Person in a "dream land" smoking and listening to music.

Getting Diagnosed with COPD

Last updated: August 2018

Getting diagnosed with COPD is usually not a sudden thing. I can remember sitting in the living room of my mom’s house when I was a young adult (and a smoker) when she announced that her brother was being tested for COPD. He was a smoker too and was trying to quit. The discussion was heavy in the air. We both lit a cigarette. Mom changed the subject by warming up her organ. She pushed a button for a few seconds and then clicked a switch. Soon I was beside her and we were singing “All I want is loving you and music, music, music”.  Denial was our friend.

We knew all along.

Lingering Colds

It seemed like colds lasted longer than they should have. The fever, headaches, and sore throat might not last. A cough hung around for weeks sometimes. Lots of sputum needed to be spit, not swallowed. With that came little wads of tissue near the wastebasket, in the chair, under her pillow. All of this long-lasting thick liquid in her lungs was a sign that the cilia in her pulmonary system were not clearing out as fast as they should.

Allergy Problems

We never really heard about allergies growing up. Everyone had a runny nose in the spring. Occasionally a bout of sniffles came up in the fall. A summer cold was a different animal. I remember mom’s first one. She bought some medicine that promised to help her when it hit her in the summer when she had lots to do. It meant that we got off the hook on some of our chores. Mom took naps. We played dolls quietly in our room. Dinner was usually canned soup.


She called me one day to come over. When I got there, she showed me her new cleaning supplies. She had mixed up a pail full of vinegar and water to mop the floor and was happy with the results. She took it a step further and made spray bottles for each room. Then I had to hear about the evils of ammonia in the mop water. Scouring powders were also the enemy. Mom was having problems breathing after cleaning the house.

Perfume Bans

Mom loved candles and her home always smelled good. It was easy to shop for her because of her love for all things scented. Her laundry soap and dryer sheets smelled great. Her candles were lit with a warm fragrance. Perfume? Oh my, did she love fragrances! She had a signature fragrance that she always loved, but everyone knew that she welcomed a bottle for any holiday. When she asked us to stop, we knew.

Over a period of several years, several these changes took place at mom’s house. They happened so slowly that we didn't see the writing on the wall. Eventually, it all began to add up. We didn’t really talk about it. It was easier to fire up a cigarette and sing some old favorite songs. Except that didn’t even work well after a while. Soon, we would all have to face and accept her getting diagnosed with COPD. To be continued....

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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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