The psychological recovery process is very similar to the grief cycle, how someone feels when a loved one dies. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross found that anytime we experience a major change in life, we grieve for the old in order to make room for the new.
One of the Stages of Grief is bargaining. This is the stage where participants feel tempted to postpone the inevitable. You might try to switch brands, smoke only at home or only at work. You might also try to make deals and empty promises.
This is my story!
Over the 20 years that I smoked I never smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day and I often quit for periods of several months to even years. My idea wasn't to quit for all time! I was thoroughly convinced that I LIKED smoking so much that I was willing to bargain. "I’ll clean out my lungs from time to time" so I won't have to give up my "friend" or my health! I kept saying "look at George Burns! - I hardly smoke at all and not all the time.”
Well, Sickerettes didn’t keep their end of the bargain! (They never do!) On March 14, 2010 I was diagnosed with COPD after going to the hospital for an upper respiratory infection! ME! The guy who had bargained with his Sickerettes to smoke just once in awhile and quit from time to time! COPD is incurable and will get worse over time!
Here I am 5 Years later. I’ve done everything I can think of to protect what lung health I have left but it isn’t easy! And it’s very Expensive! I miss around a day a Month from lung related illness. I have the best insurance because I use it a lot! And it takes up a good chunk of my check.I always hit my maximum copay. I have a gym membership because lack of exercise is a sure ticket into quick decline into disability.
Timewise I spend 2 to 3 hours working out. There are times I miss Family and Friend gatherings because I just don’t have the energy. I have to take into consideration my breathing every single minute of every single day. I can't eat at the same rate as others because I can't eat and breathe at the same time!
I take 8 medications a day, some of which will eat my bones away and others will damage internal organs. My Doctor knows this and I know this but there is no other option! It’s a trade-off.
Today it’s 92 degrees outside and here I am with the windows closed because the neighbors are having a barbeque. I can’t tolerate your perfume, her air freshener, their colds and flus. There are times when I just can’t talk anymore because I get winded from shortness of breath.
Living with COPD can mean becoming frustrated and impatient because I can't do the things I used to do. Feeling resentful when others tell me, "You don't look sick" or ask me, “How long did you smoke?” as if I somehow deserve this! It can cause me to be panicky and tense, and become dependent and demanding because it's frightening when I can't breathe.
Anxiety is another thing that goes hand in hand with my COPD. I’m anxious about my day ( What triggers will I face today?), anxious about my work ( Will I get fired for missing so much work?), anxious about my Family (Will they abandon me when I get really sick?), anxious about my future ( How will I cope when I get physically helpless and on 24/7 Oxygen?), just plain anxious! Studies have shown that this isn’t just a lack of coping well. It’s caused by physiological changes in our brains when we are deprived of Oxygen from time to time. My brain is different from yours!
I’m not complaining here. It is what it is and I do pretty da%# well adjusting to it most of the time. I’m doing my best to draw a true picture of what Living with COPD is like for me so that you’ll get it! YOU do not want this disease! YET 40-50% of our Community already have it! About half of those know it and the other half don’t even suspect it!
That dead leaf wrapped in paper and dipped in thousands of deadly chemicals doesn’t care! Neither do the Tobacco Companies who manufacture them. They will gladly take your money so that you can sloooowly kill yourself!
Don’t bargain! You can’t get a fair deal!