I Died In March 1998

by Cecil Montgomery
I am 58 years old and supposedly disabled. I spend practically all my time on the computer, working on my house, antique automobiles and yard, which is a full time job with my limitations. My wife is also retired and I have plenty of help and a great caregiver. I am living proof that this disease will almost always progress at whatever rate you want it to. I was diagnosed in 1983 and put on Theophylline at 100 mg a day. I didn't even think about it, just another pill and kept on smoking. I was in the Army at the time and getting a good exercise program so I didn't even think about it. I retired in 1985 for medical reasons but I was still going strong and ready to retire anyway, so no big deal. In 1989 I came down with a serious case of pneumonia. I was put on Albuterol and Atrovent inhalers. Still going strong but starting to slow down a little, I figured I was getting older so I still didn't get concerned and kept on smoking. I opened my own auto repair business so I could slow down a little.

In 1993 I came down with pneumonia again. This time they increased my medication and I was prescribed a nebulizer. I was starting to have quite a bit more problem breathing and had to hire an extra mechanic. I was not really concerned I figured the Doctors knew what they were doing. I just kept on smoking and went along for the ride. In 1996, I had a major bout of pneumonia and lung infection. Went into ICU for ten days and had three specialists keeping me alive. I was placed on oxygen 24/7 and prednisone 10 mg for maintenance. I closed my shop, sold out, went into depression and developed an anxiety disorder. You guessed it I was still smoking.

In March 1998 I developed respiratory failure and died! I was resuscitated and I immediately quit smoking. After about four months started getting better and started feeling the effects of quitting. I had some kind of chemical imbalance develop. The doctors couldn't find anything. I gave up and my disease took over again. I Started a complete I give up program, depending on doctors to carry the whole load and I was slowly dying. I still didn't know anything about my disease and was so depressed that I didn't care to learn. Then I found the COPD Online Support Mailing List and found out that there is life after death. I feel that I have stopped my progression and started to reverse it to an extent.

We are all going to die as that is the natural progression of things, but I believe that my experiences show that the disease progression pretty much depends on the individual. It just depends a lot on us and what we do about it. Ignorance took about ten years off my life. You need not do the same. As an update I would like to forward this addition to my story. Since this writing I have continued to work with this and several other support groups. I have received training and have been certified as a smoking cessation counselor. My lung capacity has diminished slightly in the last five years but not enough to really be significant. I formed a smoking cessation program and have had 28 members graduate as a result of the program that I started 2 years ago. I have almost completely remodeled my antique house and have restored and sold two antique automobiles. This illness is exactly what you make of it just as life is. We get back what we put in.

Cecil Montgomery
December 2003

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