A good life with COPD.

Last updated: June 2016

I have been diagnosed as stage 4, severe COPD for several years now. I am a retired psychologist. I learned a lot about COPD when my husband was was diagnosed in 2000, put on a respirator in emergency and then all sort of meds, oxygen and treatments until 2004 when he died of pneumonia.

When I had my first spirometry, in about 2007 and received my current diagnosis which has not changed over the past 8 years, I went through the grieving of the loss of my past very energetic, and active life. I continued to work as a psychologist in the state prison system until 2010 when I retired. I have chosen to remain medication free, and work now on exercising and nutrition, breathing exercises from yoga and positive visualization and relaxation to manage my symptoms. I am blessed with a pulmonologist who respects my decision to remain medication free and has explained and illustrated in our support group how it isn't just smoking that can cause the damage and symptoms of COPD.

I smoked for 41 years but have not smoked now for 16 years. I remain active and social, do all my own housework and volunteer as a foster mom for cats for a no kill shelter. Life is good. I have learned to enjoy what I can do and to permit myself to turn over some things to others, (for example, all my own pool care and maintenance.) I find that as long as I manage my stress, stop my work outs when I get winded, breathe properly (pursed lip breathing) with the focus on long exhales to clear the CO2) I do well. I also have to remind myself that I am doing almost as well as some without COPD considering my age (75 this year.) I feel 18 inside, but can not expect of myself the fast paced life I led at 18!!

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