Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Views Like This

How can one regret any part of a life that provided views like this?  I have seen and visited a lot of places in my lifetime. At one point in my life I was very active.  Having COPD has changed that for me.


I remember several years ago, before I was diagnosed with this illness, having a hard time catching my breath during trips and activities.

I used to walk, run, jog, hike, iceskate, bike ride, take trips and dance the night away on girls night out.  Not once in a while but all the time.

I first noticed the shortness of breath being a thing while walking around my neighborhood about 7 years ago.  I thought it was only  because of my being tired that day.  I remember thinking how odd it felt to feel like I had run marathon when I had only been halfway around the block.

My activity level didn't decrease.  I kept doing all the things I loved; though it became increasingly difficult.

One day in particular,  while living in South Florida, I took a short trip to a lighthouse an hour away.  Part of the tour was a climb up the staircase to the top of the lighthouse. I reached halfway and could go no further. This was very upsetting because I didn't  understand why.  Looking back, the clues were there.

It was on a trip to Colorado and Wyoming 4 years ago or so when I really started to notice. I had to buy a walking stick in a gift shop at  the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone. My tour day wasn't done but I felt so out of breath and just wanted to collapse.  I still didn't know why, but was determined not to let it ruin my trip.

Things continued to gradually get worse.  I chalked it up to just getting older.  Halfway through my 40's at the time, that's the only thing that made sense. I continued to go on vacations and outings, becoming increasingly aware of this new problem.

Fast forward to October of 2016, I became very ill.  Intense coughing, short of breath, weakness, etc. I thought it was the flu so I took the usual over-the-counter medicines for it.  During this illness that I thought was the flu, there was a big fire on the mountain above the valley where I was living in South Carolina. The winds pushed the smoke into the valley and blanketed the whole area.

I was taken to the hospital because I couldn't breathe much at all.  The smoke was making my cold worse. It was here that I learned I didn't have the flu at all.  I had pneumonia. It was during that hospital stay that they found I also had COPD.  I didn't know enough about COPD at the time to be devastated by the new diagnosis.  At that point, I was naive on the subject and believed there would be a cure for me.

The hospital treated and released me 6 days later. At home, I began researching COPD. The more I read on this disease, the more it all started to make sense. I was permanently ill.  Forever.  No cure.  No hope of getting better from that point on. Only the hope of slowing its progression.  In my mind, I searched my brain for when this could have possibly started.

As my mind scanned my memories for answers, I remembered another time I was hospitalized; 7 years ago, with pneumonia. It was so bad that they put me in a medically induced coma.   Was this it? Was this my starting point with this disease? I don't know for sure.  I only know from that point on, everything was harder.

Over the last 2 years, particularly,  my illness has gotten even worse.  I stopped smoking about 2 years ago but it hasn't slowed it.  A year ago, my doctor told me she believes I also have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Double whammy if I do.  Neither IPF nor COPD are curable.

Coming to terms with this fact has been a difficult road. Unless I get hit by truck crossing the parking lot at Walmart, I know that I will die from complications of COPD.  Especially with my particular version of this illnesses rate of progresion. I don't hide from that fact. I  don't sugarcoat it. I accept it now.  Unless a cure is found, soon, this is it.  I'm not ok with the end at such a relatively young age, but I have come to accept this as my reality.

I have no regrets in my life. Everything I have lived through had their reasons and seasons.

I am at peace with it.



2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your transparency and your audacity to help others learn about COPD. I admire your courage in telling your story. GB

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    Replies
    1. I appreciate that you took the time to comment! This made my day! Its not always easy telling a story like this. Exposing my rawness is what will help others. And that's what I came here to do.
      Love and light to you, GB!

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