Tag Archives: COPD


Annie on my chair

Annie and Bootsie on my chair

Home. What we all long for. What some of us have. What some of us don’t have.

Home — what does it mean? Does it mean having a house, an apartment a condo? Does it mean having a large cardboard box for the homeless? Yes.

Or does it mean where we grew up, the house at the end (or the beginning) of the street. The house where we lived and laughed, cooked and cleaned, played Parcheesi, slept and sat at the dinner table…does this represent home to you?

For me, it did…for a long time. Now that house is sold, my parents are no longer living, and the four remaining children are all grown up with homes of their own. Very different homes. But homes they are, not just houses.

And what about the folks who have only a tent or huge appliance box as shelter? Do we ever think about them, want to help them? Or do we just walk by them when we see them holding out their hands.

Most of us have never seen these people’s living (if you can call it that) arrangements. No, those places are in a part of town (or under the bridge) that we don’t frequent.

I’ve seen these forlorn places. I’ve talked to the people who live there when I was getting information about the homeless situation in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the article was never published, as the small magazine it was to appear in went out of business.

I love my home today, and it has provided me with a very comfortable place to live and to heal — from my COPD, from lost loves and from the move of my beloved grandson to another city far away.  And though I never lived on the street, I almost did — several times. How sad I was then. And how blessed I am today.

I believe in counting my blessings each and every single day of my life. I don’t think about what I don’t have anymore. I only thank God for what I do have. That works for me. Do you do that, too?

Lots of people have a home, but they want a bigger one, a newer one, one with more land or one with less land. People grumble about mowing the lawn, repairing the roof, and washing the dishes or doing the laundry. People complain about a lot of things, but I think the world would be a much better and happier place if people sought ways to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, spent less money on stuff and took some time off each week instead of working so many hours that they die of heart attacks at a fairly young age.

That’s it for me tonight. How about you? I would really love to hear your comments and thoughts on these things. I hope you’ll click the comment box. Have a blessed day.



Filed under Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

It Comes Around – A Love Letter

Two reasons to live: My daughter Molly and my grandson Hammie

We laugh or get deadly serious about the saying, “What goes around, comes around.” People use it to describe their financial, romantic and familial relationships and situations. Folks who are REALLY into it say that everything we do has a consequence on some level and that we need to watch what we do and say in order to avoid the bad karma that comes with not taking care of ourselves, our belongings and other people.

You may wonder what all this has to do with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. In a word – everything.

For years, I smoked with abandon. When I started at the age of 17, I thought it was the cool thing to do. I remember sneaking outside to have a cigarette and my mom coming out the side screen door. “So, you’re smoking,” she said, “I wish you wouldn’t, but if you’re going to smoke, you may as well smoke a good brand of cigarettes.” I needed her stamp of approval, and the next brand of smokes I bought was Parliament. I think they cost around $.40.

Now it is 45 years later, and I just got out of the hospital after staying there for one week. The reason? COPD as a result of my smoking thousands of cigarettes day after day, week after week and year after year. Never mind the financial cost. I’m writing this as a love letter to my friends who smoke, teens I don’t know who smoke, and people I’ll never meet who smoke.

I’ve been sick for months. Everyone I’d meet noticed my horrible cough. Strangers asked me if I was all right. “Yes, I’m fine,” I glibly replied. “It’s just a smoker’s cough, so I’m not contagious.” I’d lie down at night, only to cough so hard I had to get up and throw up sometimes. When I went to the movies, people turned around and looked at me as if I was certifiably crazy for coming to a public place and disturbing the story line with my cough. Gradually, my sinuses filled up.

I tried everything to get the mucous out of my sinuses…steam, Vick’s, saline solution, decongestants, everything. I even tried those little strips you put on your nose. Sure, they worked fine, until they fell off in the middle of the long and lonely night.  My doctor prescribed drug after drug and told me mine was the worst case she’d ever seen.

Now I’ve been out of the hospital for five days. The cure is almost as bad as the disease. I’m on massive doses of prednisone, a steroid drug that opens my bronchial tubes so I can breathe. However, the side effects are more than difficult to bear. I can’t sleep, I’m so jittery I could dance all night, my head aches constantly, the acid in my throat would fill a car battery, and worst of all, I look like the Pillsbury doughgirl.

You may be wondering why I call this a love letter? The reason is simple. Sure, I’d read about COPD, lung cancer, emphysema and all the rest of the complications from smoking for years. I saw pictures of brown lungs compared to pink ones, watched people in wheelchairs holding onto their portable oxygen tanks, and been told of friends family members who died of smoking related causes.

One of my dearest friends quit smoking 10 years ago and now has lung cancer that spread to her heart, her bones and her liver. After two years of invasive and painful treatment, she has decided to take no more treatments. I asked her if it was worth it, and she said she really didn’t know. Throughout the whole time, she remained as cheerful as anyone could, as inspirational as a wise mentor, and as hopeful as a young and naïve child.

You may think you can’t quit. You may have tried everything as I did for years. The patch. The gum. The prescription medicines Wellbutrin or Chantix. Cold turkey. The new electronic cigarette. Herbal cigarettes. You may worry about gaining weight, wearing all your feelings on your sleeve and verbally jumping on anyone who happens to cross your path.

Hear my words.  It’s worth it to quit – NOW.  You do NOT want to go through what I’ve been going through.  It’s not fun, it’s not pleasant, and it’s no way to live. There WILL be consequences to your habit of puffing on little white paper-wrapped tobacco sticks.

You may be one of the lucky ones. Just a bad cough for the rest of your life. On the other hand, you may wind up like my friend. Or me. In some cases, I think a diagnosis of cancer is better than one of COPD. Why?

Because at least with cancer you know what you have. You have treatment options or you can opt out of treatment and start your bucket list.

But with COPD, if you want to live anywhere near a comfortable life, the options are not anything but inconvenient, uncomfortable and make you into a basket case – literally.

You’ve seen those people with their oxygen tanks. Imagine having to spend the rest of your life carrying one of those around everywhere you go. Get on a plane for a trip to visit the kids or see your granddaughter graduate? Yep, just take along your tank. Plan a trip to the Mexican Riviera for some sun and fun? Sure, just don’t count on snorkeling or scuba diving to see the wonderfully diverse sea life. You can’t. You’re on oxygen.

Am I getting the point across? So far, I haven’t been put on oxygen. I can’t imagine living that way. To me, it offers no quality of life. It’s simply a way of existing. And who wants to only exist?

So this is my love letter to you. If you know me personally, you know I love life, humor and exploring the world. If you don’t know me on a personal level, understand that there is nothing in the world that I’d rather be doing right now than walking in the footsteps of Christ in the Holy Land, climbing up the hill to see the Parthenon, or braving the late spring cold to visit World War II sites in Poland and other countries.

But I am stuck here. I can’t go any of those places until my COPD is “stabilized.” And what if we can’t get it stabilized? Am I doomed to staying within the confines of the United States and never fulfilling my lifelong dreams of traveling to parts unknown?

Hindsight is 20/20. If I knew I’d be going through what I’m going through now, I would have gritted my teeth, rubbed my fingers until they were raw and screamed in anger at every person who looked at me the wrong way. It would have been worth it. This is NOT worth it.

Take charge of your life and health. Quit now. I will support you. I will stand by you. I will pray for you. And I know that if I can finally quit, you can too. And I know that if I can save just one person from having to experience the horrible consequences of lifelong smoking, I’ll feel I have done my job for the day.

God bless you and good luck.


Filed under Uncategorized