Sharon Welty was first diagnosed with COPD in 2004, after many visits to the doctor.
“They kept telling me I had bronchitis and they’d give me an inhaler, which kind of made me feel worse. So I went to the doctor’s another time, and I found out I had Graves disease. [Graves disease is essentially over-activity of the thyroid gland]. They did other tests and then told me I had COPD,” she says. “They also told me I had enlarged lymph nodes in one of my lungs because of Graves disease – but they said there was not much they could do.”
At first, Welty says they put her on oxygen and she started feeling better. It wasn’t until 2008 that she suffered an exacerbation that put her in the hospital.
“I was afraid because they didn’t explain the different stages of COPD to me, and it was really scary,” she says. “Now I do all my research on the computer. I came across your website and it’s nice because you hear from other people who have the same disease and you don’t feel like you’re alone. There are other people out there that have the same thing you do.”
Welty says she started smoking when she was 14, and quit in 2004, when she was diagnosed.
“I was in the hospital for a week and you can’t smoke in a hospital. I did have urges, but by the time I got to the store to even buy any I had already lost the urge,” she says.
She is on oxygen 24/7, and says having a POC allows her the freedom to go outside and take walks more often.
“It changes your lifestyle. I’m more tired now,” she says.
A retail manager for most of her life, Welty went on disability in 2009. Living in Kissimee, FL since 2006, she says husband Robert is her source of strength and support.
“There’s nothing he won’t do for me. He’s just a loving husband and I don’t know what I’d do without him,” she says.
Her mantra for other individuals with COPD?
“Just don’t give up on yourself. Keep trying every day. That’s my motto-‘Don’t give up.’”