A Slower Lane
Like so many others, a part of my success in life is measured by how busy I am. Life begins at the crack of dawn with the ringing alarm rudely awakening me and doesn’t slow until late into the evening. Work, activities with family, social engagements and a full to-do list that never ended. Instant gratification is expected. Life is taken for granted. COPD taught me differently.
I still have to rest
Every breath I take is precious and I must use them wisely. After six years, I am used to living my life on oxygen. Subconsciously my thoughts are on how much I can do and how far I can walk around my home before I have to stop to catch my breath. It might only be for a moment, but I still have to rest. The routines have become pretty automatic now, although bad breathing days still creep in to upset the weekly schedule. I think it is COPD’s way of reminding me it is still here and not going away.
My disease has taken many things from me. It has also given me back many things. It has shown me how to stop, to look and connect with not just my surroundings, but also within me. At first, I convinced myself if I read enough books or blogs about healing, I would fix myself. There must be some magic words I can say to make this all go away. What I found is a continuous acceptance of a new life and a new outlook. It wasn’t an "Aha Moment" for me. It is an ongoing journey, slow steps forward, and sometimes even more backward. There are tears and tantrums, revelations and insights.
Six years ago I spent a month in an induced coma. My husband sat by my side not knowing if I would live. I did. For quite some time I questioned why I survived. Then it became, how do I survive? Eventually, I’m happy I survived. My life is no longer full of fast-paced busyness. Instead, it is purposeful. Each breath and step has intention because they are a gift that was once taken for granted. I have fought hard for them.
Doing a rewrite
I have no choice but to acknowledge life with severe COPD will be different. It will be slower. Acceptance of that brings empowerment. I have the ability to write my life story moving forward. I can’t rewrite having a disease, but I can in how I face the challenges of that disease. That is the power we all have. When I stopped having the poor me’s and resistance to my diagnosis, my health began to change for the better. Acceptance of it gave me the opportunity to make the necessary changes for improvement.
I am enjoying this slower life. If I choose, I can spend two hours on my porch with a cup of coffee in the morning. There is no rushing and the anxiety that comes with it. I can plan a day of nothing or a day of activities. My health is my priority. My breath is something I treasure and I choose to protect it. In choosing that, I have allowed myself to live at a pace that is good for me, not the world or people around me. I have discovered eating for my health can bring a new enjoyment of food. Exercise is needed to protect my breath and doesn’t have to be a dreaded task. Meditation has become a daily practice for me and continually brings new insights into my life. I have even made a new best friend. Me!
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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