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The progress of COPD can be slowed.

The Progress of COPD Can Be Slowed

Summer has arrived. It is July, and here I sit feeling blessed as the sun shines through the day room window. It might have taken a little while, but for now at least I do seem to have found the right formula to halt my decline into oblivion, after having rode the crest of COPD through every stage, until some years ago I found myself with only 25% lung function. Stage 4, otherwise called End stage. Sounds like a death sentence doesn’t it? A term I am not impressed with. Even less afraid of.

COPD forced me to look after my body. To take note. Take care and listen to every warning sign my body growled at me. My intuition became keen. Until I knew, by instinct, if I was heading for a spell of illness. Sometimes, it was I were quite simply doing things wrong. Like not pacing myself properly. I became aware if I wanted to live I had to take action when needed. I learned what not to do. Sometimes the hard way. Staying away from large closed events in winter. Walking away from those with sniffling colds or sneezing. Asking friends or family to stay away if ill. They of course understood. Making sure I had each winters flu shot. And having a supply of medication at home ready for fast self treatment if needed.

I researched and learned as much about COPD as I could. Took an active interest in lung conditions. I worked and still do, as a volunteer with those working to improve our lives in lung care. Including specialists. Until I felt the best doctor was myself listening to my body.

It is many years since I was informed I only had 25% lung function. At times life has been difficult. I had to learn to cope with breathlessness, and to find ways to make it less so. Learning how to deal with infections quickly became important, even to recognizing when I have a pneumonia setting in and medicating fast. Make no mistake. Living with COPD is a learning game. The result is today I have about the same lung function, and feel better in myself, than I did five years ago, before I was prescribed oxygen.

I know cold, damp, or windy weather is bad for me, and so my home is heated 24/7 for six months a year. My life sometimes revolves around the weather. I can tell when air pressure and what weather conditions will make me more breathless than usual. On the plus side I also know when I should have an easier time as high pressure calm days, with the temperature in the upper 70’s to low 80’s F, (23 – 30 C) make for blissful, less breathless days for me. If only our climate was like that all the time, I often think.

It is essential to have indoor hobbies for bad weather days. Writing, photography, and meteorology are all interests I enjoy and can work on indoors. We must also learn how best to exercise indoors. Not to exercise at all is not an option. I never waste the long warm days of summer. That is the time to travel, take lots of photographs, and enjoy the sunshine. I learned to Google walk when I planned on visiting somewhere new. Is it ok to drive my scooter there? How hilly is it? Is the vacation accommodation suitable? Are there steps to be climbed? Is there an elevator? So many questions that are important to ask. But – we can not only live a very long life with COPD, but a fulfilled, enjoyable one too. Whatever stage of your illness.

I learned through the years through being proactive that COPD can be managed. And that the progress can at all stages be slowed. I have also learned that it is far more likely death will get us from a cause other than COPD. Unless of course you do not obey the rules and invite the reaper.

If you want to live a very long life even though you have COPD, the simple rule is don’t smoke. Exercise daily, move that body. Sleep as well as you can. Eat a good diet. Do not stress too much. Use oxygen if prescribed it. Socialise and attend events including dining out. Enjoy hobbies. Laugh a lot. Take a vitamin D supplement if needed to help your bones and immune system (speak with your doctor first). But most of all be positive, and enjoy your life.

Till I write again. Offer a smile because that will make someone’s day. And of course, breathe 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.


  • Janet Plank moderator
    2 years ago

    Derek, this article speaks volumes and is easily understood and meant to be shared. Thank you.

  • angiefairydust
    3 years ago

    This story has helped me understand more about helping myself with copd I’ve only been diagnosed this year but struggle most days. I also have arthritis which restricts my movement so am going to have to find other ways.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    Thanks for letting us know, angiefairydust. We appreciate you taking the time to post your comment and the value you found in our published material. Please know that you are always welcome here.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • River Daniel
    3 years ago

    Derek, your writing is helping me. I say it that way because I am a writer and I know how much it means to me when someone says they’ve been helped by something I’ve written. I will keep reading and comment when so moved. Thank you for being there.

  • Derek Cummings author
    3 years ago

    Many thanks for your kind words 17ninja. It is always good to know my blogs are helping those on the same journey. Breathe Easy. 🙂

  • lynn2u
    3 years ago

    Oh, and I have been a non smoker for about 17 years, but I was a smoker for about 40 before that. I am 75 years old and stage 4, like Derick.

  • Derek Cummings author
    3 years ago

    Many thanks for your comments Lynn as your comments show that putting into practice self help techniques really does work. Also showing for us at stage 4 can and do lead an active life. Breathe easy. 🙂

  • lynn2u
    3 years ago

    so hajppy to have read this story. I am on the same page as Derick. Pulmonary rehab that includes exercise is key, in my opinion. Variety helps too. I do Taijiquan qigong, yoga, both of which include deep breathing similar to pursed lip breathing, swim, again, great for learning to breath properly, walk, do housework and most importantly manage and control my stress including all stress brought on by MY OWN NEGATIVE PANICY THINKING (which is most of it)..

  • sindeet
    3 years ago

    Hello….Although your story is inspiring, I myself have been diagnosed with COPD and some days I feel I can hardly go on! I just turned 58 years old and have had this horrible disease for over 10 years. I get so depressed and feel very lonely at times. I am married and my husband is supportive, but I miss out on so many things! I can not do the things that I use to be able to do and feel “Stuck”! I have good days and I have bad days. But the bad days are outliving the good! My chest hurts so bad some days and then the next day I will feel fine. Some days I can breath really well, and then there are days where I can hardly catch my breath. I take anxiety meds because I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks which I know is from my COPD! It very frustrating to say the least. I wish this disease on NOBODY! It is horrible. I was a smoker but have not smoked in over 3 years. So if you smoke QUIT!! And if you dont, NEVER start! I wish I would of known then what I know now!

  • Jenn Patel
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing, Sindeet! We really hear you on the experience of ups and downs each day. You’re not alone here – please know you can come by any time to share how you’re doing! Also, congratulations on quitting smoking! That is wonderful and one of the best things you can do.

    You may also be interested in pulmonary rehab programs, if you haven’t been involved in one already. Here is some more information on that: Many people in the community find it helps with the day-to-day ups and downs.

    Keep in touch – there are many people here who really get what you’re going through and we’re all here to support each other.

    Jenn (Community Manager,

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