs a voice.

By coming out of the closet, it enables me to reach out and hopefully make a difference to someone else with COPD or even a family member. We can each be tools to help be a voice about COPD. Maybe we can save a life or make someone else’s life much better. We aren’t alone in this and together we can make a difference.

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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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