Susie Rosso Wolf, 56, believes both attitude and peace of mind are key to living with COPD.
I try not to let the disease control meits difficult because I have a lot of bad daysbut I confront the illness head-on, and keep going, Wolf says.
She truly follows her own advice. In June of last year, Wolfalong with the help of her husband Kurt and her doctor, Pamela Hiebert, MDdecided to take control of her life and battle back against obesity and the challenges it created.
I was extremely depressed. When youre living with COPD and you have obesity-related issues, its very lonely. I went into the pulmonary clinic and right away I was profiled as being morbidly obese, which I believe causes the doctors to under or mis-diagnose COPD, she says. I was told [four years ago], I cant do anything for you until you lose weight, and was never invited for a follow-up appointment.
After discussing a plan with Dr. Hiebert and her husband, Wolf began a walking program and riding her stationary bike 20 miles a night. She also created her own nutritional program, completely eliminating processed foods.
Its been an amazing journey and Ive had supportive people by my side 100 percent, she says.
Since June 2011, Wolf has lost an astounding 173.5 pounds.
My doctor is amazed at my progress. Last month, I saw my pulmonologist for the first time since October, and she gave me a new Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). My results were so amazing, that my oxygen saturation levels are now normal at rest and in room air. Ive gone from severe, Stage-4 COPD to mild/moderate COPD.
Growing up in a household of smokers, Wolf started smoking in her early 20s.
Not only was I raised in an atmosphere completely filled with smoke, when I was 22 I started smoking because of a stressful situation in my life. Once I started smoking, I added onto the already existing problem, Wolf says.
In addition to smoking, she was also a bartender for 18 years, which put her in an environment that was filled with smoke all of the time. Her husband is also a smoker.
In 2001, Wolf had a cancerous gallbladder removed. After living through that, she decided she needed to do something about her smoking.
In Christmas 2002, I had very serious double pneumonia. I was very ill, and told my husband I am never going to smoke again. I quit that morning at 3AM and never had another cigarette, she says. Wolf has had four smoking/obesityrelated cancers that she has survived.
She says her life is hard with COPD, but she does her best to make the most of it. Every day, in every way, I do everything I can to fight this disease.
Wolf strongly believes that obesity and COPD is an issue that needs more attention.
The general public isnt aware of how important it is to understand COPD and how it relates to obesity. Its a very serious issue. My health was at great risk when I was overweight. Ive experienced so much darkness regarding this issue that led me to very complicated tendencies, she says. Not only was I profiled by the physicians as a fat woman, but I think I was also misdiagnosed because of being profiled in that way. They missed the fact that I have acute anemiaand blood disorders o?en cause breathlessness, she says. Now Im going through painful testing for a blood disorder that should have been looked at four years ago, and this is just one example of issues that were overlooked in my case.
The doctors need to see the patient as a whole, medical person with a multitude of issues and break some ground with them, Wolf says. People need to be their own advocate and stand up and say, Im worth something.
It is Wolf s deepest desire to spread awareness about the deadly effects that obesity has on the COPD patient.
The human will is a powerful thing; we all can stand up and make the right changes to greatly improve the COPD symptoms. I want other morbidly obese patients to know that they are not alone.