I have to stop

Hi, I’m 55 years old and was diagnosed with COPD in 2014. It was a very confusing time as I had gone to the hospital, thinking I had pneumonia (I did), but all of a sudden my entire body shut down and I coded right there in the ER. I was intubated and put in ICU for 10, then step-down for 3, then went home.

I am sure during this time a lot of information was given to me about COPD but I retained none of it. I started smoking cigarettes when I was 11 and was unable to quit once I went home, and for the past three years, while I’ve experienced SOB, things have generally been okay. I sleep with oxygen at night, use my inhalers, and take a travel tank of oxygen everywhere I go.

Until the last 6 weeks or so. All of a sudden, I started experiencing extreme SOB and acute respiratory failure, one episode after another, and each time ended up in an ambulance, then the hospital. Every time they tell me I HAVE to quit smoking, which I know I do, as these episodes have been getting closer and closer together. I haven’t been able to quit on my own despite tremendous support from friends and family and numerous attempts.

After this last hospitalization, something changed for me. I felt something inside of me shift – like, “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t smoke anymore, I want to be free of this.” A friend with COPD told me about a smoking cessation program at a local medical center and I immediately signed up, paid for it, and committed to it (it begins November 7). With the help of my sister, I found out that I qualify for pulmonary rehabilitation, a total of 36 sessions, that Medicare will cover. I also decided to begin counseling to help go with the no smoking class and for extra support, and found out I qualify for that as well.

Essentially, I was so scared after this last hospitalization that I finally, for the first time, made a firm decision. Everything I do from here I want to be proactive, positive, leading me on a path back to better health. Quitting smoking is the first step, I know that. I am scared and I am praying like crazy that these things work, but I am not leaving myself room for doubt. I can do this. I can be a nonsmoker. I WILL be a nonsmoker. I know I will still have COPD but I know it won’t be like this, every moment lived in fear, terrified to leave the house because of associated incontinence, tired of alarming my friends and family everytime I end up in the hospital, afraid to make a single move for fear of missing the mark. It is possible to get better.

I have to stop. And I will. I know that may sound like a weak assertion at this moment, but it’s what I’ve got to work with. All good thoughts appreciated. Thanks.

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