Debilitating, Devastating, Frustrating: Words to Live By? conducted a survey, “COPD In America,” in which they asked people to describe COPD in one word. The results are fascinating.

First of all, as you can see from the graphic, people mostly used words such as: “Tiring.” “Frustrating.” “Debilitating.” “Hell.” “Horrible.” “Terrible.”

I can agree. These may be negative words, but they are honest answers. COPD is all of these bad feelings. Being sick, being limited, being frustrated, and being tired are all horrible parts of life with this disease. It can be hell.

But – yet – look closer at this graphic and you can see other words scattered in among these and they're like little drops of hope sprinkling the page:


What a wonderful word, encompassing so many different meanings. May we accept ourselves as we are. We are worthy. May we accept our lives and adapt to new ways of doing things. May we accept our new purposes and goals.


Another great word, humbling is. I know that Merriam-Webster's defines the verb as “to destroy the power, independence, or prestige of” but I like to imagine it as their definition for the noun humble, “1. not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive. 2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference.” I have gone through a process of realizing my place in the world – or, more aptly, to turn it around and say I've realized how great and wonderful the earth and the heavens are. I reflect in deference on it, on myself and my life, and allow the slowing down of my world to come.


I can see the people who submitted this phrase as nodding their heads and assuring us they're doing okay. “It'll be okay,” is one of the most soothing sentences in English. May we all do okay. May we all be okay.


A beautiful word that I like to think a caregiver or medical personnel contributed. It does my heart good to think about people learning compassion from us. May all people we encounter grow a little bit more compassionate. May we ourselves keep our compassion.


How lovely to know some of us are coping. We are lucky that as humans we have the ability to adapt and to cope with our circumstances, and the fortune to live at a time where science and medicine can help us do it. May we all be able to cope.


And the last word is my favorite: “Cats.” Actually, that might've been my response. My cats, even the 21 lb Mighty Tiger that likes to sleep on my chest, help me through the bad times. Pets are wonderful boon companions and are helpful to so many of us. But seeing the word “cats” on an online survey is no big surprise; after all, the Internet is for cats.

Breathe easy, everyone, and think of the hopeful words in 2019 and beyond.

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