a man smiling overlapping the same man frowning, depicting a life shift with copd

The Shift

My life has shifted. These days I wish for a lot of things. The things that I wish for now are much different than the things I would have wished for 5 years ago, because back then, I still had hope. Experiencing the shift changes you, you become different. The shift means you finally get it through your head that nothing is going to remain the same. My age is working against me, there is no going back, and do-overs are not allowed. I am not the person I was, and I was not prepared to become the person I am.

In the beginning

When I was first diagnosed, I felt some relief knowing that there was a name for what had been happening to me. My doctor was a gentle compassionate man who never made me feel guilty or pointed a finger at me. He explained addiction to me and how it influenced and affected me. At the time I was probably his sickest patient.

I was given hope

Through respiratory rehabilitation I was given hope. The main message was that it is never too late. They encouraged me to exercise daily, watch what I was eating, and be mindful when I had anxious thoughts racing through my brain. They understood how hard it was for me to maintain my composure from time to time.

I was told by my doctors that if I wanted to keep working then I could. I could tend to my house and learn to do things in different ways. They said it might be a bit different from others my age, but with a good attitude, hope is the best way to achieve your goals.

Fighting the good fight, I believed all the time that I was the like “The Little Engine That Could’. I huffed and I puffed and worked extremely hard but in the end, I accepted my limitations. It didn’t feel like I was giving up but I was ready to compromise.

Then I accepted

Nobody realized how much I wanted to run my house, especially now that I had the time to do it. My intentions were always good. I wanted to do all of those things, but when the shift happened, I just couldn’t push any further. It is very hard for to ask others to help me do things that I think I should do myself.

Even taking a shower is very hard. It is a real fear. I know that I will come out short of breath and I will expand a lot of my energy reserve to get the task done.

Did you know that I was lonely and that I needed you more than you can imagine? I have anxiety and fears, mostly that you will leave. That something horrible will happen to you and I will be left on my own. I wish that you knew what it meant to me to have you by my side and to know that you are my strength.

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