Chances are, you or someone you know has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), an umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is a common disease -- more than 12 million U.S. adults are estimated to have COPD. There is also evidence that close to 24 million people have impaired lung function, indicating a vast under diagnosis of COPD.
Interesting facts, yes, but when it comes right down to it, when you're the one who has COPD, it's not the millions who matter most. It's just you, and the people closest to you, who must live day-by-day, night-by-night, breath-by-breath with the challenge of COPD.
In honor of COPD Awareness Month, I'm introducing you to four people living with COPD. We've met Eileen and Tim and will later meet Ken. Join me now to meet Dee and see for yourself how she is living - not dying - with COPD. Learn how COPD is no longer a death sentence; and why it doesn't have to be about isolation and illness, but being part of community and living well. This is what living with COPD should be all about.
Occupation: Business owner
When were you diagnosed?
Three years ago.
What was your reaction to the diagnosis?
I was numb. I had been in the hospital for six days, and I was so ready to go home. No one explained what COPD was, so I was not as worried as everyone else seemed to be. When I researched it later, I was upset to learn I had in incurable, but worst of all, progressive disease.
What was the reaction of your family and friends?
At first they seemed more upset than I was. Now, except for my husband, they really don't understand what it is all about. I think they are afraid to hear about it. I have been teaching my husband, and it seems to have helped him. I have improved so much, I am sure that has helped as well. Sometimes I have a difficult time convincing my family that I am not as bad off as they think.
Do you use supplemental oxygen?
I did for a while, but not now. I am so fortunate.
Do you take inhaled medications?
Yes, Advair and Atrovent.
Do you exercise regularly? If so, what do you do?
I did for almost three years. I have been slack about regular exercise lately. I keep busy with work and I am so tired at night. I was going to the gym for Body Pump (weight training) for one hour twice a week, three if I could. I have an old aerobic video for beginners that I was doing, and I did the treadmill faithfully for two years. Now I walk when I can and keep active, but the other things are very important, so I may be back at it again. I guess I am on hiatus. Lol
What is your biggest limitation from COPD?
Aerobic activity is difficult. I can't hike, and walking uphill is a slow process. Sometimes I get winded doing very little, and sometimes I fly around like everyone else. It is so unpredictable. No one seems to know where the good days come from, but we just enjoy them.
What has been most surprising in your journey with COPD?