Three years ago, one of my doctors at the Veterans Hospital in Reno, NV told me I had 2, maybe 3 years left. I am very happy to be here to show you that doctors ain’t always right.
Yes, I still do have COPD (Emphysema). Some doctors call it late stage, some end stage, others call it severe COPD. Whatever stage it is, it means that they have prescribed for me the last, best drugs and treatment to extend my life – and my breathing – as much as possible. There is no cure, only treatment.
My medications include Spiriva (Tiotropium 18MCG) once a day, Forodil Aerolizer (Formoterol Fumarate 12MCG) twice a day, Asmanex (Mometasone Furoate 220MCG) twice a day and Albuterol Sulfate via nebulizer 4 times a day, or as needed. I also have a rescue inhaler (Albuterol) for those times that my activity has given me shortness of breath. I also take a couple squirts of that before a shower, or any activity I know will cause breathing difficulty.
Oxygen therapy is another treatment I have been stuck with since my COPD diagnosis. I carry a small B (M-6) tank in a converted hydration backpack – I have an assortment of backpacks so I can coordinate with what clothing I’m wearing. When I am sitting, doing nothing, I take the tank off. But I do have to be on o2 at all other times, including when I am sleeping. At that time, I hook up to a 25′ hose connected to a noisy concentrator.
Other meds include half a cholesterol pill, a pill twice a day to manage the mucous and the occasional ibuprofen. Catching a cold, which has happened a few times in the last couple years, can be life threatening and has twice now turned into emergency room visits. I usually take a very strong antibiotic to fix the bronchial infection.
Two of those colds happened just recently – last month. I was gettin’ all cocky about surpassing the doctor’s estimate and what started as a scratchy throat ended up with me not being able to inhale or exhale. That was the scariest thing that ever happened to me and I couldn’t sleep for several days thinking I was going to die from suffocation. I got over that cold and less than a month later, caught another one.
But wait! I’m still alive and here it is past the doctor’s estimate and I am having a good day. I hope to be around a bit longer. I started a diet a few months ago and have lost over 20 pounds, I have home improvement projects I’m working on, enjoying the friendship of my neighbors’ occasional visits and staying busy managing my popular flooring site, The Floor Pro Community, and other personal websites. Although the end is inevitable and likely much sooner than I will want it to be, I am trying to make the most of my time left.
I am going to have a good 2011 and I hope you will too. One day at a time.