We are extremely excited to bring you another installment of our Share Your Story segment! Today we hear the personal COPD story of Rose M. Davison. Rose's life isn't defined by her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but instead by her dedication to a lifetime of nursing, serving our country as apart of the armed forces, and her children. She shares how a lifetime of smoking has resulted in her diagnosis of COPD. Despite being faced with a progressive respiratory disease, Rose is just thankful that she is able to share her COPD story with others in hopes to sway them away from smoking before it's too late.
What was Life Like Leading Up to Your Diagnosis?
I am 86 years of age, not old but aging rapidly. I was always very active and healthy and rebellious. Cigarettes were introduced to me in high school and I developed a long relationship with them. I attended Nursing School while we were at war and cigarettes were given to us FREE by different companies. The daily stress in nursing duties was ample reason to embrace this new form of relaxation.
I joined the military after training and cigarettes went right along with me. Stayed with me through duty, marriage and five pregnancies. It was when the children were learning about the hazards of smoking that they tried to have me stop....to no avail. "I'll stop when the doctors do." Well they did and I didn't. When the children were of age, some of them tried the weeds but it never took. None of them smoke today. When they were grown I found time to attend college, out of town traveling back and forth 3 times weekly. It was then that I discovered "allergies". I spent several times in the ER and found that smoking was a causative factor. After many futile attempts I finally quit. That was in the eighties, but the effect was there for a lifetime.
Life went on with no real effects except for a visit or two to the ER. I really didn't have any real problems that I noticed until recently. It was gradual and insidious. Breathlessness with exercise. I blew it off. Continued to work and gradually my life became more restrictive. Believe it or not I was still working in nursing at the age of 80 but life was closing in. It was getting harder to walk any distance, climbing stairs was a no no and seasonal allergies were killers. Recently during a routine doctor's visit I was denied a procedure due to my lung condition known as COPD. This is the condition I lived with for more than 30 years without a name. I retired at 86, agreed by my colleges.
They will never know how I struggled to stay on my feet, had to sit and collect breath in order to see a patient. It was the patients who had more insight than I. I am limited to oxygen, have been for the past 3 years even though I worked. It was my big secret. My voice is permanently hoarse, my steps are limited and my life is confined to that involving sitting. One of my sons is my caregiver and its embarrassing to have a child of mine spend his life caring for me. WOULD I DO IT OVER AGAIN? Of course not....no one in their right mind would select smoking as a life choice. I was a stubborn Irishman and lived too long dragging the weight of a sickness around my life for so long. We can't ever do it over again, but we can always make the right choices the first time around. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR CHOICE.
What Friends/Family Members Provide Support? How?
My youngest son is my caregiver.
What is Your Greatest Achievement in Life that You are Most Proud Of?
That I have an opportunity to relate my story.
If You were Talking to Someone Recently Diagnosed with COPD, What's Some Advice You Would Give Them?
Advice is cheap. Let them see for themselves in my daily struggle.
What was the Hardest thing to Cope with after Your Diagnosis?
That there is no cure..... just symptomatic relief.
What Else Should We Know About You?
I have cared for persons with the same diagnosis over the years and hope for a quick demise.
We can't thank Rose enough for sharing her story with us today. Hopefully you have gained a first-hand insight into the true impacts long-term smoking has on your lungs and overall health. If you are diagnosed with COPD and are still smoking, you need to make it a priority to quit sooner rather than later. Leave a comment below with some of your helpful quit smoking tips!