COPD: “Both athletic and a non-smoker, I was still diagnosed with COPD...”
Published 16 Mar 2022 • By Candice Salomé
16eve16, a member of Carenity France, has stage 3 COPD. A lifelong sports enthusiast and a non-smoker, she sought help after trouble climbing stairs and carrying heavy loads. When was diagnosed, it felt like her life had crumbled, but she was able to find the strength to bounce back quickly and adapt her life to her new abilities.
Discover her story below!
Hello 16eve16, thank you for agreeing to share your story with us on Carenity.
First of all, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am an energetic 70-year-old woman trying to stay that way as much as possible. I am divorced from a first marriage, have a son and 2 grandchildren. I married a second time and am now retired.
My passions are cats, dancing, theatre, genealogy, travelling...
How long have you had COPD? What symptoms prompted you to seek help?
I don't remember the exact onset of the disease, but the diagnosis was made at the end of 2018. Being athletic since I was young, I was surprised to find that I was having a harder time climbing stairs, walking in the mountains, even tying my shoes... Well, many small daily tasks, really. So, I consulted a pulmonologist.
Was the diagnosis difficult to make?
They were able to diagnose me right after the first exams (a CT scan and spirometry). But no one, neither my GP nor the pulmonologist, told me the name "COPD"... In May 2019, I had to stay at a breathing clinic for the pulmonologist to finally give me some explanations. Now, I am also followed by a doctor at the hospital in Toulouse because my case is a bit different, as my COPD has no particular causes or triggers.
How did you feel when you received the diagnosis? Was it difficult to accept?
It's needless to say, but when you are told that you have stage 3 COPD and that it is an irreversible disease, of course I was devastated!
What do you think may have caused your COPD?
I have no apparent cause, as I don't and have never smoked, I never have bronchitis, no asthma, no allergies...
What are your symptoms in the day-to-day?
I don't always breathe easily. Bending down, carrying heavy things... all that is complicated. And I'm tired more often.
What stage of COPD are you at today? What impact has it had on your professional and private life?
My COPD is at stage 3 with a FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) at 40%. I am retired, so it hasn't affected my working life. As for my private life, everything has been disrupted because I can't do anything normally.
Have you had to adapt your lifestyle in any way to your COPD?
I think I already had a good lifestyle, so I didn't have to make any particular changes.
Are you taking any medications for your COPD? Have you had any side effects?
I'm on the Fostair NEXThaler with 2 puffs in the morning and evening. I haven't had any particular side effects.
What do you think of the medical and/or psychological support you received?
I think this is a very sensitive point because I have absolutely no psychological support, and I think that we should have a few sessions of this kind of support from time to time. Even if you have a strong will, sometimes you feel like giving up, because you're only human.
Also, a lot of times the people in your life don't see you as someone who's sick, because it's an invisible illness as long as you don't wear your oxygen tank!
What are your plans for the future?
Any plans? The things I would have liked to take on I won't be able to do anymore... So, I'm taking charge of my life in a different way, but as intensively as possible. I am keeping up some of my activities to keep myself in the best shape as possible as long as I can (walking, aquacycling, country dancing, theatre...).
What advice would you give to other Carenity members living with COPD?
Don't give up, keep on moving, because when you understand that the oxygen is in your muscles, you can't stay inert, you have to keep on stimulating your muscles as much as possible. You have to go to rehabilitation centres, do respiratory physiotherapy...
You just have to keep on living...
Any final thoughts?
Fight on, even if it's not always easy, but I think overall it's worth it!
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