COPD Diagnosis: Life in the Slow Lane
Many years ago my husband and I moved from Atlanta to a piece of land off a quiet dirt road in the rural Ozarks. We knew things were different here - where the closest gas station was a one-pump wonder with only an outhouse to help needy customers - but the day when owner Nancy greeted us with, “Hey! I heard you guys got your telephone line in today!” I could only think one thing: Welcome to the Slow Lane.
And I love living here. The biggest news for a long time was when some teenagers snuck into Nancy's gas station and stole the three packs of peanut M&Ms she had; people shook their heads and wondered what the world was coming to. I shook my head with them and wondered when she'd get more M&Ms.
Fourteen years later, I sat stunned in my doctor's office as she gave me a diagnosis of COPD. It was like crashing into the Slow Lane again – an exercise in deceleration. My breathing challenges with COPD started right away which meant a lot of energy went into breathing, leaving me tired most days. I could no longer work 50 hours a week or play all weekend, like I could before I got sick. Some things I had to give up completely (like dancing) and some things I had to modify to fit with my new energy levels.
In other words, my life wasn't the same.
And that's okay.
Because when I could no longer move quickly or work hard I started to notice more. My life became leisurely by necessity. It focused on the small things. And that turned out to be exciting too, just in a different way.
I noticed what was happening around me on the piece of earth that I own which was, after all, the reason we moved to the rural Ozarks. I saw the life that the old elm outside my window cared for. I saw the birds and the chipmunks and the turtle I named Bob (no, I don't know why either) go about their lives and their seasonal cycles. There was a lot for me to discover and a lot for me to learn.
Sometimes I watch people in movies or my friends on Facebook dancing or bicycling or hiking and I'm envious of them and the things they can do. Sometimes there are days when I'm too sick to get out of bed and I rage against it. Everyone goes through these things. It's normal. The trick is to realize that resting is good for you. The bigger trick is to realize that you need to get back up when you can and do what you can.
Having a leisurely pace can make life more meaningful if you let it. There so many books to read, so many spring evenings to sit on the porch and enjoy the breeze, so many birds to watch. So try and enjoy your Life in the Slow Lane.