June 20, 2016

Teresa Watson – COPD

I started smoking at 10 years of age behind the bike sheds at school. At 12 years old I asked my mum if I could smoke, she obviously said a resounding ‘no’, but I replied ‘well I’m going do it behind your back anyway’. After that there was an understanding between me and mum that she would turn a blind eye to it and Dad was not to find out. Many years later I thought a had a bad cold and keep coughing and finding it had to breathe, which was unusual for me as I played a lot of sport when I was younger.  Despite this I didn’t do anything and I continued to smoke.

I was first diagnosed with COPD at 39 years of age. I woke up in a hospital bed and didn’t quite know what was going on. All I remember is a priest floating about the ward and I was thinking to myself ‘this is it, I’m only 39 and I’m goanna die’ but he was just doing his usual rounds. The doctor told me I had COPD and I didn’t even know what that meant. I went to a respiratory specialist and every appointment he would ask me ‘have you quit smoking yet?’ I felt bad about not quitting and ended up not going to the specialist appointments to avoid the question.

Once I had bad exacerbation and had to go into hospital. One of the doctors said, ‘if you don’t quit you will die’ which gave me the fright of my life. I quit right there and then after 36 years of smoking.

Now I’m 50 years old and on oxygen daily.  Sometimes I don’t feel comfortable in public with my oxygen tank and feel that it’s better to just stay home.  But I’ve learnt that if you stay positive and have a laugh it helps. I have a friend that is currently going through some of her own health problems and to keep her spirits up I send her funny selfies.