a woman in a wheelchair shoots a thumbs up to the hired cleaner helping her clean her home

Five Years In

A few days ago, I quietly and somberly celebrated the 5th anniversary of my journey with COPD and heart failure. Those that have had my experience often call this our rebirth. The first two years I shouted from the rooftops “I made it! I am alive!”

This year the anniversary was old news and nobody remembered but me. So, I kept it to myself and found gratitude there. Here is a summary of what I have learned about my disease and myself in the last 5 years.

Clear your clutter

Remove physical and emotional clutter. Minimize fall and tripping hazards, give yourself some space to stretch and exercise while staying safe.

Think about mats, rugs, and those excess decorations. Shelves of books? Your tubing for oxygen will get caught in everything. It's time to minimize clutter.

Remove carpets, pillows, and throws - anything that can hold dust or mold. Talk to your flooring supplier about installing an allergy-free material that is scratch resistant. We have premium vinyl which works great.

Replace light bulbs using energy-efficient lighting.  A well-lit path can help to minimize falls and boost your confidence by keeping you safe and saving you money. Wash all draperies at least once a year. Better yet, take all the draperies down and leave them down. Enjoy the sunshine every day. Remember to use a mask and ask for help, this is a lot of work.

Find inner peace and start living

Surround yourself with kindness. Learn to forgive yourself and others. Keep your body, mind, and soul well-nourished. Start a journal of your COPD journey and write a sentence a day. Recognize what you are grateful for and start a gratitude journal. Meditate and practice mindfulness.

Give yourself permission to exercise daily. Exercise is one of the things that most doctors agree on. Make this investment in yourself with a ‘do not cancel’ reminder. It is all about having the best future you can have.

Turn off the news and listen to the music that you enjoy. Play it loud and sing along, you have kept it in too long. Take time to read your favorite genre of good books. Don’t put the book down until you are ready to put it down.

Take your turn

You took care of everyone else, now it’s your turn to be taken care of. Ask for help. Have a coffee and cake/cleaning party. Make the things you do be the things that matter. Stop apologizing - there is nothing to apologize for.

I worked for 40 years but I am no longer working now. Today, I am the boss of the rest of my life. While keeping a work schedule may suit you, I never wanted to work until I died and I prefer my life to be a bit more flexible. This allows me to take life a little easier in my twilight years.

How about you? What have you learned along your COPD journey? Share with us in the comments below!

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