The Story of My COPD, Part 4

If you read parts 1, 2, and/or 3 of my story, you'll see that there are many reasons for my COPD. The story has twists and turns. In my 64 years, I have had many happy times. I have a wonderful husband of 42 years. I have three beautiful children and one grandson who is the light of my life.

Joys and hardships

I have raised four German Shepherds with a sense of pride. I taught them to be obedient and respectful. They were a big part of our family members' lives. My latest one is turning 12 next month and she will probably be our last. Next, we will adopt a mature dog to save it from euthanasia. I have had a variety of cats having as many as six at one time. We are now down to three cats and no more are being admitted.

I was born a preemie, in a time when doctors could do little more than watch as you fought for life. I was sent home to smoking home. Every adult in the house began smoking by 16 years of age.

I lived in an industrial city. A steel town. I was born and raised here, and I am immensely proud of my hometown. The very steel mills that polluted our city also provided families with great health benefits and good paychecks. Such was life in those days, in fact, that I could stay home and raise my children. Good thing too, because a gallbladder surgery caused blood clots to travel to my lungs and I spent almost a year getting well again.

Business skills and smoking habits

Before I was married, I was a hairdresser, but I was not particularly good at it so I cut that career short. I was attending a business college when I met my future husband. When I did go to work after having my children, I worked in offices that produced steel products, a world-class Children’s Hospital, and the Port of Hamilton where every commodity is offloaded. I ended my career by teaching what I had learned about business and finance. I smoked up to the day I was diagnosed in October 2015.

I was a smoker for some of my childhood and all my adult life. But I was a quitter. Education was always the gateway to my freedom and every time I signed up for a new course, I would quit smoking, and then as the summer came around, I would start again.

Smoking in society

Smoking was acceptable. In my early adulthood, everyone smoked, and they smoked everywhere. If you do not believe me, have a look at the ’50s and '60s television shows like “Call the Midwives’ and ‘Mad Men’. There were no non-smoking sections in restaurants. There was no protection for employees in the workplace. The hairdresser’s salon was the worst, between all the women smoking and the fumes from chemical perms and color treatments.

When people tell me that they cannot get past the guilt of smoking or that their children make them feel guilty, I say go back to when we were maturing and you will see that everyone smoked. If you did not smoke, you inhaled second-hand smoke, and that was just as bad. We are wiser today because we have the knowledge and education that we did not have back in the day!

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