Yes, it IS possible... you CAN live a quality life, even after you've been diagnosed with COPD. I'm not saying there won't need to be changes. You have to accept the reality that your life will never be quite the same once you've been diagnosed with COPD. But that doesn't mean you need to give up on life, not by a long shot.
Living with COPD can be challenging, especially as it progresses and your activity tolerance lessens. And it can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that can further lead to feelings of isolation. But you are NOT alone and you CAN make concrete changes that will have a huge impact on your life with COPD.
I'm going to give you some suggestions that will enable you to retain (or take back) much of your independence and improve your quality of life.
Don't Isolate Yourself... Reach Out to Others
I put this first because I think it could be the most important step you can take in your efforts to live well with COPD. When you get COPD, there is a tendency for your world to shrink. It's harder to get dressed; it's harder to get out; and you may be embarrassed by your struggles to breathe or by having to lug an oxygen container everywhere you go.
But the truth is, at least 12 million people in the United States alone have COPD (and experts estimate there may be another 12 million who haven't been diagnosed yet). So you are definitely not alone. Chances are, there are others in your family, in your social group and/or in your neighborhood who also have COPD. It's nothing to be ashamed of.
There are also lots of people these days on supplemental oxygen. After my mom starting using oxygen, I was surprised to notice how many other people we'd see out in the store and restaurants on oxygen. And I'm a nurse! It shouldn't have been a surprise to me.
So don't allow yourself to become a shut in. Continue to participate in as many social activities as you can tolerate, even if you don't stay as long or go as often. Talk openly with friends and family about how you feel and what kind of help or adjustments you need. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn how accommodating the people who care about you will be.
Stay as Physically Active as You Can
There's an old saying, "Use it or lose it", and this applies to people with COPD too. It's true, activity is harder when you feel breathless. But that doesn't mean you should resign yourself to the rocking chair and stop doing any activity. Instead, just adjust.
If you can still get outside, take a walk around the block once a day... or halfway around the block... or down to the mailbox or whatever you can tolerate. The key is to get some kind of exercise.
If you can't tolerate that much exercise, then try walking around the house every hour or two. Take breaks to rest if you need to, but just keep moving, so your muscles don't weaken and your joints don't stiffen up. If even walking that amount is beyond you, then try doing some gentle chair exercises.