Patient Perspective: Changing My Lifestyle Improved my COPD and Saved My Life


About eight years ago I hit the figurative brick wall medically.  I was diagnosed with emphysema, thanks to having smoked two packs of cigarettes a day since I was in college.  I needed supplemental oxygen, a nebulizer which I used twice daily, as well as a CPAP machine as I had developed sleep apnea.  In addition, I began to retain fluid, known as ascites.  My weight ballooned to 214 pounds.  I had some choices to make.  I could have gone into denial and done nothing in which case I would be a memory today.  Or, I could choose to make changes, drastic changes to my lifestyle.

It wasn’t easy, but I chose drastic changes.  I enrolled in a cardiopulmonary rehab program at my hospital.  I also quit smoking and cut alcohol out of my life.  That was six years ago.  I bought a treadmill and began walking at home.  My weight dropped to 175 pounds and I stalled there.

Friends told me that I should look at joining a health club. I started slow, working with a personal trainer three times a week.  Then I took ten training sessions moving on to free weights.  At the end of a year with a good program I was on my own.

I have been a health club member for a little over three years now.  I no longer need supplemental oxygen or a nebulizer.  I lost 25 pounds and no longer have sleep apnea.  I use an inhaler once a day.  I walk an average of 9-10 miles a day.

I work out a minimum of 5 days a week going to six.  Mondays and Thursdays are chest and back.  Tuesdays and Fridays are arms and abs.  Wednesday is legs and shoulders.  Saturdays are a mixture of full body exercises.  I usually spend between 2-3 hours a day working out (and socializing).

There is a tip I will share.  I wear a Fitbit and track what I eat using the program.  If you measure it, you can improve it.   I also use a protein supplement after I work out.  There isn’t a silver bullet for success.  It’s a mindset and personal commitment to improve.

– Patrick S., Elgin, IL

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