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A foot is trying to walk but is being held back by being chained to a pair of lungs and an oxygen cylinder

Living Alone With COPD

What are your living arrangements? Are you able to live independently? Are you married? Do you have family close by? Do you have a caregiver in your home, or are you more alone than you'd like?

Do you have people around to help you when you need someone? I ask this because I'd like to know how your home environment impacts your ability to live with COPD.

Sharing life's tasks with a loved one

I lived alone for close to fifteen years, my children were grown, and I was fiercely independent. When I was sixty years of age, I met someone that worked in my life. So, by the time I was diagnosed with COPD, I had a significant other, who later became my husband. He was incredibly caring, and he kept up with all of the household chores that I struggled to manage.

He passed away very suddenly a couple of years ago, and today, I am relearning to live my life independently. Very quickly, I realized how dependent I had become on him. I still deal with grief, but today, my focus is on relearning to live alone.  Only this time, I have to do it with the limitations brought on by COPD.

Life on supplemental oxygen

I am on supplemental oxygen 24/7. Dealing with oxygen itself is a game changer. Every time you need to go outside of the house, you have to make sure you have an adequate supply of portable oxygen. When leaving the house, the question used to be, "do I have my keys, my purse, my phone?". Today it includes, "do I have my inhalers, the charger for my Inogen, an extra oxygen cylinder?".

Anything more than a day trip is another whole story. There's the task of getting the home concentrator in the car, packing extra hoses, checking the list multiple times and then getting my luggage and myself loaded. I actually find it somewhat humorous. I'm worn out by the time I'm ready to leave.

The sad truth about limitations

Perhaps age, along with this disease, heightens the awareness of our limitations. Normal daily tasks are becoming harder to accomplish with each passing year. Here it is spring, and I love to garden, but cleaning out my flower beds is a huge task. I felt the same way when I was putting out Christmas decorations and taking them down after the holidays.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a flare, and after talking with my pulmonologist; I had to decide whether to call an ambulance or drive myself to the emergency room. I felt silly calling the ambulance, so I drove, but I was overwhelmed by a sense of aloneness.

Asking for help

Perhaps life would be easier if I could swallow my pride and ask for help. I know I'm not the only one, but I really don't like to do that. When my husband was sick, I had a neighbor ask me if I felt that I was going to be able to live on my own. That question scared me. 

I want to live independently, and I certainly don't want people questioning my ability to do so. So, I push myself, and I keep a lot of my limitations to myself.

Do your physical limitations caused by COPD intensify feelings of being alone even when you have people around? It's certain that our living arrangements have a defining impact on our lives. How does yours affect your life with COPD?

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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 COPD.net 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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