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COPD Diagnosis: Life in the Slow Lane.

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Janet Plank moderator
    7 months ago

    Michelle, 2 years after this was published I am reading this. You are always such an inspiration!

    Chris, thank you for bringing it to the forefront! Thank you for sharing you!

    Janet (site moderator)

  • Chris
    7 months ago

    Hi Michelle, I like your attitude as well and hope it’s unchanged today. I’m Stage III and moved to sea level because breathing at Colorado altitudes was difficult. It’s much easier now and I share a similar attitude that this moment in time is good and worrying and fretting about the future takes away from enjoying life.

    Oddly enough I’m a member here but found your article today searching “Living in the Slow Lane” which is also the name of my website about our move and living with COPD.

    We all have challenges and many are far worse than COPD. I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a great 2019.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Chris and thanks for your post in response to Michelle’s article. I’m sure she will be pleased when she reads your comments. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • luvmylife1948
    12 months ago

    So good to have this site to come to as there is always something to learn and also to hear of other people’s experiences and how they deal with it. I for one have always been active to age 64yrs. and by age 65yrs. it all changed. I had an attack of pneumonia. (scary) worst experience for not being able to breathe, then to be told I have COPD. It is comforting to know that the symptoms I am experiencing with sudden weakness in the legs could be low oxygen levels. This spurs me on to ask my GP to test for this. Also to learn that to just rest is O.K. The downside is that I can’t exercise due to tired swollen legs, and worried about muscle wasting. So I am researching and learning how to change and learning to live with what I can’t change. But just being on this site and hearing other people feeling the same way helps. It doesn’t make me feel abnormal. Some things are just the way they are and I can adapt and PACE myself which I already do. Thank you to those who post and for the input of the moderators. HAVE A GOOD DAY from the U.K.

  • blackjack
    2 years ago

    I loved your story Michelle. The shock of not being able to do the things I normally could do crept up like a thief – never saw it coming, not really. Just put it down to ever increasing “over doing it” for my age.. I know different now of course and you’re right, going a slower pace I began to observe, even those around me a lot more closely – strangely it has its rewards, just different that’s all

  • Lyn519
    2 years ago

    Thanks for your advise. Hearing positive people talk always motivates me to do more but also take time to enjoy the smaller things around me..

  • Jenn Patel
    2 years ago

    So glad to hear that, Lyn519! It sounds like YOU are quite the positive person yourself! Thanks for sharing that with the community. Best, Jenn (COPD.net Team)

  • JerryB
    3 years ago

    Hey all. New too this forum.
    Am 74 YY former long term smoker.
    Since diagnosed with COPD I’ve found good support with inhalers and breathing exercises.

    Recent airline trips from east to west coast I found breathing more difficult. Even with air cabin pressurizing.

    Should I consider some apparatus for better breathing when I fly?
    If so …. Value your thoughts recommendations.
    Thx
    JerryB

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Jerry B and thanks for your post. While we cannot provide medical advice over the internet (for your own safety), your question certainly warrants a comment. Some of our members find that being on supplemental oxygen, combined with their medication regimen, makes their breathing more comfortable while traveling. This is definitely something you should discuss with your physician. You may find that you are a candidate for using oxygen and that might be helpful for your situation.
    Please check back with us and let us know how you’re doing.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Jenn Patel
    3 years ago

    Hi JerryB –

    Thanks so much for your comment, and welcome to COPD.net. Kudos to you on finding good support with inhalers and breathing exercises! That is wonderful!

    I hear you on the challenges of traveling with COPD. While you may get more feedback from community members on personal experience, I thought you might appreciate this article from Mary, which includes ideas about flying with COPD:

    https://copd.net/living/on-oxygen-on-the-go-part-5-plane-train-bus-or-cruise/

    I think and hope you’ll find this useful. Please do let us know how your traveling goes! We’re wishing you our best, and encourage you to come by any time you’d like info and/or support!

    Best,
    Jenn (Community Manager, COPD.net)

  • Riversong
    3 years ago

    Am by myself now and don’t drive anymore. Rely on my Son to take me shopping and to the doctors. Too hard to really go shopping for clothes or other things as my legs are getting weak and have to have my oxygen all the time. Know it could (and probably will) get much worse, so am just trying to enjoy what few things I can still do now.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    We all appreciate your comments, Riversong. Please know that you are always welcome here in our online community. Wishing you the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • michelle.vincent moderator author
    3 years ago

    I hear you. Things can be really tough with this disease. You are doing great when you enjoy what you can. May you find enjoyment for a very long time to come. My thoughts are with you.

  • judy c
    3 years ago

    It has been very hard for me to slow down & stay insids at certain times. Thank you for this article. I have so many allergies . I am unable to work in my garden & do the thinhs I always did . I will try to appreciate “Life in the Slow Lane ” !

  • Jenn Patel
    3 years ago

    You have a great attitude, judy c!!! Thanks so much for sharing it here. You’re definitely not alone in the experiences you’re having with being unable to do some things you always did. Please know you can come by any time – there are many people here who really understand what you’re going through!

    Thanks for being part of the community.

    Warmly,
    Jenn (Community Manager, COPD.net)

  • steiner53
    3 years ago

    thank you for this article. I needed to see this today. I am 63 yrs old, diagnosed 3 yrs ago. I stopped smoking 4 yrs ago thinking I would join my friends in running marathons. Guess I didn’t quit soon enough. instead of dwelling on what I can’t do, I am going to change that thinking into something positive thanks to your article.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    That’s good to hear, Steiner – a positive attitude goes a very long way in being able to deal with COPD. In view of your comment, I thought you might find this article on ‘staying positive’ to be helpful to read:https://copd.net/caregiver/how-to-stay-positive-when-discouraged/ We’re glad to have you as part of our online community and look forward to your continued participation.
    Warm regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • michelle.vincent moderator author
    3 years ago

    Good for you! That is a very important decision and I’m glad you made it. Take care of yourself and breathe easy.

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