It Was About 10 Years Ago
The weather reminded me of the day my secret was born. It’s funny what can trigger a memory. My secret comes back to me like it was yesterday.
I had just finished work and I arranged to have my son pick my up. He met me outside of work and we chatted about our day and had a cigarette together. When I asked him where the car was he indicated it was parked around the corner….about four blocks away.
My Heart Skipped a Beat
I asked him to bring the car to me but he just laughed and started walking. He motioned to me to come with him, so I walked with him, letting him do the talking. As I walked I became shorter and shorter of breath and my gait became slower and slower. It seemed to take me forever to get there.
Rounding the corner and seeing that car was like seeing a cool lake on a hot summer day.
My subconscious told me then that I could be in trouble but I choose to keep it a secret. So, as I usually did, I got in the car, caught my breath, lit another cigarette, and tried very hard to forget about my secret.
A little while later my niece had a celebration for her 30th birthday party. A room was booked and a date was set. The entire family would be there for a Saturday night event. I got there and was pointed to a flight of stairs that kept on going up higher and higher. Once again my heart skipped a beat.
No One Knew I Had a Secret
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get up those stairs. No one else gave them a second thought, but I knew. I was still smoking at this time and feeling more symptoms. I was working very hard to hide my breathlessness, I was keeping it a secret. I convinced myself that if we didn’t talk about it, and nobody else had noticed it, then it would not be there.
This is the first time that I would attend a party and not go out for a cigarette, but I knew if I got down those stairs and had a smoke, I would never get back up. My subconscious knew this but it was my secret.
Now I Wonder
My health gradually and steadily went down hill and for the most part I truly never noticed. Then one day I woke up and realized how things had changed drastically and that my life would never be the same.
What could have or would have happened if I had reacted then, some 10 years earlier, right at the beginning, instead of letting it get gradually and progressively worse. I truly think that was the point of time that would have changed everything.
I read somewhere that you are one decision away from a different life. This was my decision time and I blew it.
If , If, If
If I had known enough and been proactive. If I had started an exercise regiment. If I had any idea the severity of the illness.
If I had known then what it was like to truly not be able to catch my breath. If I had known that it would cut my life short and force me to give up working.
If I had been as diligent in researching this illness as I was in hiding it, and if I had known how very much I would have to give up to compensate for it.
The Change I Can Make Is Education.
There is no point wondering now because the damage is done and it can’t be reversed. There is no do overs.
I was approached by Ontario Lung to run a support group and felt that the time was right and that I could have something to offer others who were suffering from the same things that I was.
I want to help educate others and bring these issues to the forefront, making sure that others know the signs and symptoms and hopefully do something about it sooner rather than later. I want to share the mistakes I made and help others to overcome them.
It is in providing a peer support group that is for those that suffer from COPD and other Lung issues who can help each other.
It is in pushing myself to help others, and to be brave enough to do it. It is reaching out to help those that are supporters and their caregivers. It is being at the forefront of support, it is gathering of those that need help.
No One Left Behind
If you need help and are local, feel free to join. If you are not local, please find a support group or email me to let me know how I can reach out to help you.