| Like most smokers I thought I could quit any time I wanted to. In fact I had quit twice. Once for about 7 months and another time for 18 months. When I started back up after the second time though I found it almost impossible to quit. A high school classmate of mine who is a registered nurse had told me that if I quit for 18 months the lungs returned to their original condition. I shouldn't have beleived it but it gave me an excuse not to quit as I "knew" my lungs weren't all that bad since I had quit for 18 months. That was in 1990. By 1997 I was having severe problems breathing. I came awake suddenly one night with the feeling that someone had pulled a blanket down over my head and was suffocating me. I called 911 and went to the emergency room. I was diagnosed with copd and the doctor told me I needed to quit smoking or else one day they would bring me back to the hospital and I would never go home again. He got me up walking around the hospital and it was amazing how fast I improved so he released me. When I went home I gave away several packs of cigarettes I had but a couple of days later I bummed one from a neighbor. After asking for another he bought me a pack and that quick I was hooked again.|
By 2000 I was really starting to have serious problems with shortness of breath in all of my normal activities but I was in that proverbial state of denial big time. I kept right on smoking until 2003. I was baby sitting for some of my grandchildren whose mother is an emergency room registered nurse. I developed internal bleeding so my daughter took me to her emergency room. While I was in the hospital I fell in the bathroom and broke two ribs. While I don't suggest a breaking a rib as a way stopping smoking let me tell you from first hand experience that coughing and broken ribs DO NOT mix! Of course we all know what long time smokers do and that is cough. It took 4 or 5 weeks before the pain went away and by then I had made up my mind that I WOULD NOT go back to smoking.
I had never had a regular doctor much less a pulmonary doctor but now it was time to get one. After doing all the test including finding out I only had 18% lung capacity the lung doctor put me on oxygen along with puffers and nebulizers etc. and sent me to a pulmonary rehab program. I also looked into lung transplant which I opted not to have done because of the loss of the immune system and lung volume reduction surgery which I wasn't qualified for due to the poor condition of my lungs. The doctor did tell me that a person with my lung capacity had on average 18 months to live. I was determined to prove him wrong in my case.
When I started the rehab program I had to have the someone take me in a wheelchair back to the cardio-pulmonary rehab area. Before I was done with the six month program I was able to walk back there on my own. The following year I felt I was going down hill so I asked to be put in a rehab program again. This one was much shorter and not near as good but it got me thinking about ongoing excercise. I got a treadmill and an excercise bike and began my own exercise program at home. I also started walking up and down the block some several times a day. Now almost 3 years later I am walking a half a mile a day at least. Some days I can walk a mile but I haven't gotten to the point where I can do that every day. My goal is to be able to walk a mile outside (which is harder than on the treadmill especially here where I live due to the road not being level.) I can do so many things now easily that just a couple of years ago were a real hassle like taking a shower or taking the garbage out. In fact when I went to the hospital in 2003 I hated to even leave the house and go any where! Now I can even mow and rake my yard. I have to take it real slow but it is something that a few years ago I would not have considered trying to do.
My whole purpose in writing this is to encourage others to get into a rehab program and then continue to exercise consistently and build yourself up. I feel so much better these days and I hope you will too!
Copyright 2003. Site Designed by Cyberage Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.