Woman sitting in a motorized wheelchair with alerts popping up on either side of her lungs.

Dealing With Other Illness

Have you found that after your diagnosis of COPD you now start to have other illnesses creep in? Or maybe you had other illnesses and COPD came along with them? I know I had asthma as a younger person and both my parents had COPD, but my diagnosis wasn't hereditary. If my parents told me not to do something, I would do it even more. They both smoked so I did too.

Flipping this around

I was very active - I did judo for a good 15 years and was pretty fit. It's sort of funny how they say to keep fit and exercise. Now further down the road, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and later with osteoporosis (long-term use of oral steroids). The damp weather plays havoc with my osteoarthritis along with my chest. It's not a good feeling when you are more than tired - exhausted sums it up. Your joints ache.

It sounds like I'm having a moan, but I'm sure a lot of people feel somewhat the same. I smoked for so many years, starting around the age of 12, and didn't give up until I was 55. I quit because I was rushed to the ICU. I knew then if I didn't give up I would be leaving in a box and not on two legs. I was so unfit and had lost way too much weight. I do remember thinking that I was still young enough to flip this around and I did.

That's okay

Before this, I had suffered from mental health issues like severe agoraphobia and severe anxiety. I definitely did not want to die, so the last 4 years I have fought to stay well fit and happy. It's not all happy sailing - there are days I don't want to do anything and days when I cannot go out as my anxiety and agoraphobia are too strong.

Some days my bones ache and I'm unable to exercise. But that's okay, as even fit people have off days. It's important we don't dwell on the bad things. Instead, look upon it as a day for pampering where you can do absolutely anything you like.

Life after diagnosis

Now when I go out, I use either a wheelchair or a mobility scooter as my lung function is only 20% so I can't walk far. In general, it works for me to sit when I'm out and about. I also feel a lot safer that way.

Luckily I don't suffer from hay fever so I always look forward to the summer when I can get plenty of vitamin D. I do make sure I do some form of exercise 5 days a week. I keep a journal of what exercises I do and the amount so I can see the progress I have made.

It's okay to have off days but try not to dwell on them as you will get a buzz mentally and physically by keeping fit and mobile. It's not a death sentence to have COPD - it's an illness like any other illness. There is a life after a diagnosis.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Debz passed away in October of 2021. She is deeply missed but her positivity and resilience live on through her articles. Thank you for everything, Debz.

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