More good days. It's possible to have them, even with COPD, says Sarah,
who found out 3 years ago that she had the disease.
up on Sarah. She began coughing more often, and the coughing lasted longer.
Every day it got a little bit harder to breathe. One day she found she couldn't
walk up the basement stairs without having to stop and catch her breath. And
then she began coughing and couldn't stop.
"It was scary," she
says. "I'd try to take a breath, but I'd cough instead. I was coughing up all
this liquid—it felt like I was drowning. I just sat on the step and hung onto
that railing until it stopped. It seemed like a really long time."
After that, Sarah knew she had to quit smoking.
had been telling me for years to quit, but I just couldn't," says Sarah, 67.
"But when my doctor told me I had COPD, I knew I really had to do it. My mom
had COPD but never quit smoking, and her last years were really hard."
It took a year, a few tries, the help of a quit-smoking group at a local
hospital, and medicines before Sarah was able to quit for good. But it turns
out that, for Sarah, quitting smoking isn't the toughest part about having
"Not being the person I used to be—it makes me really sad
sometimes," Sarah says. "When I was in my 20s and 30s, I worked full-time and
chased four kids around the house. Some days now I can't even get dressed
without taking a break. And I need to take this oxygen tank with me every time
I leave the house."
Feeling depressed and angry makes it hard to
make it through the day, Sarah says. But going to a COPD support group every
week at her local hospital helps a lot.
"I fit in there. I'm not
the only one with a hose up my nose," she says. "I can talk about how mad I am
that I have this disease. And it helps me to hear how other people are dealing
The group helps Sarah stay on track with her pulmonary
rehab program, medicines, and diet. She and a friend walk in the mall every
morning. Sarah says that those walks make her feel strong. These days she's
breathing a little easier too.
"Every time I have a good day, it
makes me want to keep trying. There are lots of days I don't want to even get
up," she says. "But then I think about taking my walk or seeing my friends, and
I want to get out there. COPD may slow me down, but it isn't going to stop me."
This story is based on information gathered from many people living with this condition.
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