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A trip to the mall.

After I’ve struggled to walk into the mall with Woody (portable oxygen) I casually fake a phone call to catch my breath. I like to believe that nobody can hear me gasping, but when I’m pouring sweat from a 30 yard walk, I have to act casual.

I start my journey into the mall, observing that there are a lot of people, a lot of young people. I admire their effortless breathing while they talk. I walk into a clothing store and beginning to look at the clothes I can try on without losing my breath. That annoys me, not being able to try on whatever I want.

Next store, my gosh, it’s about 40 yards. Okay, walk slowly but not too slowly. I make sure my cannula doesn’t look weird and I’m not breathing too hard. I put in a lot of effort into not standing out more than I already do (I’m pulling Woody).

As I’m walking, I look at the athletic girls and become envious of there muscular legs and lungs. Dang it, here comes a couple. They are eating each other up, I wish I could do that – laugh, talk and breathe.

I walk into a store and start looking around but I have to be weary of Woody because the racks are clustered. Sometimes people kick my oxygen accidentally or almost trip on it, it sucks.
After I’ve looked at a few stores and my legs are aching, I go to a Starbucks and order a green tea latte w/ coconut milk, no ice. And I look at people.

I look at the women with children, the athletic girls, the young couples, the old couples and everyone else.

A part of me breaks slowly. Jealousy and slight anger tingle in me. They are so lucky, so lucky to have healthy lungs. So lucky to take full, long breaths. So lucky to run, have sex, to live without worry.

I finish my latte and go home.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Janet Plank moderator
    2 years ago

    Oh FullyAlive I wish I could give you a hug across these miles. These things can be so difficult because they live on in our minds and are still part of us. Just like Woody is part of you in the present. We all cope with things differently.

    I know that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a support system and found one and more online. Some go to therapists or get antidepressants. I don’t know if you are looking for any of this, but it can be helpful. Your doctor can advise you on this and it would be good to hear his/her recommendations. A support system can help you to find out that you aren’t alone. That others feel similar loss.

    We are all unique in our disease, and all cope with things differently too. What helped me was to grieve. Just like if a loved one died, my past life did. Everything is still in my memories, but I was ready to move ahead into my new life of acceptance. I do go backwards and face some depression, but I let it go again, with that is more peace.

    Mary wrote about Mourning the Death of Previous Life. This makes sense.

    I do want to tell you that I so appreciate your story, your words took me with you, as did your experience. Thank you for sharing.

    Janet (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    It’s our pleasure FullyAlive. Hang in there!!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Edi Mesa author
    2 years ago

    Thank you

  • Casey Hribar moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi FullyAlive,

    I read your story, and then re-read it, and then re-read it a third time. It was so beautiful and poignant. In all sincerity, somewhere during my second read through I had tears in my eyes. Your writing was so effortless, and painted such a perfect, yet painful, picture. First of all, I am truly in awe of you, and how you view the world. Not only are you such a fighter when it comes to your COPD, but also when it comes to your inner monologue and feelings. I appreciated the witty tactics you used, like faking a phone call, while also feeling the pain and longing you described while watching others. You pointed out so many simple things that those without COPD can take for granted, and created such an eye-opening piece. I reveled in all of the minute details of your story, and could truly picture you wheeling Woody though the stores and feeling exasperated both physically when walking, and emotionally when witnessing those around you. I feel like I may even be talking in circles a little bit, because I am still grappling with how amazing of a story this was to read, please forgive me if that is the case. This just really struck me as a reader.

    Ultimately, I just want to sincerely thank you for sharing that with our community, and for painting such a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching piece that I, as well as many of our community members, will remember for a long time to come.

    Sending warm wishes and gentle hugs your way! Best, Casey ( Team)

  • Edi Mesa author
    2 years ago

    Thank you

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