This blog post was written by Jim Nelson, an individual living with COPD.
The attitude with which you view your particular conundrums will affect your life in ways that you cannot even imagine! Strong statement? Perhaps, but let’s take a look at it.
Giving voice to the things that trouble you can help to take away their sting. If you can verbalize your gremlins, name them, describe them to another person, it gives you power over them. Talk to a spouse or a parent or a sibling or a child or a friend. If you can’t bring yourself to share with someone close to you, consider a professional counselor. They are very good at what they do, and you will be hard-pressed to tell them anything that they haven’t heard before. Many times, vocalizing your issues will allow you to begin to re-frame your experiences in a more positive fashion.
If you have a disease for which there is no cure, such as COPD, all of the worrying in the world is not going to change your situation.
I am not trying in this writing to solve all of your concerns. However, I can speak of the fears associated with COPD with a degree of authority. I was diagnosed with severe emphysema nineteen years ago. Since that time, I have spent several nights in hospitals and several weeks in a recliner doing little but gathering dust and sucking on an oxygen hose due to bouts with double pneumonia. Yes, I smoked for a lot of years, and grew up in the home of a heavy smoker, so the sins of my youth caught up with me. I was on my way toward the exit, albeit slowly, when I qualified for, and was gifted with, a double lung transplant.
Besides being inquisitive, I am remarkably stubborn. Upon reflection, that trait is probably at least partially responsible for the fact that I did smoke for all of those years. Too bad, but there isn’t a whole lot that I can do to about the past. What I did do, however, was use that stubbornness to deal with my lung issues. I mentioned research, the gaining of knowledge in order to better understand my particular demons. I subscribe to various COPD informational websites, and write and submit articles for some of them. Between my own research and that done by other contributors, I have learned a tremendous amount about dealing with COPD.
Another real source of knowledge has been my medical providers. I know enough about COPD to enable me to communicate with doctors, therapists and the like on a semi-intelligent basis. The various professionals seem to appreciate the fact that I have made the effort to learn about the disease, and they tend to respond very favorably.
I try to be very aware of my physical and emotional condition on a daily, even hourly basis. I have traded my various COPD medications for anti-rejection drugs, and I keep a plentiful stock of my various medications on hand.
Lastly, I exercise. The stubbornness of which I spoke above gets me onto the treadmill or the exercise bike or the stair-stepper six days a week. I honestly feel guilty if I miss a day for some reason. I use exercise bands to do upper body work, and play golf when I can. Since the transplant, I have added hiking in the desert and riding my new mountain bike. The exercise discipline kept me alive, it helped me to qualify for the transplant, and it helped me to recover. Now, it enables me to remain active, to live my life!
The point of all this is that life is filled with issues. You must learn to pick your battles.
We can also change our attitudes about the issues that we can affect. That’s where the research and the learning and the exercise come in. Accomplishment brings empowerment.
My exercise regimen helps to build my muscles so that they demand less oxygen to move, but it also brings on a delicious sense of self-righteousness. A sense of humor helps, also. If we can learn to laugh at life and its offerings, we can become one of the friends with which others prefer to spend time.
You really don’t have much of a choice about spending the rest of your life with you, so do whatever you can to gain or maintain a good attitude about your life. You really do deserve it!