Live for Today
Having a chronic illness such as COPD can cause one to blame themselves for their disease. They feel guilty over things they did in the past such as smoking and dwell on the "if only". There's nothing you can do to change the past. What is done is done. So put the past behind you, learn from your mistakes, and get on with present day living. Guilt only causes depression.
Another thing people with chronic illness often do is fear/worry over the future. Regardless of what you've been told by your doctors or anyone else, none of us knows what the future holds. Tomorrow may be the day someone finds a cure for COPD making the progression/in-curability of your disease a thing of the past. If you're going to think of the future, do so with positive thoughts, wiping the negativity from your mind. Fear/worry over the future only causes anxiety which make you short of breath - that causes more anxiety until you become trapped in an endless cycle.
I smoked for 50 years, I don't feel guilt/regret for doing so.
I realized that smoking had a hand in shaping my character. I enjoyed every one of those cigarettes, and I could never feel guilty or regret something I enjoyed. I developed COPD 18 years ago after being given the wrong medication in the ER for an asthma attack, I kept smoking. 14 years ago was the first time the doctors told me I was going to die within a year, I kept smoking. Nine years ago (while visiting my grandchildren) I ended up in the hospital on ventilation with a death prognosis again. I didn't want the last memory my grandchildren had of me to be on a stretcher gasping for breath. I made a bargain with God, that if he let me get well enough to leave the hospital, and I could see my grandchildren wave goodbye to me as I left to go back home, I would give up the thing I loved almost as much as my grandchildren, my cigarettes.
I left the hospital 2 days later, and I never smoked another cigarette.
These days, according to my doctors and test results I should be dead and they don't know why I'm not. I don't fear/worry about having or not-having a future. I leave that in God's hands. I live each day as it comes and make it the best day I can. So you don't think it was easy for me to stop smoking, even now, (after 9 years), I still want a cigarette and the day I'm ready to die, I'm going to have that cigarette and enjoy every puff. I am telling you this only to let you know, the future is not guaranteed nor lost to anyone. So stop worrying about what's going to happen tomorrow, or if you will even have a tomorrow, and enjoy today.
Guilt, depression, fear and anxiety serve no useful purpose when dealing with COPD. The only things they do is worsen your symptoms and make your present-day life miserable. Dwelling on the past/worrying about the future not only makes you miserable, but affects the lives of everyone you come in contact with (family, friends, coworkers), usually in a negative way making them miserable too. It could be one of the reasons why sometimes you feel none of them have your back. So, push that guilt and fear away, release yourself from harmful depression and anxiety.
Make today a beautiful day, live, love and enjoy it to the best of your ability.
Forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you think you made, even if you smoked/smoke: You didn't cause your COPD.
But now that you have COPD, I advise anyone that smokes to "QUIT NOW". If I can quit after 51 years of smoking so can all of you. The improvement to your breathing and quality of life will be worth it. Lastly, no matter how bad things get, face each day with hope, optimism and a smile. I know for me, my day is always better if I start it off with a smile and a prayer of thanks.
Breathe deep and easy.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on March 2, 2018, Mary Ultes passed away. Mary was an engaged advocate for the COPD community who strived to help people live fulfilling lives. She is deeply missed.
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