I smoked from the age of 17 until the age of 61, and I didn’t go lightly on the number of cigarettes per day for many of those 44 years. They gave me two cancerous tumors within 6 months of one another in 2012. Both were removed and there’s been no recurrence. The other thing they gave me, though, is what’s called COPD, Cardio obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition in which your lungs are damaged over a long period of time. It’s a chronic disease which cannot be cured, but it can be treated, mostly with rescue inhalers and with broncho-dilators.
Mine was diagnosed in 2013, when I had about 38% of lung capacity remaining. They put me on the rescue inhalers and I did pretty well for the next five years. I was doing okay all the way up until last week Thursday or Friday when I contracted something called human metapneumo virus, a simple cold. Ordinarily it would go away in a couple of days, like all colds, but it caused a ” COPD Exacerbation” in me. That meant that by last Saturday morning May 5 I was having a lot of difficulty breathing, and I called my sister to take me down to the ER at the hospital at the bottom of the hill.
I got there and they discovered the oxygen saturation levels in my blood were down to about 83%, which ain’t good. They put me on a BiPap machine, which forces oxygen into the lungs, and then, because I’m covered by VA health benefits, they transferred me to Tripler AMC, the big pink Army hospital on the hill. They kept me in this super-posh room by myself for two days and nights and then moved me down a floor to a room with two or three other sick guys. I started recovering after the third day but they hung on to me for several more, sending me home on Friday the 11th.
I now have a dozen 4-hour bottles of oxygen, an oxygen concentrator, and a 24-hour tank that’s for backup in case the concentrator fails. So fair I have yet to finish the first 4-hour bottle they sent me home with and I’m moving around pretty well with few breathing issues.
It was scary stuff, but I seem to have recovered from this bout pretty well. Lucky me.
If you have family or friends who smoke, tell them to quit. This is not an experience anyone should want.