Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has totally turned my life upside down. I don’t do what I could do before, but I now have more time for the things I enjoy.
My asthma started around my early twenties and I had a bout of pneumonia when I was 26. The breathing and wheezing continued to slowly worsen over the years but it never really concerned me as I just put it down to my age.
In 2006, aged 47, I was going through some personal issues when I started having more asthma-like problems – the usual shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing was now more pronounced. I had been diagnosed with asthma for some years by this stage but something just didn’t feel right. I went to see a specialist at Prince Charles Hospital and was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
I think I went numb in the beginning and I couldn’t believe it. I was in complete denial for the first five years.
It was 16 December 2011 when my doctor pointed to the words “severe emphysema” on a CT result. That’s when it hit me.
I’ve got EMPHYSEMA. So, since then I’ve tried to do everything possible to control this condition.
In the beginning I didn’t want anyone to worry, especially if I got short of breath in a shopping centre. It also took me ages to use the handicap parking spot even when I had my parking permit as I always thought others needed that space before me.
I went through the first couple of years filled with anxiety and a touch of depression at times as well.
After some research and discussions with friends and medical professionals I started to see COPD with new eyes – a new understanding. This took a lot of the pressure off and I began to relax and breathe. I started focusing more on my meditation and mindfulness as this was something that I had done many years ago but had stopped due to a busy lifestyle. My biggest defence for this condition today is being self-educated in all aspects of COPD and all that can improve my life.
I feel I still lead an active life doing my gardening and visiting friends as much as possible. Sometimes things just need to be planned ahead of time if it’s going to be a long trip. Gardening may take twice as long now but I get to enjoy it twice as much. Life is good.