diagnosis

I had to learn was how to listen to health care people who were leading me through the process.
At first, 'here, try this inhaler to see if it works' was not really a tough-enough message. (OK, I tried it. Now what?)

Understanding what's going on

I heard one doc in the clinic tell me "you take in too much bad air," which I interpreted as living in a polluted environment. (Maybe I should breathe better, huh?)
No, that was her description of what the definition of the whole problem is.
The point: Little by little, as people who aren't trained to understand medicine, the words like "progressive" and "chronic" mean something and we need to put that into a holistic understanding of what's going on.
The other related illnesses, like GERD, are seemingly independent -- but everything is connected. Pulmonary rehab isn't just a hobby. If you have a lung doctor and this hasn't been discussed, I suggest a second opinion. Most likely, techs will run this program and they tend to have a little more down-to-Earth vocabulary.

The more you know

And seriously, everything is on the table. The more you know about how the body works, the more you can identify when it's not working properly.
I have learned to recognize when I am struggling -- learning it earlier than before, and treating it sooner. Our hospital has a COPD clinic. I go there when I am not feeling well. In an afternoon with good chat and some TLC, I avoid the hospital.
The keeps my baseline more stable.

Learn what you can

It's a matter of learning what you can. I've outlasted one prediction. I do not intend to get cocky over this.
COPD is a monster and it's not nice to us.

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