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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

In 2005 I had double pneumonia and was in the hospital for three weeks, the second in the intensive care unit. It took me months to bounce back. I quit smoking September 30, 2005, the day I went to the ER. I was afraid to be discharged, as the first thing you smell coming out of the hospital is cigarette smoke. I voiced my concerns to my hospital doctor, and he informed me that if I continued to smoke I would not live long. At that time I was 47.

When I got home I had no urge to smoke, and have not smoked since. I think I was so out of it when I was in the ICU that I must have gone through withdrawals and not realized, because I never suffered any form of that. On my return visit to my pulmonary doctor he prescribed me oxygen for sleeping.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I quit smoking. I have always had a low fat diet, because in 1995 I had very high cholesterol, so I changed my diet then and have stuck with it. But I gained 70 pounds when I quit smoking. I can't lose this weight. I pay a gym membership but can't breathe enough to go exercise; I need a swift kick in the behind.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

My husband and my kids. My middle son used to live with us and he cooked and cleaned, but he has found a really nice girl and has moved out. I miss him. My husband knows I struggle. I just got two new hearing aids that are really too loud – I never heard my wheezing before as much as I have in the past few days. Man, do I wheeze. It's embarrassing.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I'm not really proud of much – I miss lots of moments in my kids’ lives, my oldest son especially. They invite me to a lot of activities and I just don't have the get up and go. My house is a mess, it's hard to shop and it's hard to cook. However, I do take care of my mom now, who suffers from dementia. She moved in with us recently.

Don't smoke!

I am a nice person who ruined her lungs by smoking.

I am a nice person who ruined her lungs by smoking.

What's your advice to someone else living with COPD?

I really don't know, except don’t smoke! And know your limits. I'm still learning mine.

Is there anything else we should know?

I love my family, and I'm taking good care of my mom. I guess that is one accomplishment I am proud of. I have a new grandbaby on the way – I hope I'm having a good day when we get the call. I am a nice person who ruined her lungs by smoking – I don't want pity or sympathy. I've done this to myself.

Know your limits. I'm still learning mine.

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