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Readers Respond: What is the Most Frightening Aspect of COPD?

Responses: 185


Updated May 01, 2014

I Worry Most About the Future

I was diagnosed with mild COPD last year based on complete lung function tests. I also have emphysema changes showing on my chest CT. I do not have breathlessness and can pretty much do what I have always done but what about the future? I know it's a progrssive disease but how fast will it progrsss. My grandmother died of it and my aunt has it also. Well, I quit smoking and will hope for the best. Good luck to all of you out there!
—Guest Jim

Scary Moments.

I have suffered from COPD for a few years now and of course it gets worse as time passes. I'm 73 now, and I ran a few pubs before retiring which were always filled with tobacco smoke, hence my disease. I try to lead a normal life, but I tend to over-do things resulting in gasping for breathe and an indescribable feeling of panic, fear and near passing out. I can't bear anybody near me or speaking to me when it happens, I know what to expect when it starts but it still scares the hell out of me every time! A nurse once told me not to panic, but that's like telling someone not to sneeze! But I don't let it stop me from doing things I've always done, I just do them slower and take more breaks. I'm not scared of dying and I'm always planning ahead and I think that helps. Try to keep occupied and don't think about dying, it happens to everyone eventually!
—Guest John Darling

Scared for My Dear Friend

I have a very dear friend who as just been told he has COPD. It hurts to see him struggle to breath sometimes and I am so scared for him. He tries to cope and make light of things but I know he struggles with the situation and the uncertainty of when the next bad turn is coming. I only wish it wasn't such an unpredictable illness. I can only be there for support and will be although seeing him struggle for breath makes me scared as i feel so useless.
—Guest Lyn 65

Unable to Get Enough Air

The thing I'm most afraid of is the suffocating. I've had that sensation a few times and it's so frightening. I'm 62 and my mother died of emphasema at 63. I've done everything I can to not be her. Unfortunately, crummy lungs, smoking and breathing toxins have left me very limited.
—Guest Sally

Not to Be Able to Breathe

I gave up smoking 4 packs of cigarettes on May 5 1976 and never had much problem with breathing; that is until I moved to Yuma Arizona. In Yuma, the farmers use Pesticide Trails to cover their vast tracts of agricultural land. This pesticide flows downward and everyone breathes it in causing all kinds of lung problems to occur even among those that have never smoked. I moved out of Yuma and went to Cornville Arizona where there is little agriculture. My COPD immediately got a million times better. My advice to all is to move out of agricultural lands, and the big cities where pollution is greatest. It is safer to be a homeless bum living on the streets of Cornville and be alive, than to live in a fancy house struggling for your last breath. By the way, housing here is so inexpensive, that we have no one living on the streets.
—Guest Cody F


I have had copd for at least 16 years, have only had a few very frightening attacks, I try to walk 1-2 miles daily weather permitting, do use my inhailer and meds when I need them, get tired easy, sweat just walking, try to exercise often, am 71 and do feel the ape sitting on my chest daily, I try to keep moving, focus on breathing, try exhailing deeply by blowing up balloons, funny, used balloons to stop smoking, kept 1 cig. could have it after I blew up enough balloons to get same effect, it worked, stress sets me off and depression my Dr. put me on cymbalta, no more panic attacks, they were horrid, they also help with bone pain from osteoporosis, only 1 broken rib this year. focus on your breathing. It does help. Do yoga and walk. Dance like no one is watching and you won't even notice if you should die. Laugh out loud, talk loud, use what you have left and use it all up...avoid stress and forget the housework, who cares anyway. Get a pet, something to love, it will love you back.
—Guest patricia Kirchen

Living with COPD

I've suffered with COPD for 3 years. I was diagnosed as extreme COPD and only have 10% of lung functionality left. My breathing is so bad, that I have to keep my oxygen on even when I shower; my apartment does not have a tub. My doctor sent my medical records to a known lung transplant hospital here to see if I can be accepted for a transplant. Has anyone out there have or know of anybody who did have one and how it turned out. Thanks so much.
—Guest Diane S

Doctors and Over-Medication

I was told that I had COPD in 2000 and was on Albuterol, In 2001 I went on Medicare and my PCP increased my Medicine from just albuterol to Advair, Spriva, Albuterol,and Duoneb. Around 3 years later I was steady going down hill and lost the sight in my right eye due to A-fib. I was sent to a heart specialist and went through every test and was put on Coumadin. I asked for a pulmonary doctor and when I went to him my breathing was terrible. After the normal breathing test the doctor said I was so over medicated that its was a wonder I was still alive. So, he reduced my medicine to Advair, Spriva and Albuterol as a rescue inhaler. The next day I was so much better my breathing had improved. The doctor retired so I went to a new pulmonary doctor and he wanted to put me on Advair, Spriva, Albuterol and Duoneb which I refused. I moved and at my new locating I found a new pulmonary doctor and when she saw me she wanted to put me on the same medicine as the other doctor which I told her I was on Advair and Abuterol.

Can't Do Things I Used to Do

I'm a hard worker and have COPD now. It's hard as I can't do the things I used to do and i never smoked. I'm 52.
—Guest wayne osburn

Terrifying When I Can't Breathe

I am 55 yrs old, just recently diagnosed w/ moderate COPD, despite never having been a smoker. I watched my grandfather die, using a nebulizer, though he was a heavy smoker. I found it so depressing the first time I used the nebulizer, it brought those memories back! My father, also a smoker, now 81 yrs old, has COPD. Why me? A health-food fanatic, all-natural kind of gal, who 1 yr ago was going to the gym 4-6 days a week, & now, I feel like an 80 yr old woman, like a semi-invalid. It's discouraging & downright terrifying when I can't breathe. I want my mojo back! I keep thinking that this feels like a bad dream, & wanting to wake up from it, but the reality, like a nightmare just goes on. In the meantime, I do everything I can to keep my head above water. I keep my faith in God & His promises for a "hope & a future". I'm hoping to live long enough to write the book I've started, called, "Living on Purpose." I now seek healing.
—Guest annie

Fear That I Actually Have COPD

I fell about 3 months ago and broke 3 ribs and fractured my spine. Thought my problem with breathing was caused by this and so did my pulmonary doctor, initially. But I am on oxygen and a rescue inhaler since my condition has gotten worse. Having a CT scan tomorrow, plus a chest x-ray and breathing tests. I smoked for over 40 years so fear I actually have COPD. No energy and pain from the healing ribs. Heard a doctor tell someone it didn't matter how long ago you stopped smoking, it was "the initial insult to the lung." I am a 72 year old widow and live alone. It is getting more difficult to clean my house and do simple yard work (which I used to love). I will pray for each of you and only ask that you remember me in your prayers. God bless.
—Guest Jean

Having No Inhaler

When suddenly I have no breath left and I don't have my inhaler. I have no health insurance and 1 inhaler left that I ordered from Canada.
—Guest Goofy

Afraid to Suffer

My dad just passed away on 12/14/2012. It was extremely difficult. COPD is very complicated and everyone's body is different (my dad would say). In the end, the doctors missed that he had pneumonia until the last day. He was sedated and put on a ventilator. I know how scared he was. He always said he wasn't afraid to die but rather afraid to suffer. I miss him deeply. If there is anything I can say to parents on here who feel like they are burdening their children by depending on them (my dad felt this way too). I wish my dad would have depended on me more, he was never a burden, I cherished every second I had with him. I think parents must think us kids are telling them what they want to hear when we say we don't mind helping. Please don't isolate yourself the way my dad wanted to. I wish I could have helped him more and I would have done it for the rest of my life. He is the reason I am on this planet. If you know your days are numbered, tell them or write them a letter!

Watching Grandpa Slowly Slipping Away

I'm 22 years old and no I don't have COPD. My grandpa is 74 years old and is suffering from COPD. It hit him out of no where and I've slowly watched him go down hill. For the past 3 years he has gotten worse and worse. He's on 24\7 oxygen and if he's off he instantly stops breathing he can't really do anything at all. He doesn't ever leave and sometimes he cannot talk. He's been to the hospital 30+ times in the last 8 months from anxiety and fear of a heart attack. He finally made a living will because the doctors said he isn't too far off. He is not to be brought back.. If he dies... He dies.. With no effort to be saved.. It's sad and scary to watch him go down hill.. My g pa is a fighter tho.. A 2 time cancer survivor.. I hope I get another year with him... Ill pray for you all... I hope the best... Enjoy life, stay strong -eric
—Guest EricSTL

Watching My Husband Panic

My husband has COPD. He is 47. It breaks my heart to watch him panic and fight for air. God bless you all.
—Guest raine

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