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When I watch movies…

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

When my wife and I see a movie these days, I often find myself watching certain things more closely than I used to.

I pay closer attention when an actor is running up a flight of stairs or walking through crowds in midtown Manhattan.

I watch as they walk along an ocean beach and then, suddenly, jump into the oncoming waves surfacing with ear to ear grins.

Until about 8 years ago, I could do all these things. And I enjoyed every single activity.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t get a little breathless afterwards, but I didn’t think twice before doing them.

When I was finally diagnosed with Stage 4 COPD in 2011, I honestly didn’t think much of it. I had been fighting a chest infection (got them every winter like clockwork) and found that I was having great difficulty just breathing.

When the Emergency Room doctor finished examining me he asked, “How long have you had COPD?”

I replied, “COP-what?”

I stayed in the hospital for a week, prescribed various medications and then returned to work. I climbed the same subway stairs as I had for 20 years and rode commuter trains for over an hour each way.

The only difference being that I carried a tank of oxygen with me “just in case.”

We live in New Jersey and thoroughly enjoy the Four (beautiful) Seasons. We’re also blessed with 2 strong young men as sons. I mention this because that first fall/winter, 2012, I found myself unable to clean up much of the debris of Hurricane Sandy. A tree fell on our garage as did many others in our town.

When winter arrived, I attempted to shovel our walk and driveway and as I did, I felt a severe SOB within minutes. The boys could see me struggling and said, “Dad. Go inside. We’ll finish up.”

Years ago, if you’d told me I’d be relieved of shoveling duty, I’d have been ecstatic. But now, I bemoaned not being able to “carry my weight.”

That spring (2013), I sat down with my pulmonologist. He explained to me (again!) that COPD would restrict many of the activities I’d taken for granted – especially physical labor and movement.

He prescribed oxygen in portable tanks that I could “wear” as I gardened, washed the car and more. I found a simple backpack was more than adequate for the tank and I simply passed the hose/cannula through the opening made by dual zippers left slightly apart.

2014, 2015 – I sensed that I was doing less and less and in 2016, I retired. The stairs…the delays on the commuter trains, the crowds were just not as “bearable” as they were 5 years ago.

Critically important though – I knew I needed to remain physically and mentally active. I asked my pulmonologist for a prescription for pulmonary rehabilitation and he gladly provided one for 3 days a week for 3 months. He knew from prior experience that health plans will not pay for more. (Surprise! Surprise!).

2018, I’ve joined a community rehab center that provides oxygen for exercise and I attend at least twice a week. It’s a pay-as-you-go facility and the charge is about $60 a month – worth it!

I watched an iPhone video of our youngest hiking trails in Ireland that I had hiked at about the same age.

It saddens me slightly to know that my hiking, body-surfing, climbing days are over. But I know that I can still get to my rehab group, do my workout and sneak an ice-cold beer (or two – don’t tell my doctor!) in the evening as my reward.

Life is good.

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.


  • sardonicus
    6 months ago

    How can you say life is good. You must be a glass half full kind of guy. I am nowhere near as far along as you, mabye a 2 or 3. I was diagnosed in late november. I had developed a chronic cough, which did’nt concern me all that much. I thought it was a virus or even better an infection so I could take antibiotics. Then one day I was walking to the store and suddenly started gasping for air. Thats when I got scared, so I went to a clinic and they told me emphysema. I just about fell off my chair. They hooked me up with a pulmonary specialist. An old hag who I despised. There was no sympathy or kindness, as a matter of fact she was downright cruel. She told me it was my own fault for all the years of cigarette smoking and then she said Lung cancer was right around the corner. Needless to say I refused to see her anymore. I have an appointment with an other one but not until april 29. I am still smoking but I know I have to quit. I tried ecigs and was quite impressed but another member sent me a warning about them which was a bit of a drag. I think the site should be more open minded and show both sides. You never mentioned cigarettes at all. If you did not smoke how in the hell did you get this horrible decease. Now for the main reason I wanted to reply to your site. I know exactly what you mean about films. Yesterday I watched an old movie from the 80s, To Live and Die in LA. I really enjoyed it back then, the star of the film was the guy who used to be on CSI and he was quite young then. Christ he was running all over the place and all I could think of was how I used to do that I was not as active as you were, but I had a job in the 80s as a messenger for a large brokerage firm. Sometimes we had runs as we called them where we had to be at a certain bank or trust company right on time. If we failed the deal fell apart. Running around with millions of dollars of securities was exciting. If some people knew what we were carrying in our brief cases we could have been robbed. Anyway back to films, I always notice both men and women doing physical things I wish I could still do. In my case its also age, but even 4 years ago I would still run for a bus stop so I would not miss it…..sardonicus

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    1 year ago

    Welcome Kevin,
    I am looking forward to reading more about your life with COPD in the future.

  • KevinDavitt author
    1 year ago

    Thanks very much, Barbara.
    Looking forward to contributing.

  • kmcnamara86
    1 year ago

    Just diagnosed with mild copd at age 50. Very concerned. I quit smoking 20 years ago and was somewhat light smoker for about 8 years. Did have history of some mild asthma, but no real problems until 5 years ago, when I guess I had my first exacerbation. I had several more last year and was hospitalized several times. I think what caused me the most problems was working in my family’s dry cleaning business for almost 30 years and breathing in chemicals daily. I left there last year. I’m still able to bike some and light workout….so I guess I’ll just do what I can for as long as I can.

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    I’m sorry for the recent COPD diagnosis, kmcnamara86. But, the fact that they’ve caught it and you’re only 50 is definitely in your favor. Not smoking is a huge plus! Good for you!
    It can be difficult to know where to start when you first find out you have COPD. So, here’s an article that I hopefully you’ll find useful in learning to live the best life you can with COPD:

    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi kmcnamara86 and welcome – you’ve come to the right place! As Lyn as advised, being diagnosed early (at age 50) is a real plus as you can take advantage of all the therapy and treatment that is available. Once you read the article, you’ll have a much better understanding of what’s in store for you and how best to manage the condition. Certainly staying active (cycling and physical exercise) is a great place to start. We are all here to provide whatever assistance and guidance we can provide. Please feel free to access our site as often and for as long as you wish. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

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