Imagine what it would feel like to take a breath when your lungs were already full of air. Try this. Take in a deep breath. Hold it in for three seconds and don’t exhale. Now try taking another breath, and another one. It’s not easy, is it? This is a feeling some people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) live with every day of their lives. Simple activities like walking up stairs or on a gradual incline are an everyday struggle for people living with COPD. Most people don’t spend time thinking about their breathing, but for some, it consumes their daily life.
Since my diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, I have had to make significant changes to my life. I’ve had to adapt to a new reality. As time passes, I’ve developed an understanding of what my limits are. The main symptoms I have are shortness of breath, feeling tired and coughing – especially in the morning. I struggle to climb up the stairs and if I walk on slopes, no matter how small the incline, I get out of breath.
Now with my experience of living with the condition, I do things differently. I have to perform activities slower. I take my time with everything that I do. I have to be sure not to panic, and to try and control my breathing, remain calm and take deep breaths.
The most accurate way I can describe my breathless feeling is helpless. Having COPD is incapacitating and you can’t help feeling powerless and afflicted.
It’s a tough disease but there are steps you can take to avoid your health deteriorating. My advice to others living with COPD is to ask for help and guidance from your doctor and also from other people that suffer from the disease. Contact patient support groups if you can. This can help you take control. So the bottom line is if we have cleaner air, people like me and thousands of others could have a fighting chance to live a decent life with COPD. It is sad that I am stuck indoors more than I am able to go outdoors.
First published: May 3, 2019