colorful pop art inspired image of a can of alphabet soup and a tank of oxygen

Alphabet Soup (Part 1)

One of my favorite soups as a child was Alphabet Soup. My brothers and I would fish around the bowl with our spoons finding words, making a game out of it. Then mom would yell at us to eat our soup before it got cold! That memory made me wonder if I was able to go through the alphabet, finding words for living a positive life with COPD. These are my words.

Words for a positive life with COPD

A - Attitude. A favorite quote of mine is,  “Your attitude determines your direction”. I can spend my day saying, “Why bother getting out of bed? I will still have COPD and be short of breath.” Instead I can have the attitude that I will try. I can get up smiling, be grateful for the day. This positive attitude makes each day better.

B - Believe. I have to believe that I can create a good life for myself, regardless of having Stage 4 COPD. I believe I can control my symptoms if I follow the knowledge I have received by my medical team and other avenues of support.

C - Challenge. By challenging myself to do more, to not give up, I am giving myself a chance at having a fulfilling life.

D - Discipline. There are days I don’t want to exercise and I want to eat all junk food. I want to sit on the couch with my tv remote and favorite bag of chips. Discipline keeps me in control of my day, staying productive, and keeping my COPD symptoms manageable.

E - Education. My doctors have a short time to spend with me during visits to fully educate me about my disease(s). It is up to me to read as much as I can, to learn symptoms, medicines, side effects, and how to manage my disease.

F - Faith. I feel having faith in a higher spirit keeps me positive, strong, and moving forward in my life.

G - Gratitude. This is something I reflect on every morning. It keeps me grounded and focused on what is good in my life. It reminds me that although I live with a chronic illness, I still have a good life worth fighting for.

H - Hope. This keeps me going. I hope each day will be a good one. I hope there will be a cure for this awful disease. I hope I will see my grandchildren grow up. Hope provides a reason to manage my disease every single day, including the bad ones.

I - Improvement. I have had many improvements in the past six years. I keep track of them in a journal to remind myself to keep going. If I have a day of bad breathing, I can look through my book and see how much I have improved. It keeps me positive, knowing it is one bad day.

J - Joys. I may have COPD, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have many joys in my life. I have them on a daily basis. Sunshine coming in my window as I sit here typing this, my dog cuddling up to me at night, an unexpected call from family is just a small portion of life’s joys.

K - Kindness. I feel there is never enough kindness in this world. I have been shown much of it when I've been in hospitals, from people I care for, and even when shopping and someone asks if they can help me. I am lucky to have kind and compassionate doctors. Showing kindness in return to another brings me much joy and adds light to my life.

L - Laughter. It is cheap medicine. It can lift me out of a gloomy mood and make everything better. I have a few shows that I know will always make me laugh. I watch one every day, or a funny YouTube video. For me, it is usually pets and their antics.

M - Mindfulness and Meditation. I use both tools as part of my disease management or just dealing with life in general. If I am panicked about something or having an anxiety attack, mindfulness will bring me to the present moment instead of what I am anxious about. It allows me to stop, breathe slowly, and focus on that, not what is ahead of me. Meditation provides me a safe way to explore my thoughts, control my anxiety, and provide calmness.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.

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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 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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