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Live for Today.

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 grandchild, 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.

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.


  • LindaM
    3 years ago

    I have recently been told that I probably have less than a year to live. I was retested and have only 17% of my lungs left and a CT scan shows a “growth” in my left lung. The drs can’t do a biopsy cause my lungs would probably collaspe so we won’t know what it is until they can do another CT scan in two months. It could be scar tissue, slow growing cancer, fast growing cancer or a benign tumor. But my new dr said he though that’s it a 60% chance of cancer with less than a year to live. I really need to read what you wrote here because I have gone from living every day to the best of my ability with joy and happiness to livig in fear and stress. I need to refocus and you helpe remind me of that.

    Hospice has contacted me and thanks to your article on hospice, I am going to accept their help. They were up front that I can come and go , just like you said, so I am going to give it a try.

    Thank you so much for being here for us. You have a made a diference in my life and I feel like you understand what I am going through better than anyone else…Thanks

  • Mary Ultes author
    3 years ago

    Hi Linda, I understand more than you know. I too have a “growth” on my lung that can’t be biopsy for fear of it causing my death. I also have water buildup on my heart the doctors can’t remove for the same reason. My last CT was done over a year ago & at that time,(do to the size it has become), I was sent to the cancer clinic. Only to be told that to treat it with radiation,or keno would only diminish my breathing further & cause my death. I am at a point that there is no med or treatment that will do me any more good, so I don’t stress it. I live day to day, & am thankful for everyday.

    Both my pulmonologist & cardiologist told me there is nothing more they can do for me. So as of last year I stopped going to them & only see my GP every 6 mon. for blood work & to get my scrips renewed,(if any new treatment come out that I quiafly for he will let me know), & every time I see him he is amazed I’m still alive. I have been living under that “less than 6 mon to live” for 9 yrs now.

    I don’t know if you are going into a Hospice facility or are getting home Hospice care. I stay in my own home & the doctor, nurses, & aids came there. My husband also had COPD & we were on Hospice together. He died 6mon & 1 week after we went on Hospice. But his attitude was different from mine. Once the doctor told him he had 6 mon to live, he gave up fighting. Never give up, & never do or take any meds you don’t feel completely comfortable with.

    Hospice is a big help, but don’t let them put you on med you are not use to, or you don’t want to take. I have heard not all Hospice are as good as the one I was on in NM. when i moved to Michigan I went off Hospice because they did not supply the liquid oxygen I needed.I didn’t do well on a concentrator & I was not going on one because they didn’t want to pay for liquid. I know what helps me & what doesn’t & I will not accept less or change what work because Hospice wanted me to. Make sure you don’t let them run your care. Take charge & tell them what you are comfortable with.You can try things like morphine,but take it only if you want to & it helps you.

    The most importing things, stop stressing, keep a positive attitude & keep living as best you can. Don’t let anyone tell you how long you have to live. None of us has an expiration date stamp on us. Only God know when we will die.Good luck, stay strong & breathe deep & easy. Mary

  • Bonnie
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this, Mary. I still need to forgive myself, and haven’t completely done so.

  • Mary Ultes author
    3 years ago

    Keep working on it Bonnie you’ll get there. Thing of it this way if you had diabetes would you feel guilty & blame yourself because you ate to much candy or drank to much soda. Blaming yourself for getting COPD is no different. You didn’t cause you COPD. You like me were one of the unlucky smokers that happen to get COPD. Only “Twenty percent” of smokers get COPD. So forgive yourself, breathe deep & easy. Mary

  • matilda
    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, Mary. It’s good to be reminded that fear and worry don’t help COPD and, instead, make it worse.

  • Mary Ultes author
    3 years ago

    Going on a guilt trip also makes COPD worse by adding depression that none of us need. Forgiving one’s self for getting sick is a must if you want to live the best live you can.Breathe deep & easy Mary

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