COPD DEATH – Looking Death in the Eye and Still Breathing…

First off – don’t let the title scare you – it’s meant to catch your attention. I am fine. I’ve tried to write this post for weeks now. It is important that it be written and read by someone who may need just this at just this time or whenever they happen upon it.

Just Breathe from Queen Latifah – Photo courtesy of Queen Latifa

My friend, Bill Hamilton of Dealing with COPD, posted a link to a film on his website about what it is like in the last days of COPD. I could not watch it until today. Not because I was busy, but because I didn’t have the guts and the courage and the strength to watch what my death will be like if I don’t die in a car crash or get hit by a bus. I have been diagnosed with COPD and am rated Severe, which is considered the third of four stages of COPD.

Below is the film, “A Good Death.” It is 30 minutes long. We, as a society, are not trained to look death in the eye and, when it is inevitable, to come to terms with it, to decide how we will meet it and on what terms we will meet Death. I initial cap, Death, deliberately. Based on our mythology, whether it be the guy in a cowl and robe with a scythe in his hand, beckoning you to come with him or, you see it as God’s Angels coming to take you to Him, or the fear you will die alone in your bed, at the hospital, at home or at hospice, we all have some idea of it, even if we don’t want to look our own death in the eye.

Sometimes, of even greater importance, our family and friends do not want to acknowledge it, not realizing how much harder that makes it on the person who is dying. That the little strength the person has left must go towards comforting others rather than drawing comfort from those around them.

From Bill’s site, commenting on his 3/2 “End of Reitrement” post – Dear Bill, bless you for your humor, your pugnacity and your “I told you so.” x 12 or what have you. Benze mentions the film, “A Good Death,” you posted a while back. I finally girded my loins to the sticking point and watched it – alone (not recommended for COPD’ers, but there I was.)

I instantly started a post to spread the word and then saved the draft. I don’t know if it is because I was told back in 2010 and worked my way through that diagnosis – “this is what you will die of” if I don’t get hit by a bus or whatever – I think I’ve accepted it and just keep on moving forward, knowing if a bad cold comes along, I could be hospitalized or poof, be gone. It’s a bit like a California earthquake – there is no warning, it just comes – yes, we can prepare, but then you get on with living as best you can.

I salute you and your getting on with living, Bill!

Bill’s post re Support – 3/8/2014 – my commentary – Dear Bill, what a timely post – not just for those who need support, but for those who give it. Most of us fall somewhere between the two, depending on the day. I remember reading or hearing that when you give something, whatever it might be, the payback will come, BUT, it may not come from the one to whom you gave it. It can be passed forward or backward, but it does come. What a miracle that is. LOL, hey, maybe I’ll do a post on this. Grin. As always, Bill, you leave one comforted and strengthened by your words. Best ~ HuntMode

Bill’s post re documentation of 3/15/14 – my commentary – Dear Bill, THANK YOU for this! I’ve been the one coming up from behind and even so, I’ve been slack on my own stuff – shame on me!

While you mention the Other, with a capital O indicating significant or wife or husband, it is even more important when you are single and a friend or relative has to come in and make heads or tails out of it. And, for crazier-making style, some of us are security conscious and don’t want to leave passwords out and about… Helen, above, described it perfectly…. gives me goosebumps. In my case, I’ve a dog and a cat – if it’s just a short stint, I’d want my pet sitters to come in as they already have a key, they know the “kids,” their feeding schedule, etc. – my friend who is my attorney in fact lives an hour away. I would not ask nor expect her to try to take care of the kids as well as everything else that would hit her shoulders. I have an agreement with my pet sitters, even though I’ve been unemployed and not having to use them for quite a while, that if they get a call, they’ll be there for my kids.

God bless you for this, Bill.

Best ~ HuntMode

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16 thoughts on “COPD DEATH – Looking Death in the Eye and Still Breathing…

    • Ah, Professora, I’m a chicken as much as the other guy. There’s just some things I’ve become pretty good at – I think M.R. below put it well: it’s the sorrow we have so much trouble with and, of course, not knowing – which is a blessing, as a general rule. You can ignore it when you don’t know. There are people who face death head on and then get a second chance – imagine what a shake down they go through. I thank you so much for being the first to comment – I wasn’t sure what people would make of this post. And, for such loving words to me. Best ~ HuntMode

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  1. It isn’t actually necessary for me to say that I am so far from liking this post as to be unable to throw a basketball at it with any likelihood of making contact, Huntie … But it is so full of courage that I cannot just walk away from it and turn my head away.
    I cannot watch the video, not possibly. 8 years ago I lost my beloved husband to lung cancer; 3½ year after that I lost my beloved second-eldest sister to motor neurone disease. Both involved, in different degrees, loss of ability to breathe properly. All my life, since age 6, I have had an almost indescribable fear of not being able to breathe – due simply to having had whooping cough at that age.
    So I don’t have your courage; and how you managed to look at it is almost beyond me.
    It would be indeed marvellous if in some way we could be taught to handle Death in advance … that is, all the way through our thinking lives. I can’t see how it would be possible. To read a post such as this one makes one weep for the potential loss at any time of a truly kind and worthwhile person, who gives every sign of having spent her life helping others; so it’s sorrow that affects us, and we’re not good at sorrow. And in regard to our own Death – even though I should like very much to think that I will be going to wherever it is (nowhere) that Chic went back in the beginning of 2006, I still fear it. If I could KNOW that it will take me in a second or two, I wouldn’t. I think most of us – meaning at this time of our lives – feel the same.
    But still, Huntie … this is terrible news for us. I should like to be able to hug your thin little body and tell you what a super person you are. I should like that very much.

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    • Well, Margaret Rose, you have totally unmanned me….Every single word you said is so true and immediate from trying to grapple with the news of a loved one being ill, to leaving us and having to move forward without them – ah, you nailed it. I went through that with my Mom and my husband – I could not believe she would not meet my children (she would still be waiting on that unless you count the “kids.”) Flash of a smile.

      If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t watch that film either, especially if I had had whooping cough – six years old or 70. Not a chance. I will say this – it is an EXCELLENT film – well done – not out to rip your guts out or even to scare you – simply facts and choices – choices, mind you, of how to deal or what you want. Interesting and comforting in its way – as well as the nugget that most go in a coma and are not aware they’ve stopped breathing. That is indeed the scary part – that you would be awake and aware…

      Please know, basketball or not, you have given me great comfort with your comment and sooner or later, I’ll take that hug. xxoo Huntie

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  2. Hunt, thank you for all of the kind things you said about me, and about the stories I have posted. I appreciate those words to no end. I appreciate you sharing the words and taking up the banner to continue to inform, advise, and educate folks about this nasty disease. I appreciate the effectiveness of your words, and the passion you share with me in making the transition to end of retirement as easy as possible for both the sufferer of the disease and those that love them. You are doing your part helping others create a graceful life with COPD, with a dignified death. But just as important to the work you’re doing spreading the word regarding COPD, I appreciate the friendship we have developed. You my friend are a very very special woman. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Take care, Bill

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    • Hello Bill, nice to see you, my friend. I feel more like your wingman, rather than someone taking up the banner. Soft smile. I, too, am glad for our friendship. 🙂 Best ~ Hunt

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    • It is a weird one for sure, Tess. I can sit at my desk and work without feeling much exertion, but the other day, I ended up at some super mall, looking for a particular store. While I had entered the right building, the store was at the end of this long wing. It felt like forever to walk it… and then walk back. ‘Course, that covered my exercise for the day, so we got that going for us! 🙂

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  3. I actually found a bit of comfort in the film “A Good Death” because I was so scared of dying while gasping & fighting for breath. The film reassured me I would probably be less conscious when it’s my time to go. But it also made me think about the things I need to get done before I get to that point & made me talk to my hubby more about what I wished for in the end. It took me a few days to work up the courage too, but I’m glad I watched it.

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    • Yes, Benze, me, too. The visual of the man of the film just made me quake and my knees knock. I wrote something similar to what you’ve said in my comment to M.R.’s grace-filled comment. We’re in this rockabye boat together, kiddo. Best ~ Hunt

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  4. Death. Dying. Not something i dwell on. But something that is as far away only as the blink of an eye. The film, I did not watch it. Don’t think i’m emotionally strong enough for that just yet.
    I don’t suffer from anything specific just yet, but that may change as time goes by – when i get to that bridge, i’ll cross it.
    The fact that you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness is beyond my words. platitudes are all I can come up with, and the biggest one of them all, but also the one that holds the most truth – I can’t come and look after the kids for you P, but i can read and be your friend as long as you let me…

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    • Blessings upon you, J – you are always welcome and I hope you and Mr. C will stop for a visit if and when you come to the States. That film is actually so well done – it’s the grim visage of the gentleman that stopped me in my tracks. I’ve been doing some thinking on this – in many ways, I am so fortunate to have years vs. a six month diagnosis. I’ll be posting on these ruminations in a bit. Love you, Hunt

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