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an Alice in wonderland themed illustration with the caterpillar on oxygen and the queen of hearts using a nebulizer

Down the Rabbit Hole

I am a big fan of Alice in Wonderland and all the great quotes that come from the story. Many seem like nonsense until you really reflect upon them. As I read through a few the other day, I became “curiouser and curiouser.” How do some of these quotes relate to life with COPD?

The past and acceptance

"It's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."

This is probably the most difficult to deal with. Just as we all grieve for a loved one lost, we go through the same grieving process for the loss of our past life. Many of us are forced to give up careers early. Many of us have experienced the loss of friends and our social life, as well as many activities. We have to accept the changes and find ways to move on with a chronic illness.

To-do lists

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

This sounds like me most days. I wake up, feel good, and make plans to get so much done. Don’t we all do this? Once up, something happens. The lungs don’t want to cooperate so the plans get altered. After a few puffs on the inhaler or nebulizer, there is a glimmer of hope. Maybe I can make those plans after all or tackle that cleaning that needs to get done. After a while, the breath gets shorter and the energy begins fading. I thought I was Superwoman before COPD, creating impossible to-do lists. Some things have not changed.

Hard work

"It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

COPD is a tough disease and takes a lot of work to manage. To have a fulfilling life takes determination. Life changes have to be made. Sitting on the couch filled with self-pity won’t work. I have to commit to daily exercise, even if I’m short of breath. I have to work at my food choices with the goal of losing weight. Some of you have to work at gaining weight. It's easy when we are tired to just eat whatever is available or not eat at all. We have to work very hard at staying healthy to slow this disease from progressing.

Acceptance and humor

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
There is very little about COPD that makes sense. At least there are days I feel that way. I use a health journal. I track everything - symptoms, exercise, medicine, how I slept, and weather. By doing this, I have discovered reasons to be breathless on certain days. There have been moments though where it just doesn’t make sense. I have done everything right, and it is still a bad day or a bad few hours. I have come to accept that once in a while, it won’t.

“Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.”
Even though it is just a few seconds, or a few minutes, being short of breath seems like forever until the pursed-lip breathing or rescue inhaler works.

“We’re All Mad Here”
This is my favorite. It reminds me to have fun in life. Believe in the magical and the nonsense. Learn to laugh at yourself and the silliness in life. We all have a little quirkiness to our personalities. Embrace them in yourself and each other.

Do you have any favorite quotes that get you through your day? We all find inspiration in different ways. What is yours?

What helps you manage your COPD? Do you rely solely on your doctor for information or look elsewhere? Do you believe attitude makes a difference in living life with this disease? Are you a Is That All There Is type person or Let's Keep Dancing Person? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.

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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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