How COPD Stole The Quality of My Life

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When Sue joined the support forum here at Smoking Cessation, she had finally come to terms with the fact that COPD was making the quality of life she wanted nearly impossible.  Something had to give and thankfully, it was the cigarettes.  

Congratulations on quitting Sue, and thanks for sharing your story.

From Sue:

I've smoked for the last 40 years. I got wheezier (blamed my asthma), started to avoid walking up hills where possible (blamed my asthma), woke up frequently at night (blamed my asthma).

But the denial washed away when, a couple of years ago,  after yet another chest infection, I was told I had COPD.

Then came my first half-hearted quit attempt that lasted 24 hours. Kept smoking and getting more breathless. Had another half-hearted quit attempt using Champix, which cut the number smoked each day (for a short time), but soon I was back to my usual 25-30 a day.

May 16, 2013:  I just couldn't breathe, so got a friend to take me to the hospital. X-ray, diagnosis spontaneous pneumothorax (lung collapse). Drain in chest for a couple of days and the lung re-inflated. Four days in hospital, and my first ever emergency admission.

I could breathe, but still didn't feel great in the weeks after I got home. I cut back on the smokes, took it outside, no smoking in the car or at work, but first thing in the morning I still got up, went outside and lit that first smoke.  I couldn't stop coughing, but the second smoke was better (or so I thought).

June 13, 2013:  I rang a friend because I couldn't breathe. She called the ambulance this time. My lung had collapsed again, this time was way more serious. It took two weeks to stabilize me enough to be transported to the main center for surgery.  

During those two weeks,  my chest drain stopped working and I couldn't breathe on a number of occasions.

My O2 saturation was in the low 80s at times, and I was unable to stand without support. Finally had the surgery, yay, and another three weeks in the hospital before I came home where I've made major life changes.

I used the 5 weeks in hospital where I couldn't smoke to kick start my quit program.  It made sense and would have been silly not to have taken advantage of it. I haven't smoked since, though at times I'm so tempted to have just one puff. I'm eating better and gaining some needed weight (no coffee and a smoke for breakfast and lunch anymore).  I don't wake often at night now and I don't need to prop myself as high with pillows.

When I came out of the hospital I was still in pretty poor condition and am gradually building up my exercise.  I still don't do stairs or hills well, but will keep working on them.  I'm not wheezy most of the time though.  

I've done a lot of reading on this forum (incredible information and advice). Got a long way to go, 40 years of habit isn't easy to break, but I'm taking it one day at a time and trying not to listen to the little nitwit telling me that one smoke would be ok.

NOPE is my mantra.  It has to be. I'm only 58 and I've got a lot of living to do yet. I want to breathe. 

More Reading:  

Do I Have COPD?

Why You Don't Want Emphysema - Christine's Story

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