Living with COPD part two: accepting your diagnosis

My breathing and heart_meds
My breathing meds, clockwise from upper left: Metoprolol (Generic for Lopressor), chamber for use with Symbicort inhaler, Prednisone, Fluticasone Propionate (Generic for Flonase), Montelukast (Generic for Singulair), Zyrtec, Benadryl, Atrovent ipratroprium bromide inhaler, Ventolin alburterol inhaler, Symbicort inhaler*

Part two of living with COPD is about accepting your diagnosis. When you’re first diagnosed, you may be in denial, like I was. After my first hospitalization, I just wanted to return to “normal”. For me, that meant taking some natural supplements, but not a laundry list of prescription medications. They had me on a bunch of new stuff that I didn’t understand at the time, and nobody adequately walked me through it all.

Consequently, I was in and out of the hospital due to my lack of compliance with the recommended regimen. I wanted to believe that I could “get well” and resume my former life. I had not yet come to the conclusion that it was my former life. It took a few years to achieve that level of acceptance.

I tried eliminating meds and I got sicker. I tried getting exercise and that, too, made me sicker. I have to be honest here, I never have made any serious attempts at modifying my diet – and I know that nutrition plays a significant role in overall health, but so far I still haven’t developed that level of self-discipline yet.

Time and again my breathing was compromised and wheezing returned. Time and again I was admitted to the hospital for COPD exacerbations. There have been other issues as well, but the breathing problems have been the most common reason for my hospital stays. Furthermore, while I may discuss those other issues in additional blog posts, they are not the focus of today’s message.

What I would like to impart here is that the longer we remain in denial about whatever condition it is we have been diagnosed with, the worse it is likely to get. Denial will keep us from taking the necessary steps to prevent further problems that could have been minimized or even avoided. Not only that… but when denial keeps us from following the doctor’s orders, they may even choose to drop us as patients. I have been fortunate that this has not happened to me, but I have had to change doctors of my own accord on several occasions – which is again, a subject for another post.

We want to be in control of our lives. We don’t want to let other people dictate any part of it. Giving up any measure of control feels like defeat, but compromise is not defeat: as a matter of fact, it can be vital to our survival. It is important to choose our battles wisely, and live to fight another day.

*in addition to the pictured meds, I use a nebulizer and these are only my breathing meds & a heart medication. I also take medication for acid reflux as well as certain supplements.

Have you been diagnosed with COPD or another progressive illness? How have you managed to cope? Tell me about it in the comments below!