Denial Isn't A River In Egypt

Last updated: November 2018

“Denial isn’t a river in Egypt” is a saying that has always stuck with me, probably because it can apply to so many different things. Even COPD. Oh my, being diagnosed with COPD… Denial!

Some ways that denial with COPD presents:

How could I possibly have COPD, I don’t even know what it is?

COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is a disease of the lungs which causes poor airflow.

How can I have COPD, I never smoked?

There are other causes besides smoking. Second-hand smoke, chemicals, pollutants, wood smoke, dust, and genetically, Alpha1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.

I’m short of breath, I can’t exercise because it will only get worse!

You can exercise and it’s so important to help improve lung function and for your whole body. Do talk to your doctor. Also, if needed, do use your rescue inhaler. Remember to pace yourself, start slowing and work yourself up.

I don’t like doctors and hospitals. They only want my money. Why should I go to the doctor or even ER? Maybe I’ll go later in the week if I’m still having trouble breathing.

If you are struggling and coming up with excuses why you shouldn’t go, it sounds like it’s something you should do. A person struggling with severe lung and COPD issues needs to be seen, especially if they are struggling. You may have a severe exacerbation, pneumonia or other. If you aren’t treated when you need to be, it could be serious.

I haven’t had COPD for very long, how can they say that I am stage 3, almost stage 4?

If you were just diagnosed at these stages, and you didn’t have noticeable symptoms until now, you maybe weren’t aware of your symptoms. Especially if you smoke, that can cause shortness of breath, maybe that masked your COPD symptoms. Do ask your doctor to help you sort it out.

Why do you say I have emphysema? I have COPD.

COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Under the COPD umbrella are emphysema, chronic bronchitis and Alpha1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which is the genetic form of COPD. The COPD Foundation also includes refractory, non-reversible asthma.

Why should I tell my spouse, adult children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, etc.? I don’t want to worry anybody.

It’s wonderful that you want to protect your family, however, I think this will have the opposite effect. Those close to you will likely suspect that something is going on and may expect the worst. Yes, COPD can be the worst.

Why can’t I use my hair gel when I’m with you? You know that I always have to use it, or my hair totally frizzes. Besides, you always used to use this same kind.

Through the years it seems that I am reactive to more and more things. Since diagnosed with COPD, it makes it more difficult for me to breathe. The innocent personal care products are made of many different chemicals and products. They can take my breathe away, as well as causing an exacerbation.

Why should I have that arterial blood gas, it hurts?

This test measures arterial blood gases (ABG), which is oxygen and carbon dioxide. Sometimes it’s very important to know how much CO2 (carbon dioxide) that you are retaining. Regarding it hurts, everyone handles pain differently and they can feel different with the different lab technicians. I feel the ABG as more of a sting.

If COPD is the third leading cause of death, why don’t more people know about it?

More and more people are becoming aware of COPD, because people and organizations are educating people.
COPD support groups are reaching out to those with COPD, families, friends and even those without a group.

I’ve never had an exacerbation, so if I ever have one, it won’t be bad. Because it must be built up and won’t be serious for a long time.

An exacerbation is a worsening of your COPD. This can involve mucus, chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, even a bacterial infection. An exacerbation can be mild, or it can be severe, the length of time does not make a difference.

It’s too hard for me to cook and too often the things here aren’t very good. What should I do?

You can possibly get meals delivered from Meals on Wheels or some other food delivery recommendation. This all depends on what is available in your area. If you are having trouble locating this, ask at the doctor's office, social services or even the senior center.

The doctor recommended that I sign up for hospice. If I do that, I’m afraid I’ll die, because that’s what hospice does.

Sadly, so many think this way. Some on hospice improve their health, as the quality of life is improved. This is because they get more attention from their hospice nurse on a regular basis. Medications are given to make a person feel better. Often someone will come in to help with baths.

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