'Watching my grandson's concert, I wondered if I'd make it to more'

"I sat there and realised there was so many concerts to look forward to, but would I make it?"

Last night I went to a primary school concert. Haven’t been to one in a very long time so was excited. It was also my step grandson’s first concert so it was hard to choose which of us was looking forward to it the most. We headed to Maccas first which was excitement in itself. Takeaway is not something I do and for my son and his family it is only a Friday event. Thursday was unheard of. It was little Cooper’s ninth birthday celebration with me so it was double excitement.

After dinner, we headed off to the school and so did nearly everyone in Kingston where I live, it seemed. Parking was a hassle but finally we found a park which was not too far from the school gates, but for someone like me it could have been ten kilometres. As I started to walk the short distance in the almost gale force winds of Tasmania, I started to struggle. I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in its moderate form and the wind, along with the sloping path made things very difficult, almost impossible for me. Now, for those of you who don’t know, COPD causes problems breathing among other symptoms. Here I was, so excited but silently wishing it was over.  

My son was walking beside me and he looked concerned. I don’t think until that moment he realised what this disease does. I assured him I was fine and struggled up the stairs. Of course when you can’t get air into your lungs it is a problem, but with COPD it’s a case of the air in your lungs not circulating properly and being able to escape as it should. When you become stressed, your breathing becomes more laboured.  

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I have a relatively short recovery period so it wasn’t too long before I was seated, breathing easier and enjoying watching my grandson, who, by the way, was the best on the night. I’m sure every proud grandparent sees it that way. I sat there and realised there was so many concerts to look forward to, but would I make it?

There is no cure for COPD, but it is “manageable” they say. I do all the exercising I can which helps immensely and everything else I’m told. Last night though, I laid back thinking why there is not more awareness on this disease. It is the third biggest killer in this country and although there is some research, you never hear them saying they are looking for a cure or close to one, like they do with cancers etc. It’s classed as a social disease mainly caused by smoking so looked upon as ” your own fault”. I have had people say that to me.

There are many people worse off than me, but last night was one of those nights that depressed me. I am only 64-years-old and have so much I want to do and see. I want to be able to be there for my grandson, not only when he’s nine but when he’s 29. Last night it was a bit hard. Today I am ready to fight another day. I don’t mind dying, but not yet. I want a reasonable quality of life and a longer one. It is nobody’s fault, least of all mine that I have this but please don’t look down on me and the millions of others that live with this. Hopefully someone will come up with a way to give us a better quality and longer life expectancy. Yes I get depressed and yes I know others in this world suffer more than me, but that doesn’t mean that I and people like me don’t deserve equal attention as far as finding a cure.  

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As for me, I will probably sometimes feel sorry for myself but I won’t give up the fight. Life is worth living and I’ve got plenty of living to do yet. I have many more concerts to attend and many more family events I don’t want to miss. See you in twenty years or so.

Do you, or anyone you know, suffer from this disease?