As My World Turns
So, here’s the thing. People know as soon as they see me that something is up.
My COPD forces me to wear supplemental oxygen 24/7. I take more time and use more energy than most people need to. When I go out or have an obligation/appointment, it will take me longer than most people to get there.
It is harder for me to get comfortable, and I will remain short of breath, even with supplemental oxygen. I will always be the first to leave the party because I can only stay as long as my oxygen canister allows.
Staying in the moment
Most days, I move like a sloth, so having the help of others makes my load lighter. As I go slower, I up the opportunity to take in more of every experience.
As I take my time, I focus on the moment. This helps me find gratitude and keep track of what I am doing so I can remember doing it.
If you can’t remember taking your medications, you are not in the moment. Regardless of my plans, my sloth speed will involve more, allowing me more 'in the moment' moments.
Doing things on my own
It is not likely that I would or could go out and about by myself. I haven’t driven or gone solo anywhere since my first major exacerbation in 2016, and I am not sure why.
It wasn't a plan, and no conscious decision was made about it. I always intended to drive again and return to the land of the living. It just never happened.
Going it alone was just not necessary, and I appreciated that, but then I came to expect it and really depended on it. My daughter drove me everywhere for the first two years.
My sons stepped in when they were needed. I never even went to a doctor's visit alone, and I had visitors every morning and night while in the hospital.
It helped to calm that anxiety of living with my new chronic illness.
Having anxiety about the future
Once my husband retired, he became my caregiver, chief cook, bottle washer, and chauffeur. We tend to do almost everything together, and he is always game for my shenanigans.
He also knows how hard I work daily to raise awareness and help those with COPD. Even though my world is no longer physical, I accomplish more now than ever.
Even though my husband is willing to do everything for me, I can see he is getting tired. The passage of time is taking its toll on him.
It struck me hard and fast that there was a 50/50 chance I would again have to adapt to a new life: living without him.
My new anxiety is about what this would look like and how swift those changes would happen. Perhaps the best time to plan that out would be in the present.
Do you have a COPD caregiver?