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A Timeline for the Progression of my COPD….

31 Jul

Since I have started my blog many folks have asked me about the progression of my COPD, I have been asked; do you know what caused it, how long have I had COPD, when did it start or and how fast has it moved taking over my lungs.  None of those questions do I have definitive answers.  One of the easiest answers I do have is; my COPD didn’t start the day I was diagnosed. 

My COPD started a long time ago.  It may or may not have started with the first cigarette I smoked, or maybe the 1st time I came in contact with asbestos could have been the trigger, then again maybe it was that 1st bad cold or the 1st time I got bronchitis.  My doctor tells me I was predisposed to COPD, like others are predisposed to heart disease, cancer or kidney disease.  Even if I did everything right, lived in a bubble, exercised, ate correctly, and got plenty of rest I could/would have end up with the COPD. This post is about COPD because it is the disease of those I mentioned that I am the most familiar.

There are four stages of COPD; they are Mild, Moderate, Severe and Very Severe.   Very Severe COPD is now starting to be referred to as “End Stage” and I like term better than Very Severe.  This post is about how I have progressed thru the stages of COPD.  I will to talk about it in hindsight, trying to pick up the clues of the disease, recalling bouts of chronic bronchitis, how often I was sick, the duration of the bout, what did I did to prevent future bouts, I will also share what if any medications I can remember. Hopefully this will show folks how slowly COPD takes over your lungs.  Also I will describe circumstances that I feel are unique to me, which has expedited the disease thru my lungs. Which unfortunately for me has possible reduced my life span by as much as 10 to 15 years.

I suspect the reason that the COPD stages begin with MILD rather than some lesser descriptive word is that by the time you are diagnosed you are there, you’re not working your way towards COPD, you already have COPD. I began to suffer the leading edge signs of COPD about 30 years ago.  This was about the time that I started having issues with bronchitis.  During my mid 30’s I was having documented cases of bronchitis at least 2 times a year (where I actually when to a doctor and was prescribed medicine), in addition there were at least one or 2 more incidents a year that when undocumented (where I didn’t go to a doctor, or get medication, I just suffered thru it).  Back then I could get over a case of bronchitis in 4 or 5 days. The Zpak was the most common form of medication used back then. Maybe amoxicillin if memory serves.   

I was officially diagnosed with COPD ten or so years ago (around 2004). But please understand I had been suffering the symptoms and had been treated for chronic bronchitis for almost 20 years prior to the “official diagnoses.” The diagnoses came as a result of a breathing and sleep test, and at the time I was told I was in the Moderate (but tail end) stage of COPD.  All the benchmark signs were there long before I was diagnosed; getting winded with heavy exertion, colds that became the flu, which later became bronchitis. When I was diagnosed with COPD I had already stopped smoking for over 10 years, and while I got some of my wind back after I quit, it all never came back! But also, I was not in good shape, I was extremely overweight (and still am), my diet sucked, I did not have an exercise program, and my exercises really consisted of meeting the needs of family and doing family related chores (cutting grass, weed wacking, building flower boxes and the like). Being honest I just didn’t take care of myself.  Another indication that led to my diagnoses of COPD was a review of my medical history.  At this point I was having at least 2 serious bouts of bronchitis a year, I was given a Zpak, I was advised to nebulize Albuterol 2 or 3 times a day, as needed, I was prescribed a rescue inhaler, and I was also treated with Amoxicillin for 10 to 14 days.  I took all the pills as directed, but was extremely lax on using the nebulizer, and even more lax (if possible) with the rescue inhaler. Also the bouts of bronchitis were so bad that I was missing more and more time at work.

Two events happened over the next 4 years (2004-08) that rapidly moved me from Moderate to Severe and into Very Severe COPD.  In July of 2006 I had a Bi-lateral Pulmonary Embolism, amazingly I only missed a couple weeks of work, but it took months to regain my strength. Also I did notice a significant difference in my ability to breath.  Everything was more difficult, but it was still manageable and I was not on Oxygen 24/7.  The second event took place in March 2008, I had heart bypass surgery.  Two days after the surgery a hole developed in my left lung, right behind the heart. It was decided to see if the hole would heal itself (for 10 days), it didn’t, and about 14 days after heart surgery I was again on the operating table having the hole in my lung repaired. I am not going into all the details here, but I ended up spending over 100 days in the hospital, and came out of the hospital on oxygen 24/7/365 and in the END (Very Severe) stage of COPD.  Once I was well enough to take a breathing test it clearly showed how rapidly my disease had progressed, and that I was now in fact in the End Stage of COPD.  I do not for a moment believe this is the natural progression.  I believe that between the bi-lateral pulmonary embolism and the surgery on my left lung to repair the damaged lung greatly spend up my deterioration. The result was I sped thru the Moderate and Severe stages of COPD right to “End Stage.”  I truly believe that had I not suffered from the Pulmonary Embolism and the damage to my left lung that I would still be in, the (at worse) Severe stage of COPD.  It is my opinion that these 2 incidents move me closer by (at least) 10 or so years closer to the end of retirement.

Another factor which played heavily in the deterioration of my lungs is an immune system deficiency. My immune system was in such a state that the system’s ability to fight infectious diseases such as Pneumonia, MRSA and Pneumonitis, (treated with Zyvox, Colistimethate, Doxycycline, Cefepime, Meropenem, TOBI and Cipro, to name a few, those drugs with lines drawn thru them no longer have an impact on the Pneumonitis or MRSA which has colonized in my left lung) was compromised or entirely absent when discovered just 2 years ago. Doc Infectious (who was called in by Doc Lungs), ran a series of blood tests that shows my immune system barely functioned. When discovered it was determined that my system not been running at any level of efficiency for years. Allowing the COPD diseases to have a far greater impact on my lungs than someone whose immune system wasn’t compromised. Doc Infectious began treating this with a monthly (for the last 20 months) 5 hour IV treatment of Privigen.  My immune system now performs at the lowest level of normal, which I truly believe has played a significant role in my only having 2 hospital stays in the last 19 months.

All of this sounds very grim and to some it may sound crushing.  But I have lived with COPD for over 30 years, and I am not done yet.  Without complications such as; heart disease, the bi-lateral pulmonary embolism or the hole in my lung, I might not even be in the “End Stage” of COPD.  During my progression thru my disease I have learned that exercise is a tremendous help, eating correctly, managing your weight, communications, stopping smoking, doing your best to remove irritants from your environment, gathering support when and where you can, and most importantly maintaining a great attitude all will play a momentous part in your longevity.  Even if it doesn’t lengthen your stay, it will make your stay that much more pleasant for you and those you care for.

Folks this is my story, your story will be about you. This post talks about me, and it is but a snapshot, I realize I probably haven’t covered all I said I would, but like I said, it’s a snapshot.  How you deal with the disease is your business.  My blog shares how I have dealt with my COPD. Hopefully you don’t run into complications, maybe your COPD was caught at such a time and place where if you change some basic habits now, you will not only increase your stay, but your quality of life at the same time.  Right now there is no cure for COPD, but that would have been said for a lot of diseases over the years.  If you’re in the earliest stages, you have to imagine that the cure will be discovered during your life time. Smiling I have had COPD for over 30 years; I got COPD before it even had a name.  And even though I am in “End Stage” I haven’t given up, all I would ask is that you don’t give up either.

Folks as always if you have any specific questions you want to ask or if you have comments or concerns you want to share, please feel free.  Take care, Bill 

 

 

 
31 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Observations, Ramblings

 

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31 responses to “A Timeline for the Progression of my COPD….

  1. Chatter Master

    August 1, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Thank you for the history Bill. Someone I know was just diagnosed. So the more information the better.

     
    • FlaHam

      August 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Colleen, Of course Colleen if at anytime your friend would like some one on one time, I will be happy to sit with them and answer any question I can. I wish them all the well. Please take care, Bill

       
  2. Dawn/Tom Trattner

    August 1, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Thanks for sharing, Bill. I think I told you that my dad had COPD. This month is the 10th anniversary of his death after many years of suffering with this dreadful disease. We have lots of fond memories of times spent with dad, but I wish he had been a bit more open to share more of his thoughts. What a wonderful gift you have of storytelling and sharing with your friends and family. Dawn Dawn Trattner trat@aol.com

     
    • FlaHam

      August 1, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Dawn, Thank you Dawn, for you sweet and lovely words. It is the fond memories that will keep you going, the not so fond ones will find their way into a trash can at some point. When I started this blog It was going to be a open and honest account of my struggle with the disease. To date, I believe I have been true to that premise. But now as I reach the end of retirement I find it even more important to maintain honesty associated with what I have written, so thank you from the bottom of my heart I am glad you have decided to come along on the journey, Please take care, Bill

       
  3. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    August 1, 2014 at 9:38 am

    This really lays it all out there. Facts are important to help someone deal with what is and not what is wished for. From my own chronic situation, it’s dealing with the facts and adjusting my attitude and not wishing/hoping for something different then getting disappointed that’s helped me. This is a very important post that I will certainly share with anyone I encounter who is newly diagnosed with COPD. Thank you, Bill. Have a good weekend. ❤

     
    • FlaHam

      August 1, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Paulette, I tried to stress that this is my time line, and each persons is different. If one doesn’t have a lot of extra baggage on their disease, I would anticipate them having a longer lifeline. Having a disease is all about adjusting to and for it. From our talks over the last couple years you have done very well adjusting. You should be proud of yourself. I know I am proud of you. Take care, Bill

       
  4. huntmode

    August 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Bill, thank you for this. As always, you raise the bar. Thank you, my friend. xxoo Huntie

     
    • FlaHam

      August 2, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Hunt, I don’t know if I am raising the bar or not, but someone told me that it would be wise if I shared my timeline thru the disease to help those who are just now finding out they have it. In doing this it allowed me to go way back and see what I thought were the earliest signs. You have been one of my staunchest supporters since your 1st comment, I can’t thank you enough. If my reflection helps me, maybe it will help you. Take care, Bill xoxo

       
  5. kgbethlehem

    August 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    and still you rise..

     
    • FlaHam

      August 2, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thank you, each day is a new challenge and I truly hope I am up for it, and I try to overcome each of these challenges. Your words of encouragement are truly welcomed. Take care, Bill

       
  6. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    August 2, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Bill, You have once again risen above the disease itself and turned ‘it’ into a service to others. You’ve taken a scary disease and laid it out as it has occurred in your life. I believe any path is easier to walk if we have an idea of what might be around the next corner. I can relate to the absence of an immune system. Tom and I neither have fighting power of our own. I’m careful to inform others to please not visit if they have colds or anything that might transfer to either one of us but for some reason, I might as well be talking into the wind.

    I’ve wanted to reach you today about submitting some of your stories for an anthology. I’ve been unable to find contact information for you. Could you please send me your e-mail address. I know you have already written material that falls into the ‘Slice Of Life’ category. My e-mail is
    sheri@sheridegrom.com.

     
    • FlaHam

      August 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Sheri, I don’t know if what I have done could be considered rising above the disease or not. I recently had a case of the guilt’s, that being I felt that anyone starting to read my blog now who was just been diagnosed with COPD would crap their pants, and that the honesty of the blog would scare them. I mentioned this to some of my fellow bloggers and Doc Head and someone who heard me suggested I write about how the disease progressed thru my body. It was a good idea I took it and ran with it. I also felt it was very important to speak of the other medical incidents that have occurred, and how/what impact they had on the diseases progress. Laughing it is harder to explain why I wrote this post, than actually writing the post. I am not really sure I know what your wanting to do, but I am or can be available to talk about it. Take care, Bill

       
      • sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

        August 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        Bill, Anyway you look at it, you are providing vital information for countless individuals who will read your blog and find comfort. They will never, for whatever reason, step forward and say thank you so much for walking this walk with me and for helping me understand this complicated disease. I know from my own experience of both blogging and public speaking those who appreciate what we have to say eventually make their way back to us in their own time to offer thanks-giving for the feast at the table.

         
        • FlaHam

          August 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

          Sheri, It is words like yours that I write my blog. It all started as my desire to help those that followed. To share in the most honest of terms what I was going thru, and to share that you didn’t have to hide from the disease you could have the good fight. That having a terminal disease wasn’t a death sentence but a chance to live as best you can for as long as you have. Thank you for your continued encouragement, it’s the words like yours that adds to the courage I have, to write as I do. Take care and thank you, Bill

           
  7. Wanda

    August 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Good job with this post, Bill. I think you’ve done a great job of explaining how COPD started for you, what might have caused it, what choices, both good and bad, you made that also affected the progression of the disease. It does seem that everything went exactly the wrong way for you in terms of your susceptibility to bronchitis and related conditions, a weakened immune system, etc. You’ve been open and honest here regarding where you are in the progression and the hows and whys of your situation, but you also offer hope and counsel to others who are affected by the disease.

     
    • FlaHam

      August 2, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Wanda, smiling, as I wrote this and began the editing process (which I suck at), I kept going damn if this or that hadn’t happened I could still be in relatively good health. But this and that did happen, so I am playing the cards dealt me. If this post helps a single person understand that normally COPD is a very very long disease, and that they can make it even longer, then this is a great post. Wanda, I always appreciate your words, your wisdom, and I am very lucky that you are a close personal friend. You have been most unfortunate in that you have witnessed most of this. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. Thank you, Bill

       
  8. benzeknees

    August 13, 2014 at 2:59 am

    The first time I was told I had chronic bronchitis was when I was recovering from pneumonia with pleural effusion where I spent 5 days in the hospital. That was 10 years ago. I thought my breathlessness was a result of smoking & so was worried after I quit smoking & my breathing did not improve. So even though I had my official diagnosis in Dec./13, I believe I have probably had COPD for approx. 10 years & from what my pulmonologist says I’m on the border between moderate & severe. Your posts & DS have been a great help to me!

     
    • FlaHam

      August 14, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Benze, In all of my understanding in the progression of the disease, and all of the excuses we humans tend to make regarding our health, I am not the least bit surprised you were diagnosed with COPD 10 after you feel in retrospect you were ill. As I stated in the post I most likely developed it 20 years before diagnoses. Rarely will you encounter someone who is in the “mild” stage. Benze, I am very happy you have found some comfort in my blog, and with the folks at DS. They are good people with a collective heart of gold. Take care, Bill

       
  9. Sue Graham

    March 15, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Bill 🙂

    I was just diagnosed with stage 2 after living my entire life with Asthma. I have hypertension, GERD, an adrenal function abnormality – I am 47. My doctor did not explain it so I left the office thinking I had mere years to live. After reading your blog I am somewhat comforted. I hope you are doing well 🙂

     
  10. Claudia Kosa

    April 2, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    (MUST READ: HOW I GOT CURED FROM COPD)
    My name is Claudia Kosa I thought i should share this here as someone may need this information; I was diagnosed of COPD in February 2015, my doctor told me it has no permanent cure, i was given inhaler to help relax my airway and other medications to ease the situation, this continued till a friend of mine Anna Burke told me about Dr Ejiro from South Africa who cured her father of COPD and Glaucoma. I contacted this herbal doctor via his email and bought the herbal medicine from him, i received it within 6 days and applied it as prescribed and was totally cured within 19 days of usage. my life is back again! Contact this herbal doctor via his email ejiroherbalcure(at)gmail(dot)com

     
  11. Monica

    April 17, 2016 at 6:30 am

    (MUST READ: HOW I GOT CURED FROM COPD)
    My name is Monica I thought i should share this here as someone may need this information; I was diagnosed of COPD in February 2015, my doctor told me it has no permanent cure, i was given inhaler to help relax my airway and other medications to ease the situation, this continued till a friend of mine Victoria Jane told me about Dr Lusanda from South Africa who cured her father of COPD and Glaucoma. I contacted this herbal doctor via his email and bought the herbal medicine from him, i received it within 6 days and applied it as prescribed and was totally cured within 19 days of usage. my life is back again! Contact this herbal doctor via his email drlusandaherbalcure(at)gmail(dot)com

     
  12. Linda

    May 19, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Thank you Claudia Kosa, i ordered the herbs and received it few days ago

     
  13. Ashley Daggett

    June 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    My dad is in the end stage of copd and maybe his final days. Does copd take you from being able to talk move your body walk around to the very next day not able to do anything for instance not being able to stay awake to finish a sentence to being on his death bed

     
    • Carol Arthur

      August 31, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      I am from Georgia United States, I was diagnosed of Emphysema (COPD) in 2013 and I have tried all possible means to get cured, i even visited pulmonologist but all to no avail, until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal doctor from Africa who prepare herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including Emphysema, at first i doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try, when i contacted this herbal doctor via his email he sent me the Emphysema herbal medicine through courier service, when i received this herbal medicine, he gave me step by instructions on how to apply it, when i applied it as instructed i was totally cured of this deadly disease within 12-14 days of usage, if you are suffering of this diseases you can as well Contact this great herbal doctor via his email drlusandaherbal(AT)gmail(DOT)com

       
  14. markanthonymartinjr

    August 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    I am from USA, I was diagnosed of Emphysema (COPD) in 2015 and I have tried all possible means to get cured, i even visited pulmonologist but all to no avail, until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal doctor from south Africa who prepare herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including Emphysema, at first i doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try, when i contacted this herbal doctor via his email he sent me the Emphysema herbal medicine through courier service, when i received this herbal medicine, he gave me step by instructions on how to apply it, when i applied it as instructed i was totally cured of this deadly disease within 12-14 days of usage, if you are suffering of this diseases you can as well Contact this great herbal doctor via his email abumereherbalcentre@gmail.com.

     
  15. Carol Arthur

    August 31, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    I am from Georgia United States, I was diagnosed of Emphysema (COPD) in 2013 and I have tried all possible means to get cured, i even visited pulmonologist but all to no avail, until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal doctor from Africa who prepare herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including Emphysema, at first i doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try, when i contacted this herbal doctor via his email he sent me the Emphysema herbal medicine through courier service, when i received this herbal medicine, he gave me step by instructions on how to apply it, when i applied it as instructed i was totally cured of this deadly disease within 12-14 days of usage, if you are suffering of this diseases you can as well Contact this great herbal doctor via his email drlusandaherbal(AT)gmail(DOT)com

     
  16. Kamren Hamrick

    September 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

    I smoked for thirty years, then over a dozen years ago, I thought I had come down with a very bad case of pneumonia. After my wife nagged me for a week, I finally saw the doctor. I was diagnosed with severe COPD. They were amazed that I had waited so long, years in fact, before going to a doctor over it. They gave me three years tops before it killed me. That was thirteen years ago and I am still living. I don’t do much, because I no longer have the ability. I can no longer walk, am always hooked up to an oxygen air line, and my body is starting to shut down. There are times that I can’t remember my wife’s name, even though we have been married for nearly forty years. Truth be told, there are times that I truly wish I had died years ago when I could still walk, talk, play with my grandkids, but GOD decided that it might be better for me to live a bit longer. My wife asks me, when I am having a bad day, if I want to go to the hospital. I always decline, reminding her that I do not want to die in the hospital, but to die at home with the people that I love most. Hospitals can no longer do anything good for me. Even Duke Hospital admits that they do not know why I am still living. GOD purpose will eventually be known until i found testimonies of Great Dr. Lusanda in an online research and on Facebook, Like anybody would be, I was very skeptical about contacting him, but i later did email him and he started the remedies for my health. Thank God, i am cured from COPD by the herbal medication I received from him. I never thought that COPD can be cured, from the bottom of my heart I’m truly grateful,i pray you have long life so you can help many more people on earth with your herbal medical support. Contact Lusanda today, Email: Drlusandaherbal(at)gmail(dot)com or website on www(dot)drlusandaherbal(dot)weebly(dot)com

     
  17. Lucia Ningi Ndlovu

    December 9, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Parkinson disease has been ongoing in my family for long..I lost both parents to Parkinson and it is so much pain have not been able to get over. As we all know medically,there is no solution or cure for Parkinson disease and the cost for Medication is very expensive..Someone introduced me to a herbal Clinic(Native Medical Practitioner)in S.A.. i have spent thousands of dollars on medication..I said i will like to try them cos someone introduced me to them..they asked me sorts of questions and i answered back correctly..To cut the story short,they gave me some medicinal herbs and instructed me on how to apply theml..At first i was skeptical but i just gave it a try..I was on this herbal Medication for 4 weeks and i used the herbs according to the prescription..i decided to visit my doctor for another test..Honestly speaking, i never believe all he was saying until after the test when my doctor mention the statement that am Parkinson disease negative and my doctor was shocked as well….If you are out there suffering from this deadly disease you can also contact them via email: Healthherbalclinic(AT)gmail(DOT)com or website on www(dot)Healthherbalclinic(dot)weebly
    com

     
  18. Renda

    May 3, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    I was just diagnosed with COPD/ASTHMA/STRESS as of yesterday. I think I’m still in shock. I turned 40 today, but I’m afraid. I quit smoking April 1st of this year because I was put into ICU April 2nd with having more carbon monoxide in my system than oxygen. I was put on a respirator for 3 days. I’m trying to not let this get me down, but it is very hard when I have a 15 year old that loves for me to play basketball with him and working has literally become a chore because I get home a 5:30 in the afternoon and want to sleep. Not asking anyone to feel sorry for me, but I need to get this out.

     

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